Onomastics Outside Academia Panel at ANS 2017 in Austin

ANS 2017 saw the first ever “Onomastics Outside Academia” Panel, in which professional onomasticians talked about their work and their career paths outside of the university.

The panel included the following presentations:

  • Pamela Redmond Satran (Nameberry.com): Nameberry: Revolutionizing how and what parents name their babies
  • Kemp Williams (IBM Corporation): Computational onomastics in threat and fraud detection
  • Lisa Spira (Ethnic Technologies):  Onomastic data skills
  • Laurel Sutton (Catchword Branding): Creating brand names for fun and profit
  • Jennifer Moss (BabyNames.com): How the internet changed baby names (careers)
  • Deborah Walker (Linguistic Consultant): Product naming reviews: Evaluating names for global readiness

Congratulations on a great panel, and many thanks to all of our speakers!

Pamela Redmond Satran

Lisa Spira


Jennifer Moss

Name of the Year 2015: Caitlyn Jenner


Fictional Names: Rey, Finn, and Poe … Names from the new Star Wars movie, which all have onomastic and cultural significance in how they (1) were created, (2) represent a character, and (3) will impact baby names

Personal Name: Caitlyn Jenner … representing many LGBT onomastic issues

Place Name: Denali … Mount McKinley Will Again Be Called Denali and the onomastic debate surrounding that change

Trade Name: Charlie Hebdo … French satirical magazine attacked by terrorists, whose name gave raise to the hash tag #jesuischarlie

Name of the Year: Caitlyn Jenner


Caitlyn Jenner was chosen the Name of the Year for 2015 by the American Name Society at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 8, 2016.

The name of the athlete and reality television celebrity who was formerly known as Bruce Jenner became known throughout the world during 2015. “Caitlyn Jenner is an example of how people in modern times are asserting their own identities by choosing their own names,” said Iman Nick, President of ANS. “Many cultures have allowed people to choose their own names after important life changes, and this right is being revived today in a positive ways by those like Caitlyn Jenner.”

Caitlyn Jenner was also voted Personal Name of the Year for 2015.

Charlie Hebdo was ANS’s Trade Name of the Year. The name of this French satirical magazine whose Paris headquarters was attacked in January 2015 by terrorists has become a symbol of free speech around the world. Its iconic status was only reinforced by the more recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Denali was voted Place Name of the Year. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell ordered the official national name of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, be changed to Denali last August. This put the federal designation in line with the official state of Alaska designation, but was criticized by many in Ohio, original home of President McKinley. The emotions aroused on both sides show the power of naming.

Rey, Finn, and Poe were voted Fictional Names of the Year. The names of three new characters in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” were cited for their expected impact on baby names in 2016. Rey is noteworthy for being a mostly male name given to a strong female character. Finn is significant as a name because it replaces the character’s impersonal designation, FN-2187, when he leaves the stormtroopers and joins the Resistance.

The American Name Society is a scholarly organization founded in 1951 devoted to studying all aspects of names and naming. The Name of the Year vote has been held since 2004. “Ferguson” was the 2014 Name of the Year, “Francis” for 2013, and “Sandy” for 2012.

For further information contact Dr. Cleveland Evans, chair of the Name of the Year committee, at cevans@bellevue.edu or 402-210-7458.

Linguistics Beyond Academia SIG Events

The Linguistics Beyond Academia Special Interest Group (SIG) is pleased to announce its activities at the 2016 LSA Annual Meeting in Washington DC:

  • Salon: Friday, 3:30-5 pm, January 8th
  • Linguistics Career Mixer: Saturday, 3:30-5 pm, January 9th


The salon is a chance for linguists working outside of academia to get together in a relaxed atmosphere to share experiences, resources, and tell the story of the transition from the university to the business world.… Read More

2016 Emerging Scholar Award Winner

Maryann Parada (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Ethnolinguistic emblems in Latino Chicago: Attitudes of the second generation toward names and naming

lico_photo_maryannThe 2015 Emerging Scholar Award Committee is pleased to announce this year’s winner: Maryann Parada from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The title of her submission is “Ethnolinguistic emblems in Latino Chicago: Attitudes of the second generation toward names and naming.”



This study explores the name-language interface in the identity stances and attitudes of Latinos raised in the U.S. It follows Thompson’s (2006) approach in considering the name-identity-language connections for bilinguals, and also responds to Joseph’s (2004) call for work on how individuals perceive and negotiate ethnolinguistic identity through their names. Complementing previous research into the naming decisions of Hispanic immigrant parents, I examine the name-based perspectives of the named themselves. Survey data provided by 54 Latino young adults from the Chicago area are analyzed to investigate the relationship between the ethnic character of the participants’ personal names and their responses on topics such as name suitability and satisfaction, name pronunciation preferences, name changes, and the importance of names as ethnolinguistic identity markers. While clear patterns emerged, the data also highlight the complex, and often contradictive, relationships between self, language, and name.


Maryann Parada is a doctoral candidate in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her interests lie in the sociolinguistics of minority Spanish, including issues in the areas of names and identity, language attitudes, family language policy, and heritage language pedagogy. Her recent publication in the Journal of Language, Identity and Education examines the role of birth order in the names of second generation Latinos in Chicago.


Attendees of the upcoming ANS annual conference in January will have a chance to hear her present her research in person.

As the ESA award-winner, Maryann will receive a cash award as well as a mentor who will assist her in preparing her research manuscript for possible publication in a future issue of NAMES. Click here for more information about the award.

This year’s ESA Committee was made up of Dr. Mirko Casagranda, Dr. Jan Tent, and Ms. Lisa Radding.