The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) Working Groups, Brussels, Belgium, October 10-13 2018

UNGEGN Working Groups and Divisions invite you to join them in Brussels, Belgium from 10 to 13 October 2018 to share knowledge, experiences, and thoughts on the role and importance of expert knowledge in the standardization of geographical names. The audience targeted are experts in geographical names as well as all others interested in the symposium theme “Role and importance of expert knowledge in the standardization of geographical names”. The main venue for the meeting will be the Prins Albert Club, Karmelietenstraat 20 / Rue des Petits Carmes 20, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.

This symposium seeks to share knowledge, experiences and thoughts on the role and importance of expert knowledge in all steps towards a standardized name, including the establishment of a national framework for standardization, the selection of name varieties for a given geographical feature, the determination of a written form, and the implementation, promotion and evaluation of authorized name forms to their implementation and integration in geospatial information management systems.

To participate in this event and wish to register please contact Jasper Hogerwerf at Please note that registration closes on 5
th September 2018.

A downloadable version of the announcement may be found here.

For more about this professional group or other related UNGEGN events, see the official website.

Finding That Perfect Business Name Is No Easy Feat

American Name Society Information Officer Laurel Sutton was recently interviewed at WGLT for a story about business naming. You can click through to read the story, or listen online!

Here’s a sample:

Starting a business is hard. You need money, a product or service people actually need, a lawyer. You need to find a space, a staff, and start advertising. It’s a lot.

One of the hardest parts is picking a good name. And good doesn’t just mean catchy or clever. A good name means it’s both appropriate and available, said Laurel Sutton, senior strategist, linguist, and co-founder of Catchword, one of the most prominent naming agencies in the world.

“That’s the biggest hurdle that most people face,” Sutton told GLT. “There are so many names out there already. There are hundreds of thousands of trademarks in the U.S. alone. There are millions worldwide. To find the name for your thing that’s not already taken, that’s the hard part.”

Call for Papers: International Conference Language in the Media 8, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 23rd-26 2019

The International Conference Language in the Media 8 will be hosted by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO) from July 23rd to 26, 2019. The conference aims to discuss the theme mediatising resistance. The relation between language and the mediatisation of resistance is particularly relevant these days in view of the intensification of tensions, bigotry, and polarization we have been witnessing worldwide.

A well-established body of research indicates that this state of conflict is partly articulated in media communication. It also shows just how high the stakes rise when attrition gets commodified. Although media interaction involves complex and layered power relations, it only exists amidst constant battles for meaning and contextualization. One can thus say that the production, circulation and interpretation of media texts are always power-resistance actions. However, the dynamics of these complementary practices and their transformation possibilities still demand thorough exploration. Foucault has taught us that power games are fluid and relational and, as such, are prone to instability and insubordination. These concerns embody the conference’s focus on struggles for domination-reversal enhanced by media semiosis. These topics will be addressed in keynotes by Daniel Silva (UFSC, Brazil), Deborah Cameron (University of Oxford, UK), and H. Samy Alim (UCLA, USA).

While favoring the focus on power-resistance processes, LinM8 will keep the interest in other broad sociolinguistic topics and their relations to processes of mediatisation. Submissions whose focus lies in the following areas are welcome:

  • Language standardization and style
  • Language policy and practice
  • Language acquisition
  • Multilingualism and cross-/inter-cultural communication
  • Communication in professional contexts
  • Representations of speech, thought, and writing
  • Language and class, dis/ability, race/ethnicity, gender/sexuality and age
  • Political discourse, commerce and global capitalism
  • Language and education

The deadline for submission is 10 October 2018. Abstracts in English or Portuguese must be 300 words long and must be submitted via EasyCair in this link. Notification of acceptance will be given by December 10th, 2018.

More information can be found on the conference website. A downloadable version of the Call for Papers can be found here.

More people in the Netherlands want to change their first name

The number of people in the Netherlands who apply to have their first names changed has steadily increased over the last few years. These applications do not come from people with awkward or strange names, but from people who have a nickname and want to make this their official name. Noah and Emma topped the list of most popular baby names in 2018. Goodluck, Dikshit, Lovelace, Genius, Narbys-Lenay and Rooney have been some of the more unusual baby names over the last few years.

Why is the name Brenton so popular in Adelaide?

Name tags collected over the years by Channel 9 Adelaide newsreader Brenton Ragless. (ABC News: Eugene Boisvert)

There are an inordinate number of men called Brenton in Adelaide, Australia. Brenton was in the top 100 baby names in South Australia in every year but one between 1944 and 1988. Since 1944, 3,325 South Australian babies have been named Brenton. The name is very common elsewhere in Australia. In the U.S., the name peaked in popularity in 1984. Why was Brenton so popular in the 1980s? This article at ABC News explains some of the reasons why:

No doubt the popularity of the name Brenton interstate and in the U.S. is down to the paddleboat TV drama All the Rivers Run, which starred John Waters as captain Brenton Edwards and Sigrid Thornton as Philadelphia Gordon. Brenton “is very clearly a Cornish name”, and a large number of Cornish people emigrated to South Australia in the 1840s because of a famine in Cornwall and a copper mining boom in towns such as Burra, Kapunda, and Moonta. Brenton is often a middle name also, after a boy’s mother’s maiden name. In South Australia, there were — and still are — a lot more people with the last name Brenton than interstate, at least per capita.

About Names: Rachel is a name with a crazy rich history

Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August  14th column, he looks at the history of the name Rachel.

Rachel is Hebrew for “ewe.” In the Bible’s Genesis, Jacob falls in love with Rachel, but is tricked by her father into marrying older sister Leah. After seven more years, he gets to marry Rachel, too. She later gives birth to Joseph and Benjamin, Jacob’s favorite sons.

In medieval Europe, Rachel was only used by Jewish families. After the Reformation, it was one of the first Old Testament names adopted by Protestants. In the 1540s, the first decade English churches recorded all baptisms, Rachel ranked 39th. Susanna (at 30th) was the only Old Testament name above it.

In the US, newborn Rachels tripled between 1965 and 1970, when it ranked 58th. Rachel made the top 20 in 1983. Rachel’s final boost was from “Friends.” Debuting in September 1994, it made Jennifer Aniston a star as ditzy fashionista Rachel Green. In 1996, Rachel peaked at No. 9 for babies.

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

Letter Strings in Domain Names: Really Random?

What is the intrinsic (as opposed to trademark) value of short string domain names? It depends, of course. Rights holders have been willing to challenge domain name registrants even if they have no actionable claim for cybersquatting.

While consumers instantly recognize the letters “I,” “B,” and “M” are not arbitrary, they will not be faulted for failing to associate “D,” “V,” and “T” with Dynamic Visual Technologies. This issue of acronyms and arbitrary letters has a long history under the UDRP. A non-exhaustive list of short strings (some of which are infringing, others not) includes “adm,” “agcs,” “aro,” “ash,” “bper,” “clh,” “daf,” “dll,” “dkb,” “fxcm,” “jdm,” “ifo,” “irjll,” “iyzi,” “paa,” “snn,” “sog,” “ssx,” “usu,” “xrprf,” and more.

The ultimate question is whether any three, four, or five letter string has become so exclusively associated with the complaining rights holders that knowledge can be inferred. What do recent UDRP cases show?

To find out more about letter strings in domains, click through to this in-depth analysis by Gerald M. Levine at CircleID.