In Memoriam: Don Orth (1925-2019)

Long-time ANS member and past president of the American Name Society Donald J. Orth died peacefully at his home in Falls Church, Virginia on October 30, 2019 at the age of 94. Donald presented papers at numerous ANS meetings over the years. He served as the executive Secretary of the U. S. Board on Geographic Names, and among his many publications on toponymy was the highly regarded Dictionary of Alaska Place Names. Don was a significant contributor to the work of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographic Names.

A native of Wisconsin, Don joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He studied anthropology, cartography, and geography at the University of Wisconsin, knowledge essential for his 39-year career with the U. S. Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado. There he was involved with topographic surveying programs in the Western United States. He was also behind the creation of the automated Geographic Names Information System, the first of its kind in the world. Orth received the U.S. Department of Interior’s Medal and Meritorious Service Award for substantial contributions to cartography through his work in toponymy.

Don taught courses in Geography at George Washington University and Catholic University in Washington D.C. He was a member of the International Congress of Onomastic Sciences. Don engaged in many active hobbies, including mountain-climbing and historic preservation. Don is survived by his wife, Martha B. Orth, five grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 17 great-great grandchildren.

Documentary Film on Changing Slave Names to Screen at ANS 2020 in New Orleans

A documentary film by first-time film maker and director Nware Rahsaan Burge will be screened at the 2020 ANS Conference. The event will be held on Friday evening, January 3, at 6:30 p.m. in the Steering Room of the Hilton Riverside Hotel, New Orleans. Titled “DNA—Using Genealogy to Change my SLAVE Last Name,” the film poses the question, “Should Black people change their White last name?”

The film features Dr. Gina Paige of African-Ancestry.Com as well as New York State Senator Kevin Parker and other university scholars who provide their responses to what Burge terms “this complex and sensitive” question. Nware’s film proposes that people of African descent in the Americas should contemplate using DNA genealogy test results to change their European surname to one of African ethnic origin.

With his film, Burge hopes to facilitate a global discussion on this subject. He states, “Regardless of personal opinion, the legacy of chattel slavery, specifically plantation ownership, will forever live when the current surnames of African-Americans are passed from generation to generation without much grievance.”

As a result of the transatlantic slave trade, thousands of Africans were stripped of their names and their identities. Burge notes, “Many of the surnames that were given or forced, if not all, were of European ancestry. So instead of African-Americans having surnames such as Diallo, Agbaje, or Nkrumah, African-Americans carry surnames such as Smith, Johnson, or O’Connor.” Burge recommends that African-Americans use DNA genealogy test results to change their European surnames to those of African ethnic origin. In fact, Burge plans to use DNA genealogy test results to decide on a new surname for himself. “

“DNA—Using Genealogy to Change my SLAVE Last Name” has already garnered critical acclaim. It received the Yaa Asantewaa award for Best Documentary at the Black Star International Film Festival in Accra, Ghana and was nominated for Best Documentary at the Newark International Film Festival in Newark, New Jersey. He has been interviewed by the BBC-radio in London to discuss his work. This past April, Nware was invited to screen his film at the Festival International Du Film Pan-African in Cannes, France.

In addition to being a documentary filmmaker, Burge is an Adjunct Professor at Kean University in Union, New Jersey and a history and special education high school teacher in Newark, New Jersey. He also co-owns Good Vibes Clean, an all-purpose organic cleaner and is a clothing model. Nware earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts/Political Science from Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York and an M.S. in Education from Brooklyn College, in Brooklyn, New York. Nware has worked and taught in urban public schools for more than 15 years. Born in Hackensack, New Jersey, Nware currently resides in Newark.

Call for papers: “The Place of Memory and the Memory of Place” International Conference, Cambridge, UK, June 20-21 2020


“The Place of Memory and the Memory of Place” International Conference aims to spark new conversations across the field of memory and place studies. Papers are invited on topics related, but not limited, to:

  •  monuments and sites of trauma
  •  childhood homes
  •  city space and sightseeing
  •  burial places (graves, cementaries, necropoleis)
  •  ruins and forgotten places
  •  heterotopias and heterochronies
  •  toponymy and topoanalysis
  •  cartography and mapmaking

Conference Web-Site:

Country: United Kingdom

City: Cambridge

Abstracts due: 01.02.2020

Dates: 20.06.20 — 21.06.20

Call for Papers: 11th CERLIS CONFERENCE, Translation and Gender in the Profession, Bergamo, Italy, June 25-27 2020

CERLIS – the Research Centre on Specialised Languages is now accepting submissions for the 11th CERLIS CONFERENCE Translation and Gender in the Profession, which will be held in Bergamo, 25-27 June 2020 via EasyChair.

