We look like our names: Research on face-name matching

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Does your name match your face?

Researchers at Hebrew University examined a social tag that is associated with us early in life— given names. The hypothesis is that name stereotypes can be manifested in facial appearance, producing a face-name matching effect, whereby both a social perceiver and a computer are able to accurately match a person’s name to his or her face

According to a study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a person’s facial features actually become those we associate with their particular name. Using volunteers, researchers showed each person photos of different people and asked to guess that person’s name (from a list of five).

It turned out people were able to guess the correct name far more often than they would have done by chance. The random chance for getting it right is 20 percent; study participants nailed it a full 35 percent of the time – but only if they shared a culture. Read on to find how more and the implications of this work.

Call for Papers: Association for Low German Linguistic Research, Kiel, Germany, May 21-24

From the 21st to the 24th of May 2018, an onomastic conference on the German language will be held in Kiel. The official call for papers can be found here. The conference is being sponsored by the Verein für niederdeutsche Sprachforschung. Scientific presentations on names and naming in Low German are currently being solicited. The focus will be on “Namenkunde”.  The deadline for submission is October 31, 2017. Researchers interested in holding 45-minute presentations are encouraged to send an abstract (max. 200 words) to the following address: elmentaler AT germsem.uni-kiel.de

Walmart.com in trouble for allowing the n-word in product description

Civil rights leaders have called for a general boycott of the discount retailer Walmart for the use of an offensive product name listed on its website. On Walmart.com. a third-party seller posted a wig cap that reportedly comes in the color “N*****r Brown”. The company quickly removed the product posting from its site, but not before it had been spotted by countless shoppers. Although Walmart has issued a formal apology for that the advertisement it claimed was placed by a third party seller, activists and shop-goers remain incensed that one of the most offensive names in the US language had not been spotted and eliminated before appearing on the site.

13th Conference on Jewish Names: “What’s in a Jewish Name?”, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, Aug 7 2017

On Monday, August 7 2017, the Seventeenth World Congress of Jewish Studies will host the Thirteenth International Conference on Jewish Names. The day-long conference will take place in the Rabin Building, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus Campus, Israel. The topic for the conference is “What’s in a Jewish Name?: Something for Everyone: Identity, Heritage, Stigma & Literature” and the complete program may be found here.

All participants must register for the 17th World Congress of Jewish Studies.

Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) Online

The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is often described as the American version of the world-famous classic, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Since 1965, the DARE has provided, linguists, lexicographers, and onomasticians detailed information about regional variations in the use of American English words, phrases, and pronunciations. Initially, the plethora of linguistic information offered by the DARE was only available in book form. However, today, word-lovers can find use the resource online. The digital edition features audio, interactive maps, and insights into the DARE Survey.

Nicknames for unborn babies can help parent/child bonding

You probably know that many parents give their children nicknames before they’re born – but did you know that they can actually help parents bond with their babies? These “noms de womb” are often sweet and amusing, but they can also be a way of using gender-neutral language for the child.

When the question of in-utero nicknames was put out on social media by ABC Radio Hobart in Tasmania, some common themes started to show. “Peanut”, “bean”, and “jellybean” were popular nicknames, as were “Cletus the foetus” and “George”. And sometimes a name given to the unborn baby might be intended as their forever name — until the baby arrives, as happened for one set of parents who nicknamed their baby “Xena” and were more than a little amused when a boy was born.

The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) Session, New York, NY, August 8-17 2017

From the 8th to the 17th of August 2017, the 11th United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names will be held in New York, New York.

The purpose of UNGEGN is to provide encouragement and guidance to countries without an official nationwide system of standardization of geographical names. It also serves an over-arching clearing house function by collecting information on the techniques, systems, and procedures used by the member states in the standardization, dissemination, and transliteration of geographic names.

For more about this professional group, the upcoming conference in New York or other related UNGEGN events, see the official website.

Crowdsourcing a name: Trainy McTrainface


Remember Boaty McBoatface?

A public vote to name four trains running between the Swedish cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg has resulted in one of the four being called Trainy McTrainface in an echo of the name chosen by the British public for the new polar research vessel.

Trainy McTrainface received 49% of the votes in a poll, jointly run by Swedish rail company MTR Express and Swedish newspaper Metro. That placed it well ahead the other three options: Hakan, Miriam and Poseidon.

Get more details about the other interesting train names in Sweden in this Guardian article.

Call for Papers: 45th Annual Children’s Literature Association Conference, 45th Annual Children’s Literature Association Conference, June 28-30 2018

The 45th Annual Children’s Literature Association Conference will be held from the 28th to the 30th of June 2018 at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. The exact theme of the conference is “Refreshing Waters: Eternal Springs, Winding Rivers, and Other Literary Oasis.” As a part of the conference, a special panel focused on Germany is planned for the conference. Interested researchers are asked to submit abstracts (max. 500 words) with professional bios (max. 250 words) dealing with any aspect of German children’s literature. Abstracts should be sent to the International Committee, Children’s Literature Association, at vanessa.joosen AT uantwerpen.be with the subject line “International Committee Paper Submission.” The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2017.