About Names: From saintly to ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ the name Conrad has fluctuated in popularity

Dick Gautier as Conrad Birdie in the 1960 Broadway Musical BYE BYE BIRDIE

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his January 3rd column, he looks at the history of the name Conrad.

Conrad is the modern form of an ancient Germanic name combining “kuoni” (brave) and “rad” (counsel.) The first famous Conrad was St. Conrad (900-975), bishop of Constance, a city on Germany’s border with Switzerland. He once drank a chalice of concentrated communion wine a spider dropped into. Because they thought that all spiders were poisonous, Conrad’s contemporaries saw this as proof of great bravery.

In 1880, when Social Security’s yearly baby name lists began, Conrad ranked 262nd. Though its use then drifted downward, this very German name surprisingly rebounded during World War I. Two men whose last name was Conrad may have helped. During the war, Austrian Field Marshal Franz Conrad, Baron von Hötzendorf (1852-1925), was considered a military genius despite many defeats. Perhaps more importantly, Polish-born British novelist Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), best known today for “Heart of Darkness” (1899), was then at the height of his fame.

Though hotel magnate Conrad Hilton (1879-1979) countered that image with one of wealth and power, the name fell to 836th in 2005.

About Names: A week to celebrate Ellen, a name with a long history

Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his December 7th column, he looks at the history of the name Ellen.

Ellen is the English form of Helen, derived from a Greek word for what’s today called “St. Elmo’s Fire,” light appearing around ship’s masts during thunderstorms, caused by electrical discharge. St. Helen was the mother of Constantine, the first Roman emperor to accept Christianity. Ninth-century English priest Cynewulf wrote about Helen’s travels to Palestine to find the “true cross” in “Elene,” one of the earliest surviving Old English poems.

In the 18th century, educated parents reintroduced Helen. Though Helen quickly took over in Scotland, in England and America, Ellen had more staying power. The 1850 United States census found 121,770 Ellens and 19,849 Helens. Around 1875, Helen started its American boom. Between 1900 and 1919, it ranked second for newborn American girls.

Though Ellen fell to 290th in 1985, it inched up the next decade as similar sounding Ella rose. After 1995, Ellen plummeted. This may be partly due to DeGeneres becoming a “one-name celebrity” through sitcom “Ellen” (1994-98) and her talk show. Of course, the Ellens born around the name’s 1946 peak are now in their 70s, giving it a “grandma” vibe to modern young parents.

“Arrokoth” Chosen 2019 Name of the Year, “Brexit” Name of the Decade

Composite image of primordial contact binary Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 from New Horizons Spacecraft Data

Arrokoth” was chosen the Name of the Year for 2019 by the American Name Society at its annual meeting in New Orleans on January 3, 2020.

The winner was also chosen ANS’s Place Name of the Year. In November NASA announced this as the name of “minor planet 486958.” Before the New Horizons probe flew over it on January 1, 2019, NASA received about 34,000 name suggestions. Their initial selection, Ultima Thule, was abandoned when it turned out that Ultima Thule was used by Nazi occultists as the mythical home of the “Aryan race.” Arrokoth means “sky” in Powhatan an extinct Algonquian language formerly spoken in eastern Virginia.

“Greta Thunberg” was chosen as Personal Name of the Year. Swedish climate activist Thunberg, who turned 17 on January 3, is a leader of the global youth addressing climate change. Chosen by Time magazine as its Person of the Year for 2019, her name itself has become a byword for youth activism. The influence of youth climate activism on politicians is now called “The Greta Effect”, and a documentary film about the movement is titled “Make the World Greta Again.”

#Fridaysforfuture won the title of Ename of the Year. This became the name of Greta Thunberg’s movement, referring to her original protests on Fridays in Sweden. In a relatively short period of time, this e-moniker has spawned many other e-names. It has also become the name for a global movement and has spawned names for analogous protest groups (#Fridaysforfuture→ Fridaysforfuture→Scientists for Future, Parents for Future, All for Future).

