Conference: Words, Life, and Linguistics: Tracing Language Change with Today’s Technology, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 10-13 2018

From the 10th to the 13th of May 2018, language researchers are invited to an innovative forum called “Words, Life, and Linguistics: Tracing Language Change with Today’s Technology”. The event will be will be held in Kalamazoo, Michigan as a part of the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies and is hosted by the Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University. The purpose of the session is to address the use of digital technology to trace lexical, phonological, morphological, semantics, pragmatics, and syntactic developments to date manuscripts. More information about the session as well as the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies can be found here.

New Zealand wasp named after Lucius Malfoy

A native wasp in New Zealand has been named “Lusius malfoyi” to highlight that the insects – like the character in the Harry Potter series – are not all harmful and can be “redeemed”.

Tom Saunders, a researcher at the University of Auckland, said he wanted to show that the wasp, which he named after the Lucius Malfoy character in the JK Rowling books, is not as evil as its reputation suggests. Despite the insect’s fearsome reputation, New Zealand’s 3,000 species of native parasitoid wasps do not sting and do not live in colonies.

“I used the name Lusius malfoyi because Malfoy is a character in the books with a bad reputation who is ultimately redeemed and I’m trying to redeem the reputation of our native wasps,” said Mr Saunders.

“Negro Bill Canyon” in Utah to be renamed

After years of debate, a U.S. government board has voted to rename Utah’s Negro Bill Canyon, overruling a recommendation by Utah officials to keep the name. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names decided to rename it Grandstaff Canyon to get rid of an offensive name.

The new name honors black rancher and prospector William Grandstaff, whose cattle grazed there in the 1870s. “His name was Grandstaff; it was not Negro Bill,” said Wendi-Starr Brown, a member of the federal board who is Native American. “I’m pretty sure that’s not how he wanted to be addressed in life.” Brown is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe who represents the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the federal board.

A year ago, the federal Bureau of Land Management changed signs to say “Grandstaff Trailhead” instead of “Negro Bill” trailhead. “I think we have to look forward,” said federal board member Elizabeth Kanalley, manager of National Geospatial Services at the Forest Service.

Lecture: 50 years of the English Place-Name Society, University of Nottingham, UK, Dec. 1 2017

The English Place-Name Society has announced that this year’s Cameron Lecture will take place from 18.00–20.00 on 1 December 2017 in the Clive Granger building at the University of Nottingham.

This very special lecture celebrates 50 years of the English Place-Name Society in Nottingham, and will feature an introduction to the late Prof. Kenneth Cameron and his work by Prof. John Insley from the University of Heidelberg, followed by a lecture entitled “Highways and byways to the English Place-Name Society through more than fifty years”, delivered by Prof. Gillian Fellows-Jensen from the Department of Nordic Research at the University of Copenhagen. There will also be a display of posters relating to ongoing research by the English Place-Name Society and at the Institute for Name-Studies, the Society’s home in Nottingham.

To attend, fill out the registration form on the website.

Australian huskies immortalized in Antarctic place names

Husky dogs hitched up on Mawson’s expedition 1911-14. (Frank Hurley)

The Antarctic Place Names Committee is naming 26 islands, rocks, and reefs after the beloved dogs, that were a crucial part of Australia’s heroic era of ice exploration a century ago, and had a role into the 1990s. The dogs were all on Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911-14, but the naming is a tribute to all the huskies that underpinned Australian exploration in the icy continent.

Rod Ledingham detailed “the fine art of dog driving” in a manual and in lectures, to countless Australian Antarctic expeditioners and scientists from the 1970s, after training and running teams for the UK. Mr. Ledingham said dogs had been critical to exploring the Antarctica, up until they were removed in 1994.

“Most of the leaders were female,” he said. “There was even a team of all ladies, it was called ‘The Ladies’, 11 females that were a very good team.”

Read this article at ABCNews to find out more!

Yale college naming sparks debate

Pauli Murray

The debate over the naming of two new colleges at Yale University began in earnest in fall 2015. With racially charged protests sweeping college campuses across the country, the as-yet-unnamed construction sites by Science Hill emerged as a litmus test for Yale’s commitment to diversity: Would the University seize the opportunity to honor a woman or person of color, students asked, or choose another dead white man as a college namesake?

In the end, Yale did both. The college closest to Science Hill was named after Anna Pauline Murray LAW ’65, a queer black activist who co-founded the National Organization for Women. But to the dismay of student protesters, the second college was named in honor of the founding father Benjamin Franklin — a writer and inventor who also owned slaves.

Read this article at the Yale Daily News to find out more about the controversy over the names.

About Names: Tanya, Tonya are survivors

Tanya Tucker

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his October 10th column, he looks at the history of the names Tanya and Tonya.

Tanya is a pet form of Tatyana, the Russian form of Tatiana. Tatiana comes from the Roman family name Tatius. In Roman legend, Titus Tatius was king of the Sabines. He attacked Rome after its founder, Romulus, abducted Sabine women. The war was a draw, and Tatius and Romulus ruled Rome jointly.

Russians rarely use Tanya as a full name, but it gradually spread west through literature. In 1882, French author Henry Gréville (Alice Durand), who set many novels in Russia, published “Tania’s Peril.” In 1920, Tchaikovsky’s opera “Eugene Onegin,” with its aria “Ah, Tanya, Tanya,” had its U.S. premiere at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Tanya doesn’t appear in U.S. Census records until 1880. In 1940 there were 644 women named Tanya or Tania in the census, 21 percent of whom were born in Russia. Russian Tanya is pronounced “TAHN-yuh.” Many Americans look at its spelling and want to say the first part like the word “tan.”

That’s how Tanya Tucker herself says it. Tucker’s mother found the name in a Texas newspaper birth announcement for a local banker’s daughter. The Tuckers assumed the “tan” pronunciation.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Tanyas and Tonyas in history!

Coming to Georgia: The city of Amazon?

Amazon wants to establish a new corporate hub, currently called HQ2, and some cities are pulling out all the stops to entice the Seattle-based giant to their state. The Stonecrest, Georgia City Council has voted to de-annex 345 acres of land if Amazon picks them – and on top of that, they’ll name the new city Amazon.

“There are several major U.S. cities that want Amazon, but none has the branding opportunity we are now offering this visionary company,” said Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary. “How could you not want your 21st century headquarters to be located in a city named Amazon?”

Is this just the 21st century version of a company town? Read this article at to find out more.