About Names: Long history has helped Abraham endure

@Associated Press

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 11th column, he looks at the history of the names Abraham.

Abraham was the Biblical patriarch of the Hebrews. He had one of history’s most famous name changes. In Genesis 17, God tells him: “No longer shall your name be Abram (“high father” or “exalted ancestor”) but your name shall be Abraham (“father of many”); for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.” The patriarch’s fame meant his name was used by Christians as well as Jews in medieval Europe. Families with surnames like Abraham and Abrams had medieval Christian ancestors called Abraham.

In 1880, when Social Security’s yearly baby name data started, Abraham ranked 163rd, Abe 234th and Abram 373rd. All fell off until 1902 when they rose again, partly because of eastern European Jewish immigration. Abraham also jumped from 162nd in 1910 to 124th in 1911, probably because of publicity about the building of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. After 1912, Abraham dropped, bottoming out at 499th in 1967.

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

Biases Against Immigrants with Non-anglicized Names

Immigrating to a new country brings many challenges. For some people, voluntarily adopting a name similar to where someone is living, rather than keeping an original name, is one part of trying to assimilate or fit in with the new community. According to a new study focused on the United States, where anglicized names are more typical, anglicizing ethnic names may reduce bias towards immigrants. The results appear in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Migrants Immigrants Merge Migration Integration

“We do not suggest immigrants to Anglicize their ethnic names in order to avoid discrimination,” says Xian Zhao (University of Toronto), lead author on the study. “This certainly puts the onus on immigrants to promote equity and our previous studies also suggest that Anglicizing names may have negative implications for one’s self-concept.”

Do you know all state demonyms in the USA?

A few state demonyms are probably well-known. By demonyms we mean the words you call people or things from a specific state (like “Pennsylvanian”, “Texan” or the entertaining “Michigander”). But not everybody knows that state demonyms follow a regional pattern.


The regional patterns are revealed in this map from Twitter’s OnlMaps where you may find the demonyms recommended by the U.S. Government Publishing Office. It is obvious that states in the same region tend to have the same suffix in their demonym: the old South and the West Coast generally end an “-ian,” New England ends in “-er,” the West in “-an.” A few stray states use “-ite.”

International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo MI, May 9-12 2019

Hosted by the Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University, the International Congress on Medieval Studies is an annual gathering of around 3,000 scholars interested in medieval studies. The congress features more than 550 sessions of papers, panel discussions, roundtables, workshops, demonstrations, performances, and poster sessions. There are also some 100 business meetings and receptions sponsored by learned societies, associations and institutions. The exhibits hall boasts nearly 70 exhibitors, including publishers, used book dealers and purveyors of medieval sundries. The congress lasts three and a half days, extending from Thursday morning, with sessions beginning at 10 a.m., until Sunday at noon.

The Congress takes place on the campus of Western Michigan University on May 9 to 12, 2019. Registration is online.

There are several panels and papers on onomastics, including:

  • “Nomen est omen”: A Roundtable on Names and Nicknames in the Middle Ages
  • Obscure Names: Reimagining Origins in the Lais of Marie de France
  • Ethnic Minorities in Medieval Palencia as Evidenced by Personal Names: The Jews of Dueñas and Aguilar
  • Arthurian Names
  • The Fairy Queens: Invocation of Fairy Tradition in the Names of Guinevere and Morgan le Fay
  • “What’s in a name?”: Experimental Archaeologist or Re-Enactor: Who are We?
  • Britons amongst Hebrews: Two Brythonic Names in Melech Artus

The full program can be found here.

Call for Papers: International Association for Robin Hood Studies

The Bulletin of the International Association for Robin Hood Studies is the peer-reviewed, open-access scholarly journal of The International Association for Robin Hood Studies. Scholars are invited to submit articles or essays detailing original research on any aspect of the Robin Hood tradition. The editors welcome essays in the following areas: formal literary explication, manuscript and early printed book investigations, historical inquiries, new media examinations, and theory or cultural studies approaches.

We recommend that you review the About the Journal page for the journal’s section policies, as well as the Author Guidelines. Authors need to register with the journal prior to submitting or, if already registered, can simply log in and begin the five-step process.

Call for papers: 21st Slovak International Onomastic Conference “Proper Names in the Interdisciplinary Context”

The scholars from the Eastern Europe organize the 21st Slovak Onomastic Conference around the topic “Proper Names in the Interdisciplinary Context”. It will be held in Nitra at the Constantine the Philosopher University, in September 10-12, 2019.








The conference topics are:

1. Theoretical issues of onomastics (interrelationship with various disciplines such as history, archeology, geography, law, economics, psychology, sociology, literary science, aesthetics, semiotics, translatology, etc.);

2. Analysis of different kinds of proper names;

3. Onomastic terminology (literary onomastics, socio-onomastics, psycho-onomastics, areal onomastics, onomastic semantics, etc.)

Please send your applications forms until April 30, 2019 by email to onomastika2019@gmail.com


Call for Papers: Language and Identity: Intersections between Linguistics, Ethnology and Translation, Aberdeen, Scotland, March 30 2019

The Identity and Language Conference Committee at the University of Aberdeen has put out a call for papers for their one-day event, Language and Identity: Intersections between Linguistics, Ethnology and Translation. It will be held at Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen, Saturday 30th March 2019.

In today’s modern society we develop identities related to our use of language, not only in relation to code switching within our native languages, but also across different languages. At the same time as individuals are gaining multiple identities through language acquisition, others are losing their identities to decreased use or extinction of their native tongues. Through globalisation the population of the world is interacting more across linguistic and cultural boundaries than ever before: through learning foreign languages and reading translated texts. How does this increased interaction with other languages affect our identities?

Please visit the official call for papers for more information.

Deadline for abstract submission: Monday 25th February, 5pm

Research network “New trends in Nordic Socio-onomastics”

The objective of establishing the network New Trends in Nordic Socio-onomastics is to stimulate research development within the field. The researchers from different Nordic countries will come together to inspire each other to make use of recent theoretical and methodological developments within adjacent fields in new, creative ways.
The organization of the network workshops encourage the participants to explore new theoretical perspectives relevant for socio-onomastic studies, as well as new methodological tools suitable for contemporary synchronic, historical and diachronic onomastic studies. Founders of the network are Birgit Eggert, University of Copenhagen, Emilia Aldrin, Halmstad University, and Terhi Ainiala, University of Helsinki.

Cofactor Ora Named-Entity Dictionary to improve toponyms’ pronunciation

There are countless toponymic homographs that have different pronunciations depending on meaning and that cannot be found in traditional dictionaries (e.g. at least one Houston in each US state, not even counting street names…). To overcome the limitations of traditional dictionaries, Cofactor Ora integrates with the Google Knowledge Graph and lets everyone edit and contribute pronunciations of names: both audio recordings and IPA pronunciation respellings.


Referencing an entity in the Google Knowledge Graph, each place name in Ora is linked to a location in Google Maps, and each persons’ name is linked to the Wikipedia articles. This allows Ora to list pronunciations for any number of people, places, and things that ever existed. Go ahead and contribute to Ora now!

Onomastica Uralica: Proceedings of the Onomastic Congress are available online

The International Council of Onomastic Studies reported that the papers presented at the 26th International Congress of Onomastic Sciences in Hungary in 2017 have been published as volumes Nr. 10 – 14 in Onomastica Uralica. The central topic of the congress, “Locality and globality in the world of names”, was about the linguistic position that proper names occupy in our present globalized world.
The volumes are available online in Open Access format on the website of the journal: http://mnytud.arts.unideb.hu/onomural/.
The volumes are also published in print form.