A City of Kyles

Water tower in Kyle, Texas (Photo by: Travis K. Witt, CC-BY-SA4.0)
Water tower in Kyle, Texas (Photo by: Travis K. Witt, CC-BY-SA4.0)

According to an article on NPR, the city of Kyle, Texas attempted to break the record of the number of people with the name “Kyle”. In the article, the city hoped “to bring people with the first name Kyle (spelled that way only) from all over the world to its “Gathering of the Kyles” event at the Kyle Fair A Tex-Travaganza”. While the record was 2,325 people, the city only managed to attract 1,490 people with the name “Kyle”. Read more over at NPR.

Who owns “Taco Tuesday”?

Clip art illustrating the basic contents of an American-style taco: protein, lettuce, tomato, and cheese wrapped in a crispy corn tortilla.
Taco clip art (Photo: public domain)

The answer to this question—”Who owns the ‘Taco Tuesday’ trademark?”—is actually quite straightforward: it’s American fast food chain Taco John’s. According to an article in The Guardian, the fast food chain Taco Bell is currently battling “to liberate [the] trademarked phrase”.

Taco John’s Chief Marketing Officer Barry Westrum is quoted by the Guardian saying, “It’s been ours for 34 years, and we’re very proud of that… To this day, Tuesdays are our bestselling days of the week. While Taco Tuesdays may have become part of the American lexicon, that doesn’t give our competition the right to take it from us.”

This timeline is contested, however, as evidence of businesses using the term back in the 1930’s was raised by author of Taco USA Gustavo Arellano. Read more about the Taco Tuesday trademark over at the Guardian.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the Name “Darren”

Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation (Photo: Public Domain)
Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 7th column, he discusses the name “Darren”.

Do you watch Ralphie ask The Old Man for an air rifle every December?

Darren McGavin (1922-2006), who starred as Ralphie’s dad in “A Christmas Story” (1983), was born 101 years ago today.

Darren’s origin as a first name is hard to track down. In Ireland, Darren is a rare variant of surname Darragh, Gaelic for “like an oak; steadfast.” A few Irishmen surnamed Darren came to America, but it stayed very rare.

The last name Darrin is slightly more common. A Darrin family from upstate New York are descendants of Ephraim Darwin, born in Connecticut in 1646. Darwin’s an English surname, either from Old English Deorwine (“dear friend”) or the river Derwent (“oak forest stream”).

These rare names don’t seem to have inspired the first name. Instead, Zane Grey did by creating Daren Lane, hero of his 1922 novel “The Day of the Beast.”

Unlike most of Grey’s works, “Beast” isn’t a Western. Daren is a soldier returning from World War I who is disturbed by Jazz Age immorality. Perhaps Grey created “Daren” from “daring.” Daren’s often addressed as “Dare.”

Though modern readers find Daren prudish and prejudiced, fans named sons after him. Middle names were rarely recorded in the census, but 10 examples of combination “Daren Lane” are found from 1930 onwards, showing the book’s impact.

The first year, at least five Darens were born was 1932. Alternate spelling Darren followed in 1936. Both stayed rare. In 1949, 12 Darens and five Darrens were born.

At birth, Darren McGavin was William Richardson. He took up acting after being a Hollywood set painter. Around 1946, he moved to New York to further his career. McGavin never wrote memoirs, and no full biography has appeared, so why he chose “Darren McGavin” as his stage name is a mystery. He did this before July 7, 1950, when the census found him living in Manhattan.

“Codex Sassoon” Sells for $38.1 Million

A page of Codex Sassoon (Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama, Public Domain)
A page of Codex Sassoon (Photo by Ardon Bar-Hama, Public Domain)

According to an article in USA Today, a 1,100 year-old copy of the Hebrew Bible has been auctioned for $38.1 million. Named for David Solomon Sassoon, a collector of Judaica and ancient manuscripts who purchased the codex in 1929, Codex Sassoon is considered one of the earliest complete copies of the Hebrew Bible. The buyer was a group known as the American Friends of the ANU Museum of the Jewish People; they plan to donate the codex to the museum in Tel Aviv.

Read more about the codex and its namesake over at USA Today.

Introducing the George Washington University “Revolutionaries”

A Bust of George Washington at GWU (Photo: Public Domain)
A Bust of George Washington at GWU (Photo: Public Domain)

According to a report in The Washington Post, the George Washington University Colonials are now the George Washington University Revolutionaries. The “Colonials” was a moniker that University leaders and students alike “deemed divisive and dated during a recent period of racial and social reckoning”. Nick Anderson writes, “Revolutionaries, tying to Washington’s role as a military leader in the American Revolution, is GWU’s first new nickname since Colonials was adopted in 1926. In the past few years, Colonials fell out of favor because the moniker was seen as a proxy for European imperialism, offensive to Indigenous peoples in the United States and elsewhere. Many non-White students, in particular, did not identify with the nickname.”

Read more over at The Washington Post.

“Swastika Mountain” Renamed Mt. Halo

Calapooya Mountains from Fairview Peak Lookout, Umpqua National Forest, Oregon (Photo: US Forest Service, Public Domain)
Calapooya Mountains from Fairview Peak Lookout, Umpqua National Forest, Oregon (Photo: US Forest Service, Public Domain)

“Swastika Mountain”, located Western Oregon’s Umpqua National Forest, was recently renamed “Mt. Halo”. According to an article on NPR, the change was a move supported by local residents. Though the swastika symbol and name belonged to a long-defunct cattle ranch in the area active in the early 1900’s (and the Sanskrit term dates back “as far back as 7,000 years and means good fortune or well-being”), residents believed the name acquired new meaning in the 20th century and was therefore no longer appropriate. The new name, Mount Halo, honors Chief Halito of the Yoncalla Kalapuya tribe.

