Why Samsung’s name for its personal assistant may twist quite a few tongues

Washington Post reporter Hayley Tsukayama interviews linguists and branding experts about the name of Samsung’s new personal assistant, Bixby. While the name is short and unique, it may pose difficulties for speakers of languages other than English – including Korean! (Samsung is a Korean company.) Bonus: quotes from Laurel Sutton, ANS Information Officer:

Bixby can also be a good brand for Samsung because it doesn’t have many preexisting associations with it, said Laurel Sutton, co-founder of the naming firm Catchword, linguist and information officer for the American Name Society.

ICOS2017: XXVI International Council of Onomastic Science, University of Debrecen, Hungary, August 27-Sept. 1 2017

The International Council of Onomastic Science will be holding its next congress at the University of Debrecen in Hungary from the 27th of August to the 1st of September 2017.  The theme of this year’s conference is “locality and globality of the world in names.”  Several different symposia will be featured at this year’s meeting, for example, “International onomastic cooperations and projects”; “Systematical relations between toponyms and anthroponyms”; and “Applied Onomastics in practice”. Early-bird registration for ICOS2017 has been officially opened; go here for information.

The International Council of Onomastic Sciences (ICOS) is the international organisation for all scholars who have a special interest in the study of names (place-names, personal names, and proper names of all other kinds). The aim of the Council is the advancement, representation and co-ordination of name research on an international level and in an interdisciplinary context.

U.S. surnames in the 2010 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the 2010 Census surnames product, a table of all last names occurring at least 100 times in the 2010 Census returns. For each of the 162,000 last names, the table includes its frequency, national rank, and breakdown by Hispanic origin and race category. Despite the nation’s growing racial and ethnic diversity, the five most frequent American surnames in 2010 remained the same as in 2000 and were mainly reported by whites and blacks.

Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown and Jones were the most common last names, according to a Census Bureau analysis of the 2010 Census.

This is the third in a series of data releases based on names recorded in the decennial census. Previous products tabulated name frequency from the 1990 and 2000 Censuses. The complete product, along with a methodology document, is available here.

Call for Papers: Toponyme – eine Standortbestimmung, Mainz, Germany, Sept. 18-19 2017

From the 18th to the 19th of September 2017, an international conference on toponymy entitled “Toponyme – eine Standortbestimmung” will be held in Mainz, Germany, at the Academy of Sciences and Literature.  Scientific abstracts are currently being accepted on any area of toponymic research.  Paper proposals are especially welcome in one of the following areas: unofficial place names; the grammar of place names; strategies for (re)naming place names; the compilation and use of large toponymic datasets; the visualization and digitalization of place name data; the relationship between place names and cartography.  The deadline for abstracts is the 30th of April 2017. More information on this event can be found here.

The focus of the conference is to open up new perspectives for toponomic research, which are to flank the necessary traditional names lexography. In particular, new subjects, questions, perspectives and methods are to be developed and interfaces to post-biodiversity are to be explored, which can lead to further research projects. The conference is therefore aimed not only at representatives of linguistic name research but also for other linguistic disciplines (eg dialectology), historical and historical auxiliary sciences, archival and bibliology, geography, archeology.

Name of the Mascot for Tokyo Olympics 2020 to be decided by professionals only

The mascot of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is to be unveiled in 2018. Proposals for the mascot’s design can be submitted by anyone of the general public. But the choice of its name will be left to professionals, in particular copywriters and jurists. The organizing committee explained that this decision is due to the complexity of an international trademark registration being too difficult for the layperson. In 2015 the Games’ logo faced allegations of plagiarism and was consequently replaced, possibly leading the committee to now err on the side of caution. “We discussed the possibility of asking the public about the name of the mascot. But as you know, it’s a much tougher task (than the design) when it involves trademark rights,” said the panel’s vice chairman, Yoshiko Ikoma.

Call for Papers: Terminology 24(2), 2018

From text mining to machine translation, the science of computational technology is essential for the acquisition and management of knowledge. Scientific papers that address the computational extraction and filtering of terminological information are currently being solicited for a special issue of Terminology, an international journal dedicated to theoretical and applied issues in specialized communication, “Computational Terminology and Filtering of Terminological Information Special Issue”. Details about the submission requirements and projected publication deadlines may be found at this website. Submission deadline: June 1st, 2017. Information about the multidisciplinary journal, Terminology, may be found at the John Benjamins online catalog.

