About Names: With French roots, famous Joannes (and Joannas) spread far and wide

Joanna Lumley

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 27th column, he looks at the history of the names Joanne and Joanna.

Joanne is a medieval French feminine form of John, derived from Jehohanan, Hebrew for “God has been gracious.” Joanne was common enough in the Alpine province Dauphiné to become a French surname. Adolphe Joanne (1813-1881) wrote the “Guides Joanne,” popular tourist manuals from the 1840s to the 1920s. By 1500, Joanne was eclipsed by Jeanne in France. It’s still very rare there.

Joanna became a regular English name after the Reformation. In the gospel of Luke, the King James Bible’s Joanna is one of the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Joannes and Joannas in history!

Famous Restaurant Names

Why did they name it Spago? Was there really a laundry at the French Laundry? And why is it Pizza Hut and not Pizza Bistro? Find out the stories behind the names of famous restaurants in this interesting article at The Balance. Here’s a sample:


Chez Panisse Café – Berkeley, California

Chez Panisse is known as the birthplace of modern California cuisine and helped start a movement for restaurants to use fresh, local ingredients. Co-founder Alice Waters named the café after a character in a film trilogy by Marcel Pagnol (who was a French novelist, playwright and filmmaker). Chez Panisse is a restaurant legend and was number 20 on Restaurant Magazine’s Best Restaurants in the World.

A podcast about baby names!

Announcing the Baby Names Podcast, hosted by sisters Jennifer Moss (ANS member) and Mallory Moss Katz, creators of BabyNames.com. Join them as they dish about name trends, the latest celebrity baby names, and take your questions about names and naming.

In the first episode, Jennifer and Mallory talk about their own names, names from the Winter Olympics, the latest celebrity baby names and more. The podcast is available on iTunes and Google Play.

Call for Papers: Tagung Namengeographie, Mainz, Germany, Sept. 17-18 2018

On September 17 and 18, 2018, an international conference on the topic of name geography will take place in the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz. The reason for this is that the German Family Name Atlas (DFA) was finished in July 2017 with the publication of the sixth volume. The aim of the project was to record the most common surnames in Germany in their spatial distribution on the basis of grammatical and lexical questions. Thus, the atlas could not only show the distinctive regional distribution of many family names, but it also proves to be a catalyst and model for further family name geographical and lexicographic projects in Germany and abroad. Examples are the “Digital Surname Dictionary of Germany”, the “Surname Atlas of Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Hesse”, the “Luxembourg Family Name Atlas” or the “Luxembourgish family name dictionary”. In addition, it turns out that the geographical evaluation also leads to new insights in other branches of onomastics, as investigations, for example, on call, settlement, guest house or street names show.

Possible topics are:
· Evaluations with material from the DFA, interpretation of DFA maps, including the inclusion of adjacent disciplines.
· Presentation of work in progress, completed or planned name geographical projects (family names and other name types) at home and abroad.
· Geographical studies in areas that have not been researched so far, such as business names.
· Lectures from neighboring disciplines such as dialectology, geography, digital humanities, computational linguistics, computer science, which contribute to the further development of the name geography (compulsory is graphic material).
· Methodical possibilities, technical solutions, visualization of name data.

The deadline for abstract submission is March 31, 2018. Abstracts can be sent by e-mail to namengeographie@adwmainz.de. More information can be found here.

Join the new ANS Facebook group – Special Interest in Personal Names

The American Name Society has launched four new Special Interest Groups on Facebook. Today we’re spotlighting the Personal Names group, run by Maryann Parada.

The ANS Personal Names group aims to create a community where news, ongoing research, and other ideas regarding any facet of personal names may be shared. Discussion is also encouraged, including on the relationship between personal names and identity, policy, orthography, perceptions, and societal trends.

Dr. Maryann Parada is Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics at California State University Bakersfield, U.S.A. She has been researching onomastics since 2010. She is interested in names of all types, but especially in Hispanic names in minority contexts. She has researched topics such as the role of birth order in naming among Latino immigrant families, the interplay between name ethnicity and language proficiency perceptions, and the symbolic retention of archaic <x> in Mexican naming practices.

Please note that this is a closed group. The moderator will review your request to join, which includes a few simple questions. We look forward to seeing you there!

