“Whisper” Why not “Roar?”

One of the top brands of sanitary napkins in India is “Whisper”, a name that comes from the shame and secrecy associated with buying such a product. Owned by Procter & Gamble, the sanitary napkin is called “Always” in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany and Africa. In India and other Asian countries, however, the brand is called “Whisper”.

Now, a petition on Change.org started by Shreya Gupta of Bengaluru is asking Whisper to change its name. In a video that goes with the petition, two young women talk about the power of a name and how ‘Whisper’ contributes to creating a negative idea about menstruation. The women say that despite all of Whisper’s efforts to break the taboo around menstruation through their progressive advertising, the brand name sends out a subliminal message – that you have to be secretive about your period and whisper about it.

Read this article at The News Minute to find out more about the petition and to watch the video!

The stories behind Aboriginal star names

Star map painting by Senior Wardaman Elder Bill Yidumduma Harney, featuring the Milky Way, the Moon, and ancestor spirits.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has recognized 86 new star names from Chinese, Coptic, Hindu, Mayan, Polynesian, South African and Aboriginal Australian cultures. This represents a significant step forward by the IAU in recognizing the importance of traditional language and Indigenous starlore. Among the 86 new star names are four stars with Australian Aboriginal names—Larawag, Wurren, Ginan and Unurgunite. Aboriginal Australian cultures stretch back at least 65,000 years, representing the most ancient star names on the list.

The names include three from the Wardaman people of the Northern Territory and one from the Boorong people of western Victoria. The Wardaman star names are Larawag, Wurren and Ginan in the Western constellations Scorpius, Phoenix and Crux (the Southern Cross). The Boorong star name is Unurgunite in Canis Majoris (the Great Dog).

Want to learn more? Click through to this informative article at The Conversation.


About Names: The name ‘Scott’ could be poised for a comeback

Sir Walter Scott

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his January 4th column, he looks at the history of the name Scott.

Scott is an English surname telling of one’s Scottish ancestry. The Scots were Gaelic speakers from Ireland who founded the kingdom of Dál Riata in western Scotland in the sixth century. In the ninth century, Dál Riata merged with the Pictish kingdom of eastern Scotland to form the modern nation. Linguists aren’t sure what “Scot” originally meant. The best guess is Pictish for “carved,” from the ancient Gaelic habit of tattooing with sharp knives.

Today, Scott is the 10th most common surname in Scotland and 42nd most common in England. In the 2010 United States census, there were 439,530 Scotts, making it the 39th most common family name. When the custom of turning surnames into boys’ first names took off in the late 18th century, men with Scott as a first name appeared. Many had mothers whose maiden name was Scott. Others were named after Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), famous author of novels such as “Rob Roy” and “Ivanhoe.”


Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Scotts in history!

UK Companies House rejects 50 potentially offensive names

Almost 50 company names were rejected in the UK in 2017 because they were deemed potentially offensive by Companies House, the United Kingdom’s registrar of companies and is an executive agency and trading fund of Her Majesty’s Government. The list of proposed company names rejected  included Blue Arsed Fly Designs Ltd, Fanny’s Kebabs Ltd, Titanic Holdings Limited, and Wags to Bitches Limited. Some of the names may have been added later if justification was accepted. A Companies House spokesperson said it was important the register was not abused by recording offensive names.

There are more than 100 sensitive words and expressions that require the prior approval of the secretary of state to use in a company or business name. These words include benevolent, Britain/British, commission, inspectorate, licensing, standards and Windsor.

Want to know more? Click through to this article at BBC News!

In Memoriam: Randolph Quirk, linguist and UCL scholar

The ANS is saddened to report the passing of one of the greatest researchers of English linguistics, Professor Randolph Quirk, at the age of 97 on 20 December 2017. The founder of the Survey of English Usage, Professor Quirk’s publications include such legendary works as the Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language which he co-authored with Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartik.  Since its initial publication in 1985, this work has been one of the international standards of linguistics references.  In honour of his stellar scholarship, Professor Quirk became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and was knighted in 1985.  A detailed biography of this luminary can be found at the University College London website.

