Ever wondered how England got its name? As with countless other countries, it’s all down to a tribe of early settlers (in this case the fifth century Angles).
In fact, almost every country in the world is named after one of four things: 1) a tribe; 2) a feature of the land; 3) a directional description; or 4) an important person. That’s according to Quartz, which analysed 195 countries listed in the Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names.
The name given to the somewhat obscure study of place names itself is toponymy, and here you may find a selection of countries in each of the four categories, and how they got their monikers.
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August 30th column, he looks at the history of the name Ezekiel. Ezekiel is the English form of Hebrew Yechezqel, “God will strengthen.” The original Ezekiel was a Jewish prophet exiled in Babylon who wrote the Biblical book…
The historical names of several sites at Yosemite National Park, including the iconic Ahwahnee Hotel and Curry Village, are being restored thanks to a legal settlement in a long-running, much-watched trademark battle.
In a $12 million deal announced in July 2019, Yosemite’s former concessionaire, Delaware North, agreed to relinquish its claimed ownership of the park names and other intellectual property, which it says it acquired during nearly 25 years of running restaurants, motels and other services at Yosemite. The trademark claims, which park officials never agreed with, still prompted the park service in 2016 to rename the landmarks as well as alter slogans on T-shirts, ball caps and other souvenir merchandise.
Kush. Bud. Herb. Who knows what to call marijuana these days?
Born of the need for secrecy, slang has long dominated pot culture. But as entrepreneurs seek to capitalize on new laws legalizing recreational and medical marijuana, they too are grappling with what to call it. Heading to the dispensary to buy a few nugs or dabs? Marketers seeking to exploit the $10 billion market would prefer that you just called it cannabis. Shirley Halperin, an author of 2007’s “Pot Culture: The A-Z Guide to Stoner Language and Life,” has seen the shift in recent years. Keep reding here.
Actor Bernadette Peters
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August 16th column, he looks at the history of the name Bernadette.
The most famous Bernadette is St. Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), a miller’s daughter whose 1858 visions of a woman calling herself “The Immaculate Conception” were declared valid by the Roman Catholic church in 1862. The grotto near Lourdes in southern France where the visions occurred is one of the world’s most popular pilgrimage sites. Bernadette’s parents named her after medieval French monk St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). After she became a novice of the Sisters of Charity, Bernadette spent hours copying texts related to St. Bernard.
When Social Security’s yearly name lists started in 1880, eight Bernadettes were born, ranking it 634th. The name rose as Lourdes became known to devout Roman Catholics. Newborn Bernadettes almost doubled in 1934 after Pope Pius XI canonized St. Bernadette on Dec. 8, 1933. Hollywood had a bigger impact. “The Song of Bernadette,” starring Jennifer Jones as the saint, premiered on Dec. 21, 1943. Jones got a Best Actress Oscar for the role. In 1942, 373 Bernadettes were born, and 1,321 arrived in 1946, when it ranked 188th, its highest ever.
Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Bernadettes in history!
When the three-block-long park atop San Francisco’s transit center reopened, you’re again able to stand among green trees and shrubs and contemplate the changing city around us. Which from here looks a lot like — Brandopolis.
After all, this buoyantly landscaped aerie bears the official name of Salesforce Park, which in turn is the rooftop of Salesforce Transit Center. The glassy buildings around it are adorned with corporate logos for Deloitte, BlackRock, Trulia and Slack. One block to the west, Blue Shield of California Theater recently debuted at the corner of Howard and Third streets, six blocks north of Oracle Park, which itself is eight blocks north of soon-to-open Thrive City. More details here.
Memorable brand names are usually developed by marketing teams, but who comes up with the scientific-sounding, often difficult to pronounce names for generic prescription drugs? According to the Los Angeles Times, generic drug names are curated by the United States Adopted Names (USAN) program, a department within the American Medical Association composed of two women, Stephanie Shubat and Gail Karet, both scientists.
The pair’s naming process is as follows: They develop names for each of the nearly 200 annual drug applications, then their recommendations go to the five-member USAN Council, which meets twice a year, according to the Times. The names Shubat and Karet come up with are based on classifications of drugs and chemical relationships — the “stems” of drug names that treat similar symptoms typically sound the same or resemble each other, the LA Times explains.
Actor Myrna Loy
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August 2nd column, he looks at the history of the name Myrna.
There’s no place named Myrna in the United States. Williams was probably passing through Merna, Nebraska, when he saw the sign. Merna was founded as “Muddy Flats” in 1876 by Samuel Dunning, its first postmaster. In 1883, he moved 30 miles northwest to found Dunning, Nebraska. His friend William Brotherton, taking over the postmaster job, renamed Muddy Flats “Merna” after Dunning’s 7-year-old daughter.
David Williams may have deliberately altered the spelling to “Myrna,” or simply misremembered it. Both Myrna and Merna are thought to be Americanized respellings of Irish Gaelic Muirne, “festive.” In Irish legend, Muirne was the daughter of a Druid and mother of the great Irish hero Finn Mac Cool. The father of the earliest born Myrna in the United States census, Thomas Fox of Saunders County, Nebraska, was born in Ireland. Myrna Fox (1865-1929) is called “Murnie” on her 1882 marriage license to Perry Hadsall, and on her Idaho tombstone, reinforcing the idea that Myrna is a form of Muirne. Still, it’s a bit mysterious why over 2,000 American families, most in the Midwest without Irish ancestry, named daughters Myrna or Merna by 1910.
Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Myrnas in history!
Is it Nordstrom or Nordstrom’s? Kroger or Kroger’s? Sbarro or Sbarro’s? This fun article at MPR’s Marketplace quotes ANS Vice President Laurel Sutton about the confusion over possessives. What’s official, and what do people just assume? Here’s a sample:
Our minds tell some of us that it definitely needs the extra letter. That “s” — so brief, so unobtrusive, so natural sounding — sneaks easily into our lexicon. But oftentimes it’s unnecessary. (None of the aforementioned names are possessive.) Adding to the confusion, sometimes companies don’t even follow their own naming conventions. It’s called “TGI Fridays,” but the company has also used the spelling “T.G.I. FRiDAY’s” in its logos and Nordstrom storefronts have displayed “Nordstrom’s” in the past.
Bonus: take the quiz at the end of the article to find out how many you know!
Geographic names help us describe our surroundings and identify historic, cultural and natural features on the landscape. In Ontario, they have the Ontario Geographic Names Board. The latter reviews applications for new names for unincorporated places or geographic features and submits recommended geographic feature names to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry for approval in accordance with the Ontario Geographic Names Board Act.
To request a name, applicants should note that
- Board primarily considers the local usage of a name,
- commemorative names are reserved for those who made an outstanding contribution to a local area, Ontario or Canada,
- land ownership on its own does not warrant changing a well-established name,
- Board does not support commemorative names for living persons,
- Board does not endorse naming contests or competitions and will not accept the results of these activities
Vijay Goel, the Indian Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Statistic and Implementation in the NDA government, demanded that the spelling of Delhi be changed to “Dilli”. Goel said he raised the query in the question hour session of the Upper House to which junior home affairs minister Nityananad Rai said the government would consider it if it received a proposal in this regard.
“Many people are anyway confused about the name as some call it Delhi while some others call it Dilli,” Goel said. He added that the demands for renaming the city to Indraprastha or Hastinapura had been raised earlier, but if Delhi had to stay then at least it should be correctly spelt.