Confirmed plenary speakers are:

Jane Sunderland (University of Lancaster)
Pascale Sardin (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne)
José Santaemilia (Universitat de València)
David Katan (Università del Salento)

Abstracts and presentations should reflect at least one of the following themes:

– LSP translation, transcreation and gender issues
– Interpretation, community interpreting and gender issues
– LSP translation accuracy and gender issues
– Audiovisual translation from a gendered perspective
– Teaching translation and interpreting from a gender perspective
– Methodological approaches and translation practices and gender issues
– Corpus-based translation research and gender issues
– LSP Terminology, translation and gender sensitivity
– Language, gender and translation in business contexts
– Translation and gender-based analysis in academic discourse
– Translation and gender-based analysis in science/health research
– Gender issues in scientific and technical translations
– Translation, gender and participant roles in court interpreting
– Language, gender and translation in popularized forms of LSP discourse
– LSP, EU legal language and gender
– Translation, gender and the Media
– Gender issues in the translation of tourist texts

Deadline for proposals: 31st January 2020

Full details of the conference can be found here


Naming the Sacred: Religious Toponymy in History, Theology and Politics

The new publication on religious toponyms has been recently published by Anna Mambelli and Valentina Marchetto.

At what point is a place perceived as holy? And when does it become officially so in its definition? Inspired by the UNESCO debate and decisions made concerning holy places, the authors seek answers to these questions. “Naming the Sacred” is a diachronic excursus into the issues of perception and denomination of holy places. The volume examines historical cases in which names and places have been modified or literally eliminated and others where places were subject to policies of protection and tutelage. The work appertains to an ongoing, evolving global debate where the challenge of the reciprocal recognition of holy sites has become increasingly complex.

Ophthalmia and the toponymy of outback Australia

Two men — one a 19th century explorer and the other a 20th century surveyor of the Australian outback — suffered blinding ophthalmia during crucial times in their exploits. Each then undertook a distinctive step in toponymy by naming places in the Australian landscape after their afflictions, each place given a different name. Ophthalmia Range was named by Ernest Giles in 1876 after suffering debilitating conjunctivitis, known as ophthalmia in the 19th century. Sandy Blight Junction was named by Len Beadell in 1960 when he too suffered from this disease, also known as “blight” or “sandy blight”. While there has been speculation that what these men suffered was actually trachoma, this cannot be proven. This is both the story of how these places acquired their names and a study of what motivated these men to undertake such unique acts.

The Most Common Last Names in North America

To determine the most common last name in every country, NetCredit analyzed surname data from genealogy portal, various country censuses and other sources. Etymological information came from the Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, and a number of other sources.

The United States is representative of the mix of surnames found throughout the North American continent. Brown, the most common surname in Jamaica, is the fourth most popular U.S. surname. Rodriguez, the most common surname in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Panama and the Bahamas, is also very common in the U.S. The list of the top 25 surnames in the United States includes the most common surname in two-thirds of North American countries.

Geographical Names Board calling for feedback on Medowie public reserve name

The Port Stephens community (New South Wales, Australia) is being called on by the Geographical Names Board to have their say about a proposal to formally name a Medowie reserve after the iconic Bower bird.

Board chair Narelle Underwood said feedback was being sought on Port Stephens Council’s proposal to name a public reserve located north of Topaz Avenue, within The Bower residential estate, as Bower Reserve. “It is important that place names reflect the character and history of the local area and community,” Mrs Underwood said. They want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to provide their feedback on the proposed name. According to the submission, the name is derived from the estate name that the reserve is located in.

Call for Nominations for the 2019 Names of the Year

The American Name Society requests nominations for the Names of the Year for 2019. The names selected will be ones that best illustrate, through their creation and/or use during the past 12 months, important trends in the culture of the United States. It is not necessary, however, for a nominated name to have originated in the US. Any name can be nominated as long as it has been prominent in North American cultural discourse during the past year. For example, the Overall Names of the Year for 2017 and 2016 were Rohingya and Aleppo. Jamal Khashoggi was chosen the Name of the Year for 2018. Charlie Hebdo, the title of the French satirical magazine, won Trade Name of the Year in 2015.

Nominations are called for in the five following categories:

  • Personal Names: Names or nicknames of individual real people or individual animals.
  • Place Names: Names or nicknames of any real geographical location, including all natural features, political subdivisions, streets, and buildings. Names of national or ethnic groups based on place name could be included here.
  • Trade Names: Names of real commercial products, as well as names of both for-profit and non-profit incorporated companies and organizations, including businesses and universities.
  • Artistic & Literary Names: Names of fictional persons, places, or institutions, in any written, oral, or visual medium, as well as titles of art works, books, plays, television programs, or movies. Such names are deliberately given by the creator of the work.
  • E-Names:  Names of persons, figures, places, products, businesses, institutions, operations, organizations, platforms, and movements that exist in the virtual world.
  • Miscellaneous Names:  Any name which does not fit in the above five categories, such as names created by linguistic errors, names of particular inanimate objects, names of unorganized political movements, names of languages, etc. In most cases, such items would be capitalized in everyday English orthography.

Winners will be chosen in each category, and then a final vote will determine the overall Name of the Year for 2019. Anyone may nominate a name. All members of the American Name Society attending the annual meeting will select the winner from among the nominees at the annual ANS meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 3, 2020. The winner will be announced that evening at a joint celebration with the American Dialect Society.

Advance nominations must be received before January 1, 2020. Nominations will also be accepted from the floor at the annual meeting. Please send your nominations, along with a brief rationale, by e-mail to either Dr. Cleveland K. Evans: <> or Deborah Walker:<>

The Call for Nominations can be downloaded here.