TikTok was voted Trade Name of the Year. The TikTok app for making and sharing short videos was launched internationally in September 2017 and now has more than 500 million users. It’s the first Chinese-made app to succeed on a mass scale outside China. The TikTok name, used only outside China, is based on tick-tock, onomatopoeia for clocks and a term for countdowns and minute-by-minute action.

“Baby Yoda” was chosen Artistic Name of the Year. In the Star Wars series “The Mandalorian,” which premiered on the Disney+ channel in November, the recurring character with the saucer eyes and batlike ears is known simply as The Child. However, critics and viewers quickly dubbed him “Baby Yoda.” The character is almost always referred to that way on social media. This is a highly unusual case where the name of a fictional character has been created by fans instead of those writing or producing the program.

“Antivax(x)er” was chosen as Miscellaneous Name of the Year. According to the World Health Organization, one of the ten largest threats to global health is the increasing reticence of adults to receive or allow those in their charge to be given a medical vaccination. People who are opposed to vaccination legislation have been given the name antivaxer or antivaxxer. Although Merriam Webster asserts that the name first was attested in English in 2009, the name reached particular prominence in 2019, when health organizations around the world began to ring the alarm about the deadly re-emergence of many contagious diseases. The highest rate of Google searches ever reached for the name of this resistance movement was in April/March of 2019.

Voters at the meeting spontaneously decided to designate a “Name of the Decade” for 2010-2019. “Brexit” won that title. This name for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European union, created by blending “Britain” with “exit”, was created before the June 2016 referendum on the issue. The term has remained in the news and has continued to spawn similar names. For example, “Grexit” refers to the proposal that Greece leave the European Union. In the United States, those who advocate that Texas and California become independent call their ideas “Texit” and “Calexit”, and the hashtags #Orexit, #Washexit, and #Nevexit are used by those who wish Oregon, Washington, and Nevada to join with California in a new nation. An internet list of terms dealing with Brexit is called “Brexicon”.

The Name of the Year vote has been held since 2004. “Jamal Khashoggi” was the 2018 Name of the Year. “Rohingya” was the 2017 Name of the Year. “Aleppo“won for 2016 , “Caitlyn Jenner” for 2015, “Ferguson” for 2014, “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 , 402-557-7524, or 402-210-7458.

A PDF version of this press release can be found here.

About Names: From Seymour to Fonda, Jane has had many ups and downs

Jane Fonda was arrested for a fifth time at the now-weekly climate change protests at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his December 21st column, he looks at the history of the name Jane.

Jane is an English feminine form of John, a biblical name from the Hebrew “Yahweh is gracious.” In 1066, England’s Norman invaders brought two Old French feminine forms of John with them. Johanne became Joan, while Jehanne became Jane. In medieval times, Jane was rare, while Joan was the third-most common name in England. Around 1450, Jane started to rise, especially among the upper classes.

Throughout the 19th century, Jane appealed to the British more than to Americans. In 1911, the census of England and Wales included 780,514 Janes. The 1910 American census had 191,665, though then the United States had 92 million residents to England and Wales’ 36 million.

Jane’s lowest point came in 2006 at rank 477. Surprisingly, since then it’s risen, three decades before a 1940s name normally would. That may partly be linked to the increasing prominence of English novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817). In 2007, the films “Becoming Jane Austen” (starring Anne Hathaway as the author) and “The Jane Austen Book Club” both appeared.

About Names: Has Elsa become a more popular name due to ‘Frozen?’

Elsa the character is so ubiquitous, helping to sell everything from lamps and Lego to pillows and piggy banks, that parents might be avoiding the name.

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his November 23rd column, he looks at the history of the name Elsa.

 Elsa is a Germanic short form of biblical saint’s name Elizabeth, which is Hebrew for “my God is an oath.” The first famous Elsa was also a fictional princess. Around 1200, German knight Wolfram von Eschenbach wrote “Parzival.” This epic poem includes the story of Lohengrin, Parzival’s son. When the Duke of Brabant leaves his throne to daughter Elsa, Lohengrin arrives in a boat pulled by a swan, promising to defend Elsa’s reign if she never asks his name. He weds Elsa. They rule Brabant for years until she finally asks the forbidden question, when he glides away in the swan boat.