Thanks to many years of research work, Computational Terminology has gained in strength and maturity. New requirements emerge from the current use of terminological approaches in many domains. Thus, scientific needs in fast growing domains (such as biomedicine, chemistry and ecology) and the overwhelming amount of textual data published daily demand that terminology is acquired and managed systematically and automatically; while in well established domains (such as law, economy, banking and music) the demand is on fine-grained analyses of documents for knowledge description and acquisition. Moreover, capturing new concepts leads to the acquisition and management of new knowledge. The aim of this special issue is to present and describe research work dedicated to extraction and filtering of terminological information with computational methods.

A trip to the domain name conference

Photo: Ingrid Burrington

Over at the Atlantic, Ingrid Burrington reports on a trip to NamesCon, an annual domain names conference in Las Vegas. Find out about domain name auctions, unicode, political domains, .horse domains, and dropcatchers. Here’s a sample:

The making of a “good domain name” is, I heard in conference sessions and was told repeatedly by NamesCon attendees, more alchemy than chemistry. Again, brevity is typically a good move, though memorable phrases are also effective. Some TLDs are hot right now (.io), and some single words are always a good investment (lotions.com, furs.com), but good TLDs and good words together don’t always work (as was explained to the owner of furs.io and lotions.io in one session).

What’s your favorite domain?

Call for Papers: CIHLIE: Coloquio Internacional sobre la Historia de los Lenguajes Iberorrománicos de Especialidad, Alcalá de Henares, Spain, October 19-20th 2017

An international conference on the history of Ibero-Romance languages will be held from the 19th to the 20th of October 2017 in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. “Coloquio Internacional sobre la Historia de los Lenguajes Iberorrománicos de Especialidad” or CIHLIE provides a scientific platform for researchers working within the areas of Discourse Analysis, Historical Linguistics, Text/Corpus Linguistics, and Lexicography. The languages of scientific interest at this conference are Aragonese; Catalan-Valencian-Balear; Galician; Leonese; Occitan; Portuguese; Spanish. The call for abstracts ends on the 30th of April 2017. More on this event, including submission requirements, can be found at the CIHILE website.

The specific objectives of the Colloquium will be:

  • Describe the dialogue as a way of transmitting knowledge between disciplines and subdisciplines, traditions and schools, scientists and lay people from a diachronic and synchronic perspective
  • To discover, describe and investigate the dialogical genres that functioned as reference texts and determine the importance of these genres for the development of specialty languages
  • Encourage diachronic research as an instrument for discovering and describing forms of oral imprinting related to the transmission of knowledge and the implantation of models and traditions of scientific exposition based on dialogue
  • To investigate the history of the reception of certain theoretical treatises, of the specialized languages, the discursive traditions and textual models linked to them both by the scientists of the same language and culture as by the scientific community of other languages ​​and cultures
  • Promote interest in specialized translation, as well as the problems that translators have encountered throughout the history of this activity and in the translation of texts of specialty of the past.
  • To inquire into the paths taken by texts, models and terms – for example through translation, adaptation, etc. – and how they were adapted or modified when discussing specialized languages ​​in other languages ​​or in other scientific fields.

Do You Come From Royal Blood? Your Last Name May Tell You

[Image: Library of Congress]

At the Ancestry.com blog, Sandie Angulo Chen writes about surnames and social mobility. According to a new study of unique last names from around the world, moving in or out of the upper class doesn’t take just a few generations — it takes centuries. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the London School of Economics conducted the study, which they published in the journal “Human Nature.” Read on to find out how the study of surnames led to these results.

Chinese baby names and changing trends

Since January 1, 2016, China has relaxed its one-child policy to allow all married couples to have two children. The result? Millions of children who need names. This article at the Shanghai Daily looks at the challenges new parents face, as they consider Chinese naming customs (names that have been used by elder people in the family cannot be used for babies), Chinese character choices (uncommon characters can be unscannable in banking or social security systems), and the influence of pop culture in China. Not surprisingly, there’s been a lot of work for naming experts!