Video: cross-correlations of American baby names

Check out these videos that analyze baby names to demonstrate the changing cultural areas within the United States over time.

These videos are provided by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The following description comes from their website:

“For each year, we assigned colors to the states according to the method explained in SI Text, Principal Component Analysis and Hierarchical Clustering.

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Onomastics and Terminology 4: Personal Names and Public Administration, Budapest, July 17 2015

8130435985_d99d647d2c_mOn July 17th, 2015, the fourth annual interdisciplinary workshop entitled “Onomastics and Terminology 4: Personal Names and Public Administration” will be held in Budapest, Hungary. Dedicated to Hungarian-related legal issues of personal names, the workshop is being co-sponsored by the Terminology Council of the Hungarian Language, and the Society of Hungarian Linguistics, among others.

Topics include the basics of the Law on Personal Names, regulations governing Christian name choice and family name changes, the use of personal names in minority communities. Talks will be given by academic scholars and executives of public administration.

The language of the workshop is HungarianClick here for the conference program in Hungarian.


U.S. Olympic Committee willing to revise record to show Caitlyn Jenner as winner of 1976 Olympic decathlon

8206733386_8ce998bfaf_mIn the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, US athlete Bruce Jenner captured international headlines after winning the gold medal for the decathlon. Now, almost 40 years later, the Olympian has made world-wide news again by telling the story of a personal transgender transformation.

In honor of this journey, Jenner has adopted the new female first name, Caitlyn. According to Patrick Sandusky, spokesperson for the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), the organization would consider substituting the name Bruce with Caitlyn on all official records, if a formal request by the athlete is made.

See this article for additional information.


Isis is removed from the list of hurricane names

4989555315_b0512756e4_mThe UN’s World Meteorological Association (WMO) has announced that the name Isis has been officially removed from its list of hurricane names in 2016. This decision marks the first time that a name has been banned for its association with a terrorist organization.

According to the WMO, in the minds of most people today, the name Isis is no longer primarily associated with the magical goddess of ancient Egypt; instead it is now associated with the group accused of committing atrocities in Iraq and Syria. In this context, the name “ISIS” is an English acronym for the full phrase “Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham”.

Clare Nullis, UN spokeswoman from Geneva, Switzerland explained that the WHO Hurricane Committee will be replacing the stigmatized moniker with the name “Ivette”.

For additional information, see this article and this article.

New Zealand Geographic Board’s World War I Place Naming Project

15421234291_ff6532aff5_mThe New Zealand Geographic Board has just announced a special World War I Place Naming Project.

The goal of the project is to highlight national toponyms connected to the First World War and to publicize the histories of the people and events which served as their namesakes. To mark the centenary of the war, the project will feature the 30 prominent WWI toponyms, and will officially inaugurate 16 others.

The general public is invited to participate in this special naming project by nominating places and spaces in New Zealand for onomastic recognition. Nominations can be sent to tww1placenames[@]

Controversy over the Name of the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Edmund Pettus Bridge

Edmund Pettus Bridge

This year marks the 50th anniversary of a series of Civil Right Demonstrations for Voting Rights. On the 7th of March, 1965, unarmed demonstrators and activists were brutally attacked by Alabama state and local law enforcement officials armed with tear-gas and billy clubs. The scene of what is known today as “Bloody Sunday” was the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

On the 3rd of June, 2015, the Alabama Senate voted to change the name of this historic landmark to Journey to Freedom Bridge.

Supporters of the onomastic legislation argued that the name change would:

  • honor the memory of the Civil Rights protest marches which culminated in the legendary March on Washington and the momentous “I Have  a Dream Speech” by Martin Luther King.
  • rid the landmark of the original name-sake: a U.S. Senator, Confederate General, and Grand Dragon of the KKK.

This second reason caused controversy; both Pettus-critics and Pettus-supporters argued that the name is integral to remembering the remarkable history of Southern racism and activism.

While the Alabama House of Representatives decides on the onomastic resolution, the city of Selma came together at the beginning of this month to celebrate the diamond anniversary of this (in)famous U.S. American landmark.

For additional information, see this article and this article.

Obituary: Marie Dorsey, toponymist

Marie Dorsey

Marie Dorsey

Former Geographical Names Officer for Alberta, Canada, Marie Dorsey was born on December 28, 1915. An internationally recognized toponymist, Dorsey specialized in the place names of Alberta, Canada. As researcher at the City of Edmonton Archives, Dorsey compiled the first comprehensive inventory of over 100 Edmonton River Valley historic sites. She was also actively involved in the naming of many historic Canadian landmarks, including Raven River, Castle Mountain, Mt. Mitchener, and Mt. Lougheed. In addition to her many activities, Dorsey also served on the Historic Sites Board and the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names. In recognition of her scholarly contributions to Alberta’s historical toponymy, she was awarded the Edmonton Historical Award, the Namedropper Award of the Friends of Geographic Names of Alberta, and the Historical Society of Alberta Annual Award. Marie Dorsey died on May 23, 2015, just months before reaching her 100th birthday. Her ashes will be laid to rest on June 20, 2015 in her beloved Canada. Place name scholars who wish to continue her legacy of Canadian toponymic research can explore her archives in the Provincial Archives of Alberta and Edmonton.

Call for Papers: Journal of Literary Onomastics Special Issue

Call for Submissions: Journal of Literary Onomastics 5 (2016)
(a special issue on place and place-names in the early Insular world)

The deeply rooted importance of landscape, place, and place-names is a shared characteristic throughout the Insular cultures of the early Middle Ages, ranging from the material to the literary. From examinations of the early Irish dindshenchas tradition to recent archaeological investigations into the role of landscape in socio-political structures, the study of place has begun to receive more critical attention.

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Dennis Hastert’s Name Removed by Alma Mater

15458549691_0f30779fcd_mWheaton College, the alma mater of the former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, J. Dennis Hastert, recently announced that it will be removing the politician’s name from its public policy center. The announcement came in reaction to Hastert’s federal indictment in connection to his having paid over 3 million dollars to conceal his sexual misconduct during the time that he served as a highschool teacher and wrestling coach. Click here for more information, as reported by The New York Times.

Wheaton College is certainly not the first to undergo onomastic purging after news of a namesake’s criminal misconduct surfaced. Just last year, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the district board voted to remove the name of State Senator Manny M. Aragon from the library at Lowell Elementary School after the politician was sent to federal prison for conspiracy to defraud the over 4 million dollars from the state of New Mexico.