Riverdale’s fun fake brands

One of the most delightful running gags on the TV show Riverdale is the use of almost-but-not-quite-right brand names: Veronica charges up a storm on a shopping website called Glamazon.com, and buys Fred Andrews an expensive wallet at Barnaby’s. Riverdale‘s faux-name practice is an homage to the original Archie comics, which used similar wordplay for products and celebrities — as when Bingo Skar of The Bottles visited Riverdale (Issue 155, in 1965). This article at EW by Kristen Baldwin lists ten of the best fake brands to appear on Riverdale, such as:

“Five Seasons”
“It’s not the Waldorf nor the Plaza, but The Five Seasons, like all of Riverdale, has its charms.” — Veronica Lodge (Season 2, “When a Stranger Calls”)
Veronica is clearly underselling this establishment. A true luxury hotel knows that there’s no reason to settle for Four Seasons when you can have Five.

“American Excess”
“Reporting my American Excess card as stolen? Well played.” — Veronica Lodge to mom Hermione (Season 1, “In a Lonely Place”)
Commentary on our culture’s addiction to consumerism, and it rhymes with American Express? Well played indeed.

“Vanity Flair”
“Betty, come on. An impossible situation is being invited to both the Vanity Flair Oscar party and Elton John’s Oscar party on the same night.” — Veronica Lodge (Season 1, “The Outsiders”)
There’s no rhyme or reason to which real brand names Riverdale uses versus which ones they choose to parody. Why namedrop some real networks (HBO, Netflix), events (the Met Ball), and cultural luminaries (Toni Morrison) but spoof something like Vanity Fair? Then again, why am I looking for order in the chaos that is Riverdale’s narrative storytelling?


About Names: In honor of Mardi Gras, a primer on some more unusual names

Lisa Loring as Wednesday Addams

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 13th column, he looks at names associated with Mardi Gras and days of the week.

Tuesday, Feb. 13th, was the last day before Lent on the Christian calendar. Traditionally a day of revelry before Lent’s austerities begin, it has inspired Mardi Gras (French “Fat Tuesday”), the famed New Orleans parties and parades that began Jan. 6 and end Tuesday night. Mardi was regularly if rarely used as a girl’s name between 1936 and 2009. Model Mardee Hoff (1914-2004) started it off. In 1935, she won a contest for “most perfect figure in America.” Artist Norman Rockwell painted her for a 1936 “Saturday Evening Post” cover; she was later featured on the cover of “Life.”

English names for days of the week have also been used as first names or nicknames. Sunday, Monday, Friday and Saturday are English surnames, going back to medieval ancestors. Friday is the most common — men thought unlucky were nicknamed “Friday” no matter what day they were born. All the days of the week turn up as given names in censuses between 1850 and 1940. In the 19th century, most examples were African-American men. West Africa’s Akan culture traditionally named boys after days of the week. That custom occasionally survived among slaves and their descendants.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about “days of the week” names in history!

Join the new ANS Facebook group – Special Interest in Trade Names

The American Name Society has launched four new Special Interest Groups on Facebook. Today we’re spotlighting the Trade Names group, run by Mirko Casagranda.

A combination of verbal and visual elements, Trade Names are often a mirror of society in which language and culture intertwine. The aim of the ANS Trade Names group is to share and discuss information and news about trade names, brand names and trademarks. Members are encouraged to participate in the debate on what defines trade names, how they function and how they influence our everyday life.

Dr. Mirko Casagranda is Associate Professor of English at the University of Calabria, Italy. He has been researching onomastics since 2012. Along with trade names, he is interested also in place names in postcolonial contexts. He has published articles in English and Italian about names in Canada and other English-speaking countries. Between 2015 and 2017, he served as a member at large of the ANS Executive Council.

Please note that this is a closed group. The moderator will review your request to join, which includes a few simple questions. We look forward to seeing you there!

Book publication: Namen und Geschlechter/Names and Genders

Namen und Geschlechter: Studien zum onymischen Un/doing Gender [Names and Genders: Studies on the Onymic Doing and Undoing of Gender], ed. Damaris Nübling and Stefan Hirschauer, University of Mainz, Germany. This volume will be published by De Gruyter in March 2018.

Personal names are a critical factor in establishing the division into two genders. The essays in this volume examine the gender impact of personal names from linguistic-onomastic, sociological, and historical viewpoints. They investigate, among others, informal names in close relationships, the naming of the unborn, renaming transsexuals, and German, Dutch, and Swedish unisex names.

The language of the volume is German. It will be available in hardback and ebook format.