American History reflected in proper names bestowed on many birds

Read the Ruth Bass’ article here.

Lewis’s Woodpecker, Deschutes National Forest, Near Fort Rock, Oregon

Dozens of birds bear the names of those credited with identifying them, like the Bonaparte’s gull honoring Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s nephew; the Cooper’s hawk, familiar to New Englanders, named for William Cooper, one of the founders of the American Museum of Natural History; the Blackburnian warbler for pre-Revolution naturalist Anna Blackburn.

But, what’s ruffling feathers in the American Ornithological Society today is a growing number of their scientists protesting the old practice of giving people names to birds. They are focusing on some of the so honored who reflect colonialism and on the fact that Indigenous peoples had met birds named for Audubon and Wilson and Cooper before those men were born.

About Names: ‘Psycho’ killer led to a major drop in popularity for Norman

American artist Norman Rockwell

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his November 8th column, he looks at the history of the name Norman.

 Norman is a Germanic name meaning “North man.” It became common as a given name in England after Danish Vikings invaded Britain in the ninth century. When the Viking-descended Normans from Normandy, France, conquered England in 1066, the name was reinforced. Families named Norman had medieval ancestors with the first name. In the 2010 census, there were 67,704 Americans with the surname Norman, ranking it 495th.

In 1880, when Social Security’s yearly baby name data begins, Norman ranked 133rd. It steadily increased, helped in the 1920s by matinee idol Norman Kerry (1894-1956), the Clark Gable of his day. Norman peaked at 37th in 1931, the year director Norman Taurog won an Oscar for “Skippy.” In 1938, Taurog directed Spencer Tracy in his Oscar-winning role as Father Flanagan in “Boys Town.”

Norman fell back to 132nd by 1960, when Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller “Psycho” featured killer Norman Bates. The next year, Sue Thompson’s hit song “Norman,” where “Norman knows my heart belongs to him and him and only him,” countered that image, but after 1965 Norman resumed its fall, leaving the top thousand in 2006.

What Is a Proper Adjective?

You may have heard of proper nouns, but have you ever heard of a proper adjective? Typically, proper adjectives take proper nouns and shift their function to fill the role of an adjective, or a word that’s modifying another noun. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what that means.

Like all adjectives, a proper adjective describes (modifies) a noun. What makes proper adjectives unique is that they are formed from proper nouns. That means they must be capitalized. Many proper adjectives are formed using the names of countries (or other specific places), religions or people’s names.

Proper nouns are, in fact, the origin of proper adjectives. Shakespeare is a proper noun, so Shakespearean is a proper adjective.

  • Shakespeare is a specific writer. It is a proper noun because it is the name of a particular person.
  • Shakespeare had a unique writing style, which is referred to as Shakespearean. Shakespearean is not a noun. It is an adjective, as it describes a type of writing.

Australia Post to support use of Aboriginal place names on mail

Australia Post says it will support the optional use of Aboriginal place names on mail addresses, following a large grassroots campaign.

The national mail service changed its guidelines this week to include advice on how to include traditional names. While some areas are known by their original names, many Australians often have little knowledge of place names that pre-date European settlement. Activists welcomed the endorsement of their push for greater awareness.

Aboriginal woman Rachael McPhail started the campaign on social media in August, noting Aboriginal people had lived in Australia for at least 60,000 years.

About Names: Jack’s reach has stretched from nursery rhymes to literary heroes

By Fox Fisher - https://instagram.com/p/9JSSulhigl/, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44467471

British food writer, journalist and activist Jack Monroe (Fox Fisher, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his October 25th column, he looks at the history of the name Jack.

Jack is an English nickname for John. In medieval England, “-kin” was common in nicknames, such as Wilkin and Adkin, from William and Adam. John led to Jankin, which became Jackin and then Jack. It’s possible confusion with Jacques, the French form of James, was also involved. By 1350, though, the English linked Jack to John, not James.

Around 1380, a third of Englishmen were named John. With so many Jacks, “jack” soon meant “common servant,” or any mechanical device doing servants’ work. By 1560, Jack Sprat was a skinny man. Jack and Jill have tumbled down hills since 1765. In 1660s Britain, a Jack-o’-lantern was a night watchman; in the United States, it became a candle-lit, carved Halloween pumpkin around 1834.

