Seeking New ANS Officers for 2020

Ever thought about getting more involved with the American Name Society but did not know how?  Here is your opportunity!  The American Name Society is currently looking for a few good people who are interested in joining the Executive Council.  Starting January 2020, new officers will be needed to fill the positions listed below.

To apply for one or more of these positions, please fill out the application form on this page.


Secretary (2020-2022)

The person in this position serves as a voting member of the ANS Executive Council and its various committees (e.g., the Nominating Committee).  Aside from these duties, the Secretary is responsible for taking and disseminating the official minutes from the ANS Business Meetings, creating the ANS newsletters, and sending our ANS members announcements regarding important events (e.g., the Nominating Committee’s Slate). The ideal candidate for this position must have outstanding writing and editing skills in English and be comfortable working with email mailing programs like MailChimp.

Membership Officer (2020-2022)

In addition to being a voting member of the ANS Executive Council (EC), the person in this office is responsible for managing the ANS membership database, both institutional and individual.  To accomplish this task, this officer must liaison with ANS members, the ANS Executive Council, the ANS Treasurer, and Taylor and Francis, the current publisher of the ANS Journal, NAMES. The person selected for this position must be computer literate and be comfortable working with spreadsheets.

Allied Conference Coordinator (2020-2022)

The person elected to this position is principally responsible for organizing the ANS session at the annual conference of the Modern Language Association. This activity involves issuing a call for papers, assembling a team of abstract reviewers, selecting three authors whose work will be presented at the MLA conference, and coordinating the presentation of the three winning abstracts with the MLA administration. In addition to these duties, as a voting member of the ANS Executive Council (EC), the Allied Conference Coordinator participates in the legislative decision-making of the Society. Although the term of service for this position is for two years, the holder of this office may be re-elected pending approval by the EC. Given the fact that this position requires close communication with the MLA, candidates who have a demonstrated expertise in literary onomastics will receive preference.

Member-at-large (2020-2022)

The person elected to this position will serve as a voting member of the Executive Council (EC) and is expected to participate actively in the legislative decision-making involved in resolutions and motions placed before the EC.  In addition to these duties, members-at-large serve on various auxiliary sub-committees to, for example, help with the nomination of new officers, coordination of the annual conference, and organization of allied conferences.  Officers in this position can renew their term of service twice.


About Names: Despite its dubious roots, Myrna’s popularity grew thanks to star power

Actor Myrna Loy

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August 2nd column, he looks at the history of the name Myrna.

There’s no place named Myrna in the United States. Williams was probably passing through Merna, Nebraska, when he saw the sign. Merna was founded as “Muddy Flats” in 1876 by Samuel Dunning, its first postmaster. In 1883, he moved 30 miles northwest to found Dunning, Nebraska. His friend William Brotherton, taking over the postmaster job, renamed Muddy Flats “Merna” after Dunning’s 7-year-old daughter.

David Williams may have deliberately altered the spelling to “Myrna,” or simply misremembered it. Both Myrna and Merna are thought to be Americanized respellings of Irish Gaelic Muirne, “festive.” In Irish legend, Muirne was the daughter of a Druid and mother of the great Irish hero Finn Mac Cool. The father of the earliest born Myrna in the United States census, Thomas Fox of Saunders County, Nebraska, was born in Ireland. Myrna Fox (1865-1929) is called “Murnie” on her 1882 marriage license to Perry Hadsall, and on her Idaho tombstone, reinforcing the idea that Myrna is a form of Muirne. Still, it’s a bit mysterious why over 2,000 American families, most in the Midwest without Irish ancestry, named daughters Myrna or Merna by 1910.

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

Pathways to understanding 16th century Mesoamerican geographies

Lancaster’s Department of History recently completed the project ‘Pathways to understanding 16th century Mesoamerican geographies’, directed by Raquel Liceras-Garrido, together with Katherine Bellamy.


Under the umbrella of the TAP-ESRC project ‘Digging into Early Colonial Mexico’ (DECM), this spin-off project combines interactive texts, images and maps with online interactive learning resources on the history, archaeology and geography of the Mesoamerican Postclassical and Colonial period of Central Mexico, covering the 14th to the mid-16th century.

These resources are divided into three main areas: A History of Mexico, Tracing Toponymy and Depicting Geographies. The dataset will be used for training and research purposes at Lancaster in the MA History, and also in the new MA in Digital Humanities starting this autumn.

Apostrophe S or not? Possessives and store names

Is it Nordstrom or Nordstrom’s? Kroger or Kroger’s? Sbarro or Sbarro’s? This fun article at MPR’s Marketplace quotes ANS Vice President Laurel Sutton about the confusion over possessives. What’s official, and what do people just assume? Here’s a sample:

Our minds tell some of us that it definitely needs the extra letter. That “s” — so brief, so unobtrusive, so natural sounding — sneaks easily into our lexicon. But oftentimes it’s unnecessary. (None of the aforementioned names are possessive.)  Adding to the confusion, sometimes companies don’t even follow their own naming conventions. It’s called “TGI Fridays,” but the company has also used the spelling “T.G.I. FRiDAY’s” in its logos and Nordstrom storefronts have displayed “Nordstrom’s” in the past.

Bonus: take the quiz at the end of the article to find out how many you know!

How you can request to name a place in Ontario

Geographic names help us describe our surroundings and identify historic, cultural and natural features on the landscape. In Ontario, they have the Ontario Geographic Names Board. The latter reviews applications for new names for unincorporated places or geographic features and submits recommended geographic feature names to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry for approval in accordance with the Ontario Geographic Names Board Act.

To request a name, applicants should note that

  • Board primarily considers the local usage of a name,
  • commemorative names are reserved for those who made an outstanding contribution to a local area, Ontario or Canada,
  • land ownership on its own does not warrant changing a well-established name,
  • Board does not support commemorative names for living persons,
  • Board does not endorse naming contests or competitions and will not accept the results of these activities

Should Delhi be renamed as Dilli?

Vijay Goel, the Indian Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Statistic and Implementation in the NDA government, demanded that the spelling of Delhi be changed to “Dilli”. Goel said he raised the query in the question hour session of the Upper House to which junior home affairs minister Nityananad Rai said the government would consider it if it received a proposal in this regard.

“Many people are anyway confused about the name as some call it Delhi while some others call it Dilli,” Goel said. He added that the demands for renaming the city to Indraprastha or Hastinapura had been raised earlier, but if Delhi had to stay then at least it should be correctly spelt.