The 1850 United States census included 1,169 Elsas. Elsa was still mostly a nickname. Immigration increased the number of Elsas and established it as a separate name. On Social Security’s yearly lists, Elsa peaked at 215th in 1890. After “Frozen” was released, newborn Elsas more than doubled in 2014, ranking the name 286th, but that was a flash in the pan. By 2018, Elsa plummeted to 888th, a startling reversal.

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

Renaming climate change: can a new name make us take action?

 

As a professional namer, Aaron Hall found himself thinking about the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” Are these scientific terms too neutral? Could the tools of branding and brand naming create a more resonant, powerful name to grab attention and inspire people to take action?

With all of this in mind, his team of wordsmiths developed the following new names for climate change: Global Meltdown, Global Melting, Climate Collapse, Climate Chaos, Boiling Point, Melting Point or Scorched Earth.

These options are subtle brand shifts from “global warming,” yet they deliver a more negative image. A meltdown is a disastrous event that draws from the ultimate terror of a nuclear meltdown, an apt metaphor for global destruction. In naming, we call metaphorical names “suggestive names,” and they are one of the most popular types of names.

Which do you like most?

About Names: Though of German origins, the name Irma really took off in France

Marion Rombauer Becker looks over “Joy of Cooking” with her mother, Irma Rombauer, in 1951. Irma Rombauer first published the cookbook in 1931.

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

The ninth edition of “Joy of Cooking” came out. Its first edition was privately published by author Irma S. Rombauer (1877-1962) in 1931.

Irma is a short form of Germanic names starting with “ermen,” meaning “whole” or “all.” Emma was originally a Norman French form of the same name. Several medieval saints in England and Germany had “ermen” names. Sixth-century forest hermit St. Ermelinde (“whole-soft”) is venerated in Belgium. St. Irmgard (“whole-enclosure”) of Chiemsee (830-866) was a great-granddaughter of Charlemagne who became an abbess. St. Ermenburga (“whole-fortress”) was a Queen of Mercia in England who founded a nunnery.

Unlike Emma, Irma wasn’t used as a name in its own right until around 1700. Though this began in Germany, Irma’s first big success came in France.

Homemaker humorist Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) is probably the most famous person with the “E” spelling, though gospel singer Erma Franklin (1938-2002), older sister of Aretha, is also well-known.

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

Voters will decide in a referendum on whether the island should compete as “Taiwan” rather than “Chinese Taipei”

A group of pro-independence advocates have claimed that Taiwan’s athletes would not be barred from international competition if a proposed name change for the island’s sporting teams went ahead, challenging a warning from the International Olympic Committee on the issue.

Voters will decide in a referendum this weekend on whether the island should compete as “Taiwan” rather than “Chinese Taipei” in all international sporting events, including the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

 

 

Taiwan has competed as Chinese Taipei since 1981, when Beijing – which sees the self-ruled island as a breakaway province to be reunited with the mainland – succeeded in making the IOC alter the island’s official “Republic of China” team name.

Since May 4, the IOC has warned the island three times that it risked losing its IOC membership and its athletes would not be allowed to attend international games if it pushed for the name change.

What is this “Name Day” Tradition in Spain?

Have you ever had a Spaniard inform you that today is special because “es el día de mi santo” (which literally means “it’s my saint’s day”)? While this is a foreign concept to most of us who grew up in the US, Spain and many other European countries have a long tradition of observing the Christian calendar of saints.

In Spain, families tend to choose names for their children that come from the Bible or are otherwise connected with history. Thus, they have a special day dedicated to each of these names and this day is almost like a secondary birthday for everyone with this name. Historically, many Spaniards would name their child after the saint whose day the child was born on but today that tradition is not so popular and it more common to have a saint’s day that does not fall on your birthday.

Read more here