Call for proposals: Changing Geographical Names as a Challenge for Research and Gazetteer Management, September 9-11 2019, Marburg, Germany

In 2019, researchers from the Herder Institute, the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig and the Justus Liebig University Giessen will start work on a project exploring the content and metadata structure of existing gazetteers. The project team will bring together historians, geographers and computer scientists. At the first workshop of their project, they will address the questions like : What do the various disciplines expect of gazetteers? How will research institutes further develop existing gazetteers? etc.

The workshop will take place on 9-11 September 2019 in Marburg, Germany. Please submit a short proposal highlighting the main aspects of your contribution. Please send your proposal, no later than 13th May 2019, to

Toponymy is key to unlocking history of Chinese civilization

From the earliest times in China’s history, there have been studies focusing on ancient place names. Since the formation of modern toponymy, more and more scientific methods have been applied. Since the launch of the China Geographical Names Cultural Heritage Protection Project in 2004, the protection and research of toponymy has attracted wide attention of academic circles.

There are more than 100,000 ancient place names covering China’s existing political districts, settlements, mountains, rivers and roads. Tan Ruwei, professor from the Cultural Geography Research Center at Tianjin Normal University, said that toponymy contains not only geographical, but also social and cultural phenomena.

Read about the secret of Chinese toponyms here.

Program of the 28th SNSBI Spring Conference 2019

The 28th annual conference of the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland will take place at the University of Nottingham from 26 to 29 April 2019. The University of Nottingham is home to the Institute for Name-Studies and has a long-standing connection with the field, housing the library and offices of the English Place-Name Society for over fifty years. The conference will bring together papers on a wide range of topics from Britain, Ireland and further afield, including the Cameron Lecture, to be given by Professor Lesley Abrams on the Saturday evening.

The program and abstracts can be found here.

ONOMA Journal got a new website

International Council of Onomastic Sciences is excited to announce the launch of our newly-designed and upgraded website for the ICOS Journal ONOMA:

The Vol. 50 has just been finalized. You may find this issue and upload from the Archive: The issues 51 and 52 should be finalized this spring, as well!

Founded in 1950, Onoma (ISSN: 0078-463X; e-ISSN: 1783-1644) is the oldest journal in the field of onomastics. Since the Vol. 32, Onoma has been inviting topical research reports as well as articles and reviews of general, theoretical and historical interest concerning all areas of scholarly name research.  It accepts studies written in English, French, and German, which are double-blind peer-reviewed, following the highest standards of current international practice.

Kyiv City Council renames street to honor John McCain

Kyiv City Council on April 4 voted to rename Ivan Kudrya Street in central Kyiv John McCain Street. The initiative was supported by 71 of 120 deputies of the City Council. Kiev authorities also received consent from the family of the American politician.

The name of Senator McCain will now bear the street Hero of the Soviet Union, Ivan Kudrya. During World War II, he was a scout and led an underground reconnaissance and sabotage group in Kiev. The authorities in Kiev chose this street because McCain fought for democratic values ​​and “defended the interests of Ukraine,” the website says. Residents of the city also offered to name the street in honor of the senator – they, together with public organizations, registered the appropriate petition.

Study says cats react to their names

A new study says that cats can learn and react to the sound of their own name. It also claims to be the first experimental evidence that cats can discern human speech.

The results published in journal Scientific Reports do not suggest cats can attach meaning to words or understand their name refers to their identity, researcher Atsuko Saito of Sophia University in Tokyo explained. Rather, Japanese scientists documented that cats reacted differently to their own name as compared to other words — they perked up. From the results of all experiments, it thus appears that at least cats living in ordinary households can distinguish their own names from general words and names of other cats,” the study reads.

April Lecture by Erik Schlimmer: Adirondack Place Names, Lake George, NY, April 19 2019

April Lecture Series: Adirondack Place Names: Why is That Thing Over There Called That?

Hosted By: Fort William Henry Hotel
When: Friday, Apr 19, 2019 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Where: Fort William Henry Conference Center, 48 Canada Street Lake George, NY 12845
Cost: Free
Talk and book signing by author Erik Schlimmer.

HOSTED BY: French & Indian War Society at Lake George
For more information please call: 518-668-5471.

Light refreshments provided.

Call for papers: 5th Czech Onomastic Conference, Ostrava, Czechia, April 20-22 2020

The Czech Academy of Sciences (Prague) and University of Ostrava invite you to take part in the 5th Czech Onomastic Conference (the ACTA 60 Onomastic Conference and the 3rd Ostrava Onomastic Meeting Event), which will be held in Ostrava, Czech Republic, April 20-22, 2020.

The conference is organized to the 60th anniversary of the Czech onomastic journal appearing as Acta onomastica since 1995. The topics are: approaches to proper names (etymological, functional, communicative and pragmatic, quantitative, etc.); proper names in the interdisciplinary focus; codification and standardization of proper names; proper names in the centre of polemics and discussion. The deadline for submission of abstracts is November 15, 2019. If you need further information, please contact (Lenka Krahulcová). Please include your surname and the abbreviation ACTA60 in the subject line of your e-mail.

How hard is it to spell Fort Myers?

A sign on U.S. 41 was replaced multiple times because Fort Myers and Cyclery were misspelled. (Photo: Melissa Montoya)

Is it that hard? Apparently so. The Southwest Florida city’s name is often misspelled. Most recently, an egregious misspelling has made its way onto a directional sign for the Fort Myers Cyclery – or the Ft. Meyer’s Cyclery – on U.S. 41.

By Friday morning, Fort Myers Cyclery owner Diane Holm said the sign was finally correct.  “The first sign had the incorrect name,” Holm said. “The second sign had it spelled incorrectly. The third sign has it spelled incorrectly.”  And so on and so forth, she said.  Holm said she wasn’t sure if this was the fourth or fifth sign.

“It’s been fun,” Holm said. “We had Fort Myer up there for a long time, no ‘s’ at all.”

Click through to read the whole article, including a quote from the ANS’s own Cleve Evens:

History aside, when it comes to spelling names, people are going to spell it with what they’re familiar with, said Cleveland Evans, a past president and current member of the executive board of the American Name Society.

As for the errant apostrophe, Evans said: “It’s a common mistake, but it’s somebody that doesn’t remember how to use it correctly and should not be employed by your state government as a sign maker, obviously.”

About Names: Leonard prospered even before Nimoy on “Star Trek”

Leonard Nimoy / Associated Press

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 26th column, he looks at the history of the name Leonard.

Live long and prosper!

That Vulcan greeting was popularized by actor Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015) as the “Star Trek” character Spock. Nimoy was born 88 years ago on March 26.

Leonard is a Germanic name combining words for “lion” and “hardy, brave.” It’s not as ancient as the similar Bernard (“bear-brave”) and Everard (boar-brave), because “lion” is from Latin. Lions aren’t native to northern Europe, so Germanic tribes learned about them as a symbol of power and bravery from the Romans. In medieval England, 177 churches were dedicated to St. Leonard. Families called Leonard had medieval ancestors named after him. In Ireland, Leonard was an English form of Leannán, “lover.” In the 1540s, the first decade all baptisms were recorded, Leonard ranked 24th for English boys. It remained among the top 50 until 1620.

In 1880, when Social Security’s yearly baby names lists started, Leonard ranked 78th. It rose in the early 20th century, partly due to immigrants. Leonardo was well-used in Italy because of artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), and Lev (Yiddish “lion”) was a common Russian Jewish name. Leonard was an American equivalent for both.

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