Call for Papers: 28th international conference on British and American Studies (B.A.S.), Timisoara, Romania, May 17-19 2018

From the 17th to the 19th of May 2018, the city of Timisoara, Romania will be the host of an international conference on British and American Studies.  Among the topics of discussion at this scientific gathering are translation studies, British and Commonwealth Literature, Cultural Studies, and American Studies.  Researchers who are interested in presenting their scholarship are encouraged to submit a 60-word abstract by the 15th of February 2018.  More information on the submission process and the conference can be found via the conference website. The Call for Papers can be found here.

Cleve Evans on 2017’s Top Baby Names in the Providence Journal

Names parents choose for babies meld tradition, fashion, pop culture, ethnicity into a unique identity. The Health Department of the state of Rhode Island has provided the 10 most popular names for boys and for girls.

While simple — Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Charlotte, Isabella, Ava, Amelia, Mia, Aria and Abigail for girls; Liam, Lucas, Noah, Julian, Mason, Benjamin, Matthew, Michael, Logan and Joseph for boys — the names evidence the weighty decisions parents must make, balancing fashion with tradition, ethnic identity with popular culture, names that sound unique with ones that just sound weird.

“One of the commonest things parents are always telling me is they’re looking for a name that’s different, but not too different,” Cleveland Kent Evans, a psychology professor at Nebraska’s Bellevue University and a leading expert in how babies are named, told The Providence Journal in a previously published interview. “Culturally, one of the biggest factors now is not to have a common name. Somehow they think it’s child abuse if a kid gets into a kindergarten class and there’s another child with the same name.”

Want to know more? Read on!

How 16 Companies Picked Their Names

One of the biggest challenges of setting up a new  business is coming up with a name that will catch the public’s attention in a positive way.  In this article by Glen Stansberry at American Express OPEN Forum, readers can learn how 16 major companies came up with their names. Here’s a sample:

 2. Hotmail

Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith had the idea of checking their e-mail on a web interface, and tried to find a name that ended in “mail.” They finally settled on “hotmail” because it contained the letters html, referencing the HTML programming language used to help create the product.

 6. Cisco

Contrary to popular belief and theories, Cisco is simply short for San Francisco. Its logo resembles the suspension cables found on the Golden Gate bridge.

8. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s name comes from the the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavoring in the soft drink. Eventually Coca-Cola creator John S. Pemberton changed the K of kola to C to create a more fluid name.

“Rohingya” Chosen 2017 Name of the Year

Rohingya displaced Muslims, Tasnim News Agency, Author: Seyyed Mahmoud Hosseini

“Rohingya” was chosen the Name of the Year for 2017 by the American Name Society at its annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 5, 2018.

The Myanmar army has targeted the Rohingya, an Islamic group, and has perpetrated massacres that have the earmarks of genocide. Myanmar’s government has tried to prevent people, including Pope Francis, from using the name Rohingya. The UN’s Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has said “To strip their name from them is dehumanising to the point where you begin to believe that anything is possible.”

Maria was chosen ANS’s Personal Name of the Year. Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in September. The irony of a name associated by many in Puerto Rico with the Virgin Mary’s compassion being given to a storm whose aftermath has led to questioning the compassion of the federal government was cited by ANS members as a reason for the choice before the vote.

#MeToo was chosen as the Miscellaneous Name of the Year. This is the name of a movement encouraging those who have been sexually assaulted or harassed to share their experiences by using the #MeToo hashtag on various social media platforms.

Charlottesville was chosen as the Place Name of the Year.  This Virginia college town became a symbol of racism and resistance to it when an alt-right/Neo-Nazi march there on August 12 resulted in the death of counterprotestor Heather Heyer, and Donald Trump later referred to some of the white nationalist protestors as “good people.”

Nambia was chosen as Fictional Name of the Year. In September, President Trump lavished praise on the health care system of Nambia during a speech at the United Nations. Just one little problem: There is no such country. (Trump may have meant Namibia, an actual African country.) Trump mentioned “Nambia” twice in the speech.

The American Name Society is a scholarly organization founded in 1951 devoted to studying all aspects of names and naming. The Name of the Year vote has been held since 2004. “Aleppo“ was the 2016 Name of the Year. “Caitlyn Jenner” won for 2015, “Ferguson” for 2014, “Francis” for 2013, and “Sandy” for 2012.

For further information contact Dr. Cleveland Evans, chair of the Name of the Year committee, at cevans@bellevue.edu or 402-210-7458.