Call for papers: Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland’s Spring Conference, Wales, April 17-20 2020

The SNSBI’s 29th Annual Spring Conference will be held in the Best Western Heronston Hotel (Bridgend, Wales, UK) on April 17-20, 2020.

Proposals are invited for twenty-minute papers and short project reports on any aspect of name-studies in Britain and Ireland. Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent by 31 October 2019. Informal enquiries are also welcomed.

Proposals for papers should be sent to:

Dr Rebecca Gregory
School of English
University of Nottingham NG7 2RD

ANS2020 Conference – Banquet Information

The American Name Society will hold its annual banquet during the conference in New Orleans at the Grand Isle Restaurant, 575 Convention Ctr. Blvd, New Orleans, LA, 70130. The banquet will be held Saturday evening, January 4, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. We will have a private room.


The Grand Isle has made a number of “best of” and “top ten” lists in the city for its fine New Orleans cuisine. The restaurant is two blocks from the conference hotel. If someone is not able to make the short walk, there are transoms that travel from the hotel to the restaurant for a reasonable fee.

The Barataria Pass Menu includes a choice of starters (seafood gumbo or house
salad), a choice of entrees (baked fish, roasted chicken, or vegetarian option), and lemon ice box pie for dessert; coffee is included.

Rather than prepaying, this year we ask that members pay onsite at the restaurant, either by cash or check. Each of the individual meals will be $50, which covers dinner, sales tax, and a 20% tip. Drink tabs for additional beverages will be separate for guests and paid separately.

We hope to see you at the banquet!

In Memoriam: John Algeo (1930-2019)

John Algeo

Long time ANS member, past ANS President (1984), and names scholar John Algeo passed away on Sun., Oct. 13th 2019, at the age of 88, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Over the years he published several important articles in Names. The American Name Society would like to express its sincere condolences to the Algeo family.

He served as president of the American Dialect Society in 1979 and was the editor for American Speech from 1969 to 1982, overseeing the journal’s transition to becoming the official organ of the ADS in 1970. He also served as chair of the society’s New Words Committee, and in that capacity edited “Among the New Words” for American Speech from 1987 to 1997, joined for most of that time by his wife Adele as co-editor. They commemorated the 50th anniversary of the feature in 1991 with the publication of the book 50 Years Among the New Words. He also wrote and edited many other valuable works on American English, including Cambridge History of the English Language: Vol. VI, English in North America (2001), British American Grammatical Differences (2004), The Origins and Development of the English Language (6th ed., 2005), and British or American English? A Handbook of Word and Grammar Patterns (2006).

His obituary in the Bowling Green Daily News can be found here.

About Names: Blake could mean black or white, could refer to a boy or a girl

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his September 27th column, he looks at the history of the name Blake.

lake’s an English surname. In Old English, blæc meant “black” while blac meant “pale.” Both became nicknames referring to hair color or complexion. By medieval times, the words were confused, so Blake families don’t know if their medieval ancestor was swarthy or fair. In Ireland, Blake was also an English form of Ó Bláthmhaic, derived from a personal name meaning “flower son.” There were 73,797 Americans with the surname Blake in 2010, ranking it 447th.

In the 19th century, parents began using surnames as given names. The 1850 United States Census found 266 men and boys called Blake. A few Southern girls were named Blake in the early 20th century. Then in 1988, daytime soap “Guiding Light” rapidly aged child character Christina Thorpe (born in 1975), reintroducing her as an adult going by her middle name, Blake. Blake Thorpe Marler (played 1989-92 by Sherry Stringfield and later by Elizabeth Kiefer) endured the birth of twins thought to have been fathered in a one-night fling who later turned out to be her husband’s after all. Enough “Guiding Light” fans named daughters Blake to just get the name into the top thousand between 1990 and 1997.

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

Call for Papers: CSSN: Joint Session, Canadian Society for the Study of Names and the Canadian Association of Hispanists (CAH), Ontario, Canada, May 30-31 2020

The Canadian Society for the Study of Names (CSSN) / Société canadienne d’onomastique (SCO) and the Canadian Association of Hispanists (CAH) will hold their annual meetings as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Canada, May 30-21, 2020, at Western University in London, Ontario.

They welcome abstract proposals on any onomastic theme in the Spanish-speaking world, including but not limited to:

  • Personal names (e.g. family names, nicknames, naming trends and systems, etc.)
  • Place names (e.g. streets, settlements, rural names, rivers, etc.)
  • Names in literature
  • Names in society (e.g. identity, power, perceptions, attitudes, forms of address, etc.)
  • Names and linguistic landscape (e.g. public road signs, advertising billboard signs, street signs, commercial shop signs, etc.)

Please see the official call for papers for more details.

DEADLINE: Proposals must be received by January 25, 2020.



Seminar “The Names of the Gods! 4: Exploring the potentials of the name in images, in narratives”

The MAP project (Mapping Ancient Polytheisms. Cult Epithets as an Interface between Religious Systems and Human Agency; 741182) at the Université Toulouse 2 works on the systems of naming of the divine in the Greek and Western Semitic worlds (ca. 1000 BCE – ca. 400 CE). Its Seminar “The Names of the Gods! 4: Exploring the potentials of the name in images, in narratives” pursues the investigation on the systems of naming of the divine. By focusing on names, images and narratives, we will look for connections but also discrepancies, in order to highlight, from duly selected cases or files, the specifications of the different languages used to unfold the potentials of the divine names. In the spirit of the MAP project, we will pay special attention to the links that the names, the images and the narratives convey.

Call for papers: Personal Names and Cultural Reconstructions


This volume aims to explore, how names show and create this cultural background, within both historical and contemporary contexts. In the abstract, you should give the title and a brief description of your article: aim and focus, data and methods, possible preliminary results, and connection to the volume theme.

The abstract should be no longer than 300 words. Please send your abstract before November 1 st 2019 by filling in this e-form. The authors will be notified about the acceptance of their abstracts during November. Full article manuscripts should be submitted for the peer-review until the end of January 2020. The final volume will be published during the summer 2020.

Frome tops list of most difficult to pronounce place names in the UK

A market town in Somerset has topped a list of the 10 most difficult-to-pronounce place names in the UK.

Frome is the most mispronounced town in England, according to a team of linguists behind a language learning app. Ballachulish in Scotland, Beaulieu in Hampshire and Woolfardisworthy in Devon also made the top 10. The list’s makers said British English was “famous for some of the most confusing pronunciations on earth”.

‘How do you say?’: The Top 10 ‘most difficult’ place names

Frome, Somerset, England
Ballachulish, Highland, Scotland
Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, England
Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Woolfardisworthy, Devon, England
Beaulieu, Hampshire, England
Bicester, Oxfordshire, England
Ynysybwl, Cwm Clydach, RCT, Wales
Rampisham, Dorset, England
Quernmore, Lancashire, England

City of South Fulton considers name change for 2nd time in 2 years

For the second time in two years, the City of South Fulton is considering renaming the city — and officials are asking for the public’s help. In 2017, just months after incorporating, the city tried and failed to change its name to Renaissance. This time around, Mayor Bill Edwards says there will be more community input.

Councilwoman Helen Willis explained that anything negative that’s associated with the Fulton County region has been associated with the city. Each council member from each district will select two people, and those 14 people will be part of the task force. The task force will hold forums to get suggestions from people who actually live and work in the city.

The city plans to engage the community, to come up with five names that they will then solicit for their legislators to get a referendum to place on the ballot in 2020.