Read more over at NPR.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the Top Baby Names of 2022

Photo of a newborn (Photo by Kimberly Vardeman, CC-BY-2.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 21st column, he discusses the top baby names of 2022.

On May 12, the Social Security Administration released the United States’ top baby names of 2022.

On SSA’s lists, Liam and Olivia were first, as they have since 2019.

SSA counts every spelling separately. I add together spellings pronounced the same, creating lists I believe more accurately show popularity.

When alternative spellings like Jaxon were added, Jackson was first from 2013 through 2020. In 2021, Liam beat Jackson for No. 1 for the first time. In 2022, Jackson declined again, allowing Noah to take second spot.

Liam and Noah are international baby name stars. Both rank in the top 10 in Switzerland, Sweden, Quebec, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Argentina. Noah’s also No. 1 in both England and Germany.

After Jackson, the rest of my 2022 male top 10 were Oliver, Elijah, Mateo, Lucas, Aiden, James and Luca. Mateo and Luca knocked Grayson and William back to 11th and 12th.

Mateo, the Spanish form of Matthew, rose 8.3%, jumping to sixth from 12th. Mateo got a boost back in 2015 when it was given to the baby on “Jane the Virgin.” Its rise shows the influence of Latin American culture on baby names in the United States. Mateo’s now No. 1 in Chile and Argentina, and No. 2 in Mexico.

Last year Santiago was No. 1 in Mexico. Santiago increased 19.8% here last year, third quickest rise among the top 100.

Luca rose 9.1% to reach the top 10, after soaring 37% in 2021. Luca’s the Italian and Romanian form of Luke, with Luka the same in Balkan Slavic languages.

Tasmanian Devils and Trademarks

Tasmanian Devil (Photo by Vassil, CC0 1.0, Public Domain)
Tasmanian Devil (Photo by Vassil, CC0 1.0, Public Domain)

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal explores the tricky subject of a familiar trademark of the tasmanian devil. The trademark is especially contentious for residents of Tasmania, including those who might want to name their sports teams after the local marsupial. Mike Cherney writes about the problem:

“Warner Bros., owner of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and other Looney Tunes personalities, has its teeth in more than a half-dozen trademarks in Australia linked to its Tasmanian devil cartoon character, often called Taz. Officials with the Australian Football League—the major league for Aussie rules football, which involves kicking a ball through uprights on a giant oval field—are concerned about legal issues with pursuing a Devils moniker because of those trademarks.”

Read more about this trademark issue over at The Wall Street Journal.

Call for Book Chapter Proposals: “Chosen, Bestowed, Acquired, Assigned: Names and Naming in Youth Literature”

“Children’s Literature” (Photo by Shambhavi Karapurkar, CC-BY-4.0)

Call for Book Chapter Proposals

Chosen, Bestowed, Acquired, Assigned: Names and Naming in Youth Literature

Edited by I. M. Nick and Anne W. Anderson

Just as names are among the first and most basic means by which we order and make sense of our world, so too do names in works of literature help readers order and make sense of created worlds. Moreover, names in literature often connote more than they denote. This edited collection will consider how names, depictions of naming practices, and explorations of name theory in youth literature can enrich our understanding of created worlds and, by implication, of our real world. For the purposes of this collection, we draw on the Children’s Literature Association’s conception of literature as “books, films, and other media created for, or adopted by, children and young adults around the world, past, present, and future” (https://www.childlitassn.org).

Chapters proposed for this volume might address names, naming, and name theory in youth literature of any media and/or modality, from any perspective, and using the analytical tools of any discipline. From the names of places, people, animals, and plants to the monikers of fairies and goblins, cyborgs and droids, any type of name from any time period or from any language is welcome. Please see the American Name Society’s glossary of naming terminology (https://www.americannamesociety.org/names/). The primary works examined may be fiction or non-fiction. The only subject-matter stipulation for submission is that the primary intended reading audience of the piece(s) of literature investigated must be youth (i.e., children, adolescents, and/or early adults).

The following is a partial list of possible topics, but we also welcome being surprised by other pertinent suggestions.

  • Names as chosen, bestowed, acquired, assigned, or self-selected
  • Naming practices, rites, rituals, and regulations and their implications
  • Literary devices or linguistic mechanisms used in creating names and their implications
  • Questions of unnaming and renaming of people, places, and things
  • Questions of names and identity, self-hood, and socio-cultural connection
  • Names as constructions of normal vs. abnormal, good vs. evil, acceptable vs. anathema
  • Theoretical frameworks for analyzing names in youth literature and media
  • Challenges and strategies for translating names
  • Names of the non-human, inhuman, mechanical, and systemic and their implications
  • Names in galaxies far, far away and in subatomic systems
  • Names as markers of political, ideological, historical controversies
  • Nonsensical names and/or memetic names and their implications
Proposal Submission Process

  • Abstract proposals (max. 500 words, excluding the title and references) should be sent as a PDF email attachment to Dr. Anne W. Anderson (YouthLit2023@gmail.com).
  • For organizational purposes, the proposals must include “YOUTHLIT2023” in the subject line of the email.
  • All proposals must include an abstract, a title, and a preliminary list of references.
  • The full name(s) of the author(s) and the author(’s’) affiliation(s) must appear in the body of the email. These details should NOT appear in the attached proposal.
  • In the case of multi-authored submissions, one person must be clearly identified as the primary contact.
  • The DEADLINE for proposal submissions is July 15, 2023. All proposals will be submitted to a double-blind review process. Authors will be notified about acceptance on or before September 15, 2023.
  • Final chapters (max. 7,000 words, excluding abstracts and references) will be due March 15, 2024.

For further information about this call, please feel free to contact Dr. Anne W. Anderson (YouthLit2023@gmail.com). We look forward to receiving your proposals!