Political splits and names in Zimbabwe

7421900004_60ace7d381_mThe Zimbabwe political landscape has always been characterized by political parties that frequently go on to spawn new parties.

In cases of party break-ups, the names of the political parties have also undergone commensurate changes. For example, borrowing from the original name of the political party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), several splinter groups affixed the abbreviation with the first letter of a place name. There was the MDC-T for a group centered in Tsvangirai and MDC-M for Mutambara.

A similar process now seems to have taken place with the name of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF). After the former vice president of the party and country, Dr. Joyce Mujuru, and her sympathizers were fired from ZANU in 2015, they formed a rival ZANU PF. However, according to the organizers, the final two letters do not stand for the phrase ‘Patriotic Front’ but ‘People First’.

This onomastic spin seems to be catching on. For example, Zeb Shumba, a former Tsvangirai advisor, is currently organizing a new break-away party from the Tsvangirai party, the MDC-T. Inspired by the new PF name, Shumba plans to name new party ZimFirst.

The Rise of the Nameless Narrator

6363562459_7399ee3c3e_mOne of the hardest tasks facing a fictional writer is finding appropriate names for characters. Before the advent of the personal computer and the internet, authors often resorted to running their fingers down tattered telephone books. Today, many modern authors on the lookout for the perfect characteronym hold online naming contests in which they invite the international net community to name their figures.

When these and other methods fail, some authors simply decide to leave their literary brainchildren completely nameless. Although this strategy may at first seem odd, there are in fact many excellent examples of works in which the main character remains stubbornly and utterly nameless. As classics like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Philip Roth’s “Everyman” demonstrate, in the hands of a skillful writer, a figure’s namelessness may either encourage readers to identify with the main character’s experiences or create a sense of emotional distance.

This versatility may help to explain why nameless narration appears to be trending in the 2015 book market. As Sam Sacks, of The New Yorker, quips, this year we have seen a veritable “epidemic of namelessness”.

Federal Jury Deliberates On Value of Michael Jordan’s Name

17123251389_bed3c3a1ba_mBasketball legend and billionaire, Michael Jordan, has just become quite a bit richer. A federal jury in Chicago decided that a supermarket chain in Chicago misappropriated the sports star’s name and number. Lawyers representing Jordan reportedly asked for $10 million from the retailer for the illegal usage of Jordan’s name. The attorneys for the retailer argued that, with all due respect, the sum requested to compensate for the one-time unauthorized use of the athlete’s name and number were beyond all common understanding of “fairness and common sense”.

According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, Federal Judge, Milton I. Shadur, the first judge to preside over the dispute before voluntarily removing himself from the case after Jordan’s team accused him of bias, reportedly agreed that the sum requested by Jordan’s legal team was “excessive”. However, after reviewing the facts of the case, the jurors decided that the now defunct retailer should pay the athlete $8.9 million for using his identity without his permission.

When asked for a reaction to the jury’s decision, according to the New York Daily News, the basketball Hall of Fame player answered: “This shows I will protect my name to the fullest […] It’s my name and I worked hard for it […] and I’m not just going to let someone take it.”

For more information see this article and this article.

Creatively named vegetable characters at “Foody” Expo Milano 2015

2886287153_ccf6c3119f_mUntil the 31st of October this year, the Expo Milano 2015 is being in Italy. A global showcase for more than 120 participating nations, the purpose of the expo is to spotlight technological answers to concrete problems facing the planet today.

This theme of this year’s expo is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. In honor of this  agricultural theme, the Expo organizers commissioned the creation of a special mascot to greet the more than 20 million people expected to attend this year’s event Named “Foody”. The animated mascot is described on the official Expo website as “honest, wise, respectful” and a fan of “healthy, tasty food.”

Teaming up with Foody are a smorgasbord of other edible vegetable characters, all adorned with fanciful food names. For example, Julienne Zucchini, Max Maize, and Rodolfo Fig. Click here to see the entire collection of veggie ambassadors.

British Columbia Ferries completes contest to name new vessels

7540875_dcff934acd_mIn recent years, many corporations have run public naming competitions to launch their new products. A media attention grabber, these naming events can be an excellent strategy for increasing public awareness in a corporation’s services… if it works out positively.

As the British Columbia Ferries discovered, this strategy is not without risk. In a recent campaign, the company asked the public to come up with names for three new vessels. While the response via social media was large, many of the suggestions received were not exactly what you would call sea-worthy. Some of the more salty suggestions included: Spirit of the WalletSucker, Queen of the Overpriced, and Incompetence Afloat; the Coastal Calamity.

Undaunted by the online heckling, the BC Ferries Company staunchly defended the competition. As the company’s Vice President of Customer Services explained in an official press release: This contest provided “an exciting opportunity for customers to name a ferry that will be in service for decades to come.” The competition, the VP explained, offered an historic opportunity for people to “leave a lasting legacy in coastal communities in British Columbia.” After reviewing the 7,100 name suggestions received, the BC Ferry team selected the following winning names: Salish Orca, Salish Eagle, and Salish Raven. In a statement released by the company, these three maritime monikers were chosen to “honour the Coast Salish people” and reflect the “culture of British Columbia”.

For a complete list of the names which already adorn the vessels of the BC Ferries fleet, click here.

For more information on the contest, click here or read the companies new releases here and here.

Public Seminar of Names, University of Helsinki, October 2, 2015

16251249941_45eeb887a7_mA public seminar on names is being held once again at the University of Helsinki on Friday, October 2, 2015. This traditional event is open to everyone who is interested in onomastics. The seminar program contains names-related presentations (in Finnish) from authors, graduate students, and researchers from the University of Helsinki, University of Tampere, and the Institute for the Languages of Finland.

Click here for more information.