International Symposium on Place Names in Windhoek, University of Namibia, Sept. 18-20th 2017

From the 18th to the 20th of September 2017, at the University of Namibia, an International Symposium on Place Names in Windhoek, Namibia will be held.  The theme of the conference is Critical Toponymy: Place Names in Political and Commercial Landscapes.  Details about the conference, registration, and abstract submission process can be found here.

The conference is organized by the Joint IGU/ICA Commission on Toponymy, the Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment at the University of the Free State (UFS), and the Department of Language and Literature Studies at the University of Namibia (UNAM)

Keynote speakers:

  • Peter E. Raper (RSA): Member of the Steering Board, Joint IGU/ICA Commission on Toponymy; Research Fellow and Professor Extraordinaire in Linguistics, Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment, UFS
  • Mathhias Brenzinger (RSA): Mellon Research Chair (African Language Diversity in the Linguistic section of the School of African & Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Cape Town), Director of CALDi (Centre for African Language Diversity), Curator of TALA (The African Language Archive).

Mean Streets: The Stories Behind NYC Street Names

Photo: Joe Buglewicz

Wall Street, Broadway, The Bowery, Houston: the streets of New York City are famous around the globe. Did you ever wonder where their names came from? At NYCGo, Adam Kuban writes about some iconic NYC street names and their origins.

Hot tips: Houston Street is pronounced “how-ston”, not “hugh-ston”. And there really was a canal where Canal Street is today! Finally, no New Yorkers call it Avenue of the Americas; it’s Sixth Ave. Now you know.




Practical Corpus Linguistics for ELT, Lexicography, and Translation: New MA program at the University of Wolverhampton (UK)

The Research Institute of Information and Language Processing (RIILP) at the University of Wolverhampton (UK) has just announced a new MA degree programme in Practical Corpus Linguistics.  One of the key components of this interdisciplinary programme will be Lexicography. Information about the entry requirements, course fees, and course curriculum can be found here.

If you would like to learn how to explore language using innovative techniques and computer tools, then the course will offer you cutting-edge, research-led training of the highest quality, taught by leading researchers in the fields of linguistics and computer science.

You will have options enabling you to study:
– How people use words to make meanings;
– How to analyse real language usage;
– The role of phraseology, metaphor, and idioms;
– Creative and poetic uses of language;
– New approaches to language teaching;
– Translation tools such as translation memory systems;
– Creating dictionaries using new kinds of evidence;
– Using computer tools for teaching and translation.

Join the team of international researchers and start exploring language now!

Yale Will Rename Calhoun College to Grace Hopper College

Yale University has just announced that the college previously named after former John C. Calhoun, the 7th Vice President of the United States and diehard slavery advocate, will be renamed after Grace Murray Hopper.  An awardee of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Dr. Hopper earned a MA in mathematics and a PhD in mathematics and mathematical physics in the 1930’s from Yale University and invented the first compiler for computer languages.  Along with her long-list of achievements in computer science, “Amazing Grace” as she was often affectionately named, she served more than four decades in the United States Navy and reached the rank of Rear Admiral.  Yale’s recent decision marks the end to a long and contentious onomastic debate that had sharply divided the university’s community.  In a statement given to the New York Times, Rianna Johnson-Levy, 21, a senior from Ann Arbor, Mich., who was involved in the protests, stated: “This is definitely a victory, but we’re not done fighting […] It’s our job to keep pushing Yale in the right direction.”

Kuri, Ozlo, Cujo: Why do so many robot names sound alike?

For companies trying to convince consumers that artificially intelligent robots are helpful, not scary, giving them a cute name seems like one of the first steps. Linguist and verbal branding expert Christopher Johnson explains why “they sound like the kind of names you might give your dog.” But while we might want our bots to have the semblance of a personality (including a sense of humor), we don’t necessarily want them to seem too human. Read more at Fast Company.

GB1900: Crowdsourcing placenames in Great Britain

Are you fascinated by placenames?  Do you have a weakness for tea, clotted cream, strawberry preserves, and homemade scones?  Have you ever thought how cool it would be to be a part of an international project to preserve the cultural history of Great Britain? If you answered “Yes”, then you will be happy to hear that volunteers are being solicited to help collect and preserve all of the names of places (yes, ALL) in Britain from the Ordnance Survey’s six-inch to the mile maps of the early 20th century.  Interested in learning more? Just follow this link!

By contributing to this project you’ll be helping to compile the most detailed list of historic places in Britain. It is intended that the GB 1900 gazetteer will form the backbone of a national collection of the country’s historic place-names, comprising everything from the earliest medieval records to the field-names still known to modern farming families. The names of places are a vital key to unlocking the social and linguistic history of the land. They recall agricultural practices and local industries, changed landscapes and lost settlements. They preserve a rich heritage of Welsh- and Gaelic-language forms from across Wales and Scotland, chart the arrival of English, and illustrate interactions between the two.

Carto Cymru: The Wales Map Symposium 2017, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, May 12, 2017

On the 12th of May 2017, the Welsh Map Symposium 2017 or “Carto Cymru” will be take place at the National Library of Wales.  The theme of this year’s event is “Measuring Meadows: The development of estate mapping and it value in portraying the historical landscape”.  All interested map lovers, names enthusiasts, and Welsh fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets soon.  Although the Symposium is still a few months away, spaces are filling up FAST.  Information on tickets and the scheduled programme can be found here.

This event is hosted by the National Library of Wales in partnership with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates, Bangor University. Talks on the day will include a talk on the history of estate mapping by Peter Barber, Ex-Head of Maps, British Library and “Cantrefi a Cymydau: Rediscovering the Medieval Boundaries of Wales for the Digital Age” by John Dollery & Scott Lloyd, Royal Commission.

eLex 2017: Lexicography from Scratch, Leiden, Netherlands, Sept. 19-21 2017

The fifth biennial conference on electronic lexicography, eLex 2017, will take place in Holiday Inn Leiden, Netherlands, from 19-21 September 2017.

The conference aims to investigate state-of-the-art technologies and methods for automating the creation of dictionaries. Over the past two decades, advances in NLP techniques have enabled the automatic extraction of different kinds of lexicographic information from corpora and other (digital) resources. As a result, key lexicographic tasks, such as finding collocations, definitions, example sentences, translations, are more and more beginning to be transferred from humans to machines. Automating the creation of dictionaries is highly relevant, especially for under-resourced languages, where dictionaries need to be compiled from scratch and where the users cannot wait for years, often decades, for the dictionary to be “completed”. Key questions to be discussed are: What are the best practices for automatic data extraction, crowdsourcing and data visualisation? How far can we get with Lexicography from scratch and what is the role of the lexicographer in this process?

The meeting will be hosted by the Institute for Dutch Language (Instituut voor de Nederlandse Taal).

Starting with this year, the conference proceedings are going to be published by Lexical Computing CZ s.r.o., based on Botanická 68a, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic.

There can be only one Kylie™

Image: Shutterstock

If you want to protect a business name, you should trademark it. And that’s just what singer Kylie Minogue did in 2006, for the name “Kylie”. So when US reality TV star Kylie Jenner filed for the mark “Kylie” for her clothing and beauty empire, it was refused, because it would be too easy to confuse the two marks. Will Kylie Jenner’s appeal gain her any ground? Read the whole article here.