In 1996, Jack was back in Social Security’s top hundred. It peaked at 34th in 2005. That new popularity is exemplified by Omaha-based singing duo Jack & Jack (Gilinsky and Johnson), both born in 1996.

Then the American love of two syllable forms caused Jackson to explode to the No. 1 status it’s held since 2013. Between 2006 and 2015, Jack receded as Jackson boomed. Since 2017, as parents tire of Jackson, Jack has surged 10%. The 9,393 born last year ranked it 27th on my “combined spellings” list, beating John as an official name for the first time ever.

Holocaust Education Week lecture explores discrimination based on names

The Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University will host an event on November 3 2020 that explores how Nazis used names to fulfill Hitler’s genocidal vision.

The event runs during 2020 Holocaust Education Week and features a lectures with guest presenter Iman Nick on “Hitler’s Lists: How the Nazis Used Names to Spawn the Holocaust.” It runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Zoom.

Even before the infamous Yellow Star, the Nazis devised a simple yet effective method to pinpoint victims for wide-spread discrimination, marginalization, relocation, deportation and finally extermination. Using first-hand accounts from Holocaust survivors and documents unearthed from the once secret files of the Nazi Party, this lecture tells the story of how personal names were used to fulfill Hitler’s genocidal vision. The talk will also present modern-day examples in which something as seemingly innocuous as a person’s name has been used to carry out crimes against humanity.

Register online here to join the virtual event.

How Cleveland got its name

Cleveland takes its name from General Moses Cleaveland, a surveyor and investor for the Connecticut Land Company who led the first group to settle in the area in 1796. Cleaveland oversaw the planning of the early town, then headed back to Connecticut a few months later and never returned to the town that bears his name.

It’s not exactly clear when the first “a” in his surname got dropped from the city’s name, but one story explains that in 1830 the Cleveland Advertiser was pressed for space on its headline and simply axed the “a.” The change caught on, and the town became known as Cleveland.

About Names: Historical Carries did not keep calm, but the name has carried on

TV personality Carrie Ann Inaba

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his September 12th column, he looks at the history of the name Carrie.

Carrie is a pet form of Caroline. That feminine form of Charles (Germanic “a man”) was introduced to England by Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737), Queen Consort of King George II. Its use soared in 1820 when her great-grandson George IV unsuccessfully tried to divorce his wife Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821), making her a tragic heroine to Americans.

The 1850 U.S. Census, the first listing all residents by name, includes 123,617 Carolines and 152 Carries. Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947) led the fight for women’s suffrage and founded the League of Women Voters in 1920, becoming as famous as Carry A. Nation. Both, however, helped give Carrie an elderly image after 1900. It fell off as a baby name, bottoming out at 241st in 1950.

Carrie began booming again in the 1960s, about a generation earlier than expected. It was seen as an alternative for Karen, and also was helped by Kerry and Kari. Kerry, an Irish place name and surname, and Kari, a Norwegian form of Katherine, have different origins than Carrie. Most Americans, though, pronounce all three the same.

About Names: Hurricanes can cause a brief rise in a name’s popularity, then a drop

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August 29th column, he looks at the history of hurricane names.

During World War II American meteorologists commonly gave women’s names to storms they tracked. This was practical: Using names is quicker and less error-prone than the previous latitude-longitude identification method. It reduces confusion when two or more tropical storms are active — as illustrated recently with Laura and Marco.

In 1951 and 1952, the National Hurricane Center used a phonetic alphabet (Able, Baker, Charlie, etc.) to name tropical storms. In 1953, it began using lists of women’s names. In 1979, male names were added, six rotating lists were created and the task of maintaining the lists turned over to a committee of the World Meteorological Organization.

How do hurricanes affect baby names? Names of infamous hurricanes often bump upward for babies in the year they occur, and then fall back. Katrina, which had been receding, rose 13% in 2005. Since 2005, it’s nosedived as “Katrina” has become an ongoing symbol of disaster. Similar if less sharp rises and falls occurred with Camille (1969), Celia (1970), Mitch (1998), Lili (2002), Charley (2004), Ike (2008) and Sandy (2012).