California’s infamous fires earn names

5614095951_55b4570e0a_mFor the past four years, residents of California have been battling one of the most severe droughts in the state’s history. As a result, California is currently witnessing one of the worst fire seasons ever.

From July into August, firefighters found themselves battling a fire system named the “Rocky Fire” which burned almost 70 thousand acres of land. In general, fires are named after the area where they are believed to have started.

Other infamous California fires that have earned official names include:

  • the 2012 Rush Fire
  • the Cedar Fire of 2003

One of the worst wildfires in California history, the Cedar Fire is also known by two names that express its devastating size: Fire Siege of 2003 and 2003 Firestorm.

Popular Japanese kanji name characters of 2014

15786692214_6bdebffdca_mIn Japan, last year was the “Year of the Horse”. As a result, many of the most popular boys’ names for 2014 included the kanji character for horse, for example,駿, 悠馬 .

Topping the list of most popular kanji characters used for boys’ names in 2014 was 蓮 or “ren” which means “sacred lotus”. Amongst the girls’ names, one of the most commonly appearing characters was 凛, which according to Japan Today means “dignified” and “gallant”.

See this article and this article for more information.

Australia’s Blacktown debates name change

According to some historians, the Sydney, Australia suburb of Blacktown earned its name from Black Town Road, the route leading to an institute where Aboriginal children were forcibly sent to so-called “Native Institute” for “education”. For this reason, many feel that the name is a painful reminder of Australian segregationist past and should therefore be changed.… Read More

Ashley Madison hackers publish list of names

This month users of the Dark Web were given the personal names (and intimate details) of millions of people who availed themselves of the net services provided by Ashley Madison (AM), a website devoted to help husbands and wives find that special someone else for an illicit affair. According to AM executives, the roster of customer names was stolen and released by an expert group of hackers who named themselves, the “Impact Team”.… Read More

Global WordNet Conference, Bucharest, Romania, January 27-30 2016

4188072629_5660a81bdb_mFrom the 27th to the 30th of January 2016, the 8th annual Global WordNet Conference (GWC) will be held in Bucharest, Romania. Organized by the Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence “Mihai Drăgănescu” of the Romanian Academy and the Global WordNet Association, this conference offers an international forum for discussing the latest research on wordnets.

Researchers and developers who are interested in presenting a paper are invited to visit the GWC website. The deadline for submission is September 6th, 2015.

Ghanian seeking asylum in Germany names her child ‘Angela Merkel’

7690625340_79d4554c81_mIn recent months, the European leaders have been struggling to cope with the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who continue to seek refuge within the European Union. According to a recent report released by EUROSTAT, the statistical office of the European Union, “the number of first time asylum applicants increased by 86% in the first quarter of 2015 compared with the same quarter of the previous year.”

According to many international human rights organizations, the EU’s policies for dealing with this humanitarian emergency have been dismal. Within Germany, the Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been particularly sharply criticized for failing to respond quickly and effectively enough to this crisis.

In the midst of all this criticism, the Chancellor has received an unusual vote of confidence from an unexpected source. As a sign of her gratitude, 26 year old Ophelya Adé, an asylum-seeker from Ghana, named her newborn baby daughter Angela Merkel Adé. When asked by the naming authorities in Hanover why she had chosen that name, Adé replied that she liked Merkel. Whether the new Fraulein Merkel will be allowed to remain in Germany along with the other 750 foreigners who have applied for asylum in Hannover remains to be seen.

Click these links for more information in English and in German.

Name that Thing by Merriam Webster

3429417174_13269ef0a1_mWant to test your knowledge of names?

Try Name that Thing by the world-famous English Dictionary, Merriam Webster.

Name-lovers can test the breadth and depth of their onomastic prowess in the timed10-question challenge.