The Italian Constitutional Court recently ruled that all children should be given both their mother’s and their father’s surname. The court argued that to be given the father’s surname name alone was “discriminatory and harmful to the identity” of the child. As a result of the ruling, both parents’ surnames will be included on the child’s birth certificate. Read more over at USAToday.
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 22nd column, he looks at the top baby names in the United States in 2021.
Liam’s finally No. 1 no matter how you spell it.
May 6 the Social Security Administration released the United States’ top baby names of 2021.
On SSA’s lists, Liam and Olivia rank first, as they did in 2019 and 2020.
SSA counts every spelling separately. I prefer to add together spellings pronounced the same, creating lists I believe more accurately indicate popularity.
From 2013 through 2020, when alternative spellings like Jaxon and Lyam were added in, Jackson ranked first. In 2021, Liam grew 3.14% to finally beat Jackson for No. 1.
Liam, an Irish short form of William, wasn’t even used as an official name in Ireland itself until around 1890. A top 10 name in England in 1995, Liam’s since spread around the world. It now ranks No. 1 in Quebec, No. 2 in Switzerland, No. 3 in Sweden, No. 5 in Belgium, No. 6 in Australia, Ireland, and the Netherlands, and No. 7 in Slovenia.
After Jackson, the rest my 2021 male top 10 were Noah, Oliver, Aiden, Elijah, Lucas, Grayson, James and William — the same names as 2020, with Oliver, now No. 1 in England, Australia and New Zealand, moving up a spot.
Luca was the top 100 boy’s name with the biggest leap, soaring 37% from 37th to 15th. Luca is the Italian and Romanian form of Luke, with Luka the same in Balkan Slavic languages.
The huge popularity of Noah and Elijah made parents used to boys’ names ending with Luca’s final vowel. Since 2000 it’s risen as a “different but not too different” alternative for Lucas and Luke.
In 2021 Pixar’s animated “Luca,” about an Italian sea monster boy who leaves the ocean to win a Vespa scooter, became the most-watched streaming film. This surely caused Luca to skyrocket. Luca joins Ariel and Elsa as animated characters inspiring baby names. In total there were 55% more boys named Lucas, Luca or Luke in 2021 than Liams.
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 8th column, he looks at the history of the name Iris.
Give someone a rainbow of flowers for Mother’s Day.
May 8 is Iris Day, celebrating flowers of the genus Iris. It’s also a legal holiday in Brussels, Belgium, where the regional flag features a yellow iris.
Iris is the Greek word for “rainbow.” Linguists trace it back to an Indo-European word for “bend,” referring to a rainbow’s distinctive curve in the sky.
Ancient Greeks personified Iris as a goddess. Iris was messenger for the chief Greek deities and served them nectar on Mount Olympus. Romans adopted her into their pantheon as special agent of goddess Juno. Iris is featured in both the Iliad by Greek poet Homer and the Aeneid by Latin poet Virgil, two of literature’s most famous works.
The flower’s been called iris since medieval times because it comes in a rainbow variety of colors. “Iris” has also been the colored part of the eye since the early 15th century.
Many assume Iris’ use as a girl’s name was taken from the flower, just as names like Hazel, Heather and Holly were inspired by plants. However, British historian George Redmonds believes the first rare use of Iris in the 18th century was after the goddess. Iris fit in with Doris and Phyllis, Greek names revived by 17th century poets. Iris then helped inspire other “flower” names.
Redmonds’ theory is supported by the oldest Iris in the 1850 United States census (first listing all free residents by name), 88-year-old Iris Amelotte, a Black woman born in Africa living with a white family in New Orleans. Iris was probably a freed slave named by a former owner. Some slave owners showed off their learning by giving slaves classical names like Hercules and Venus.
Ever thought about getting more involved with the American Name Society? Here is your opportunity! The American Name Society is currently looking for a few good people who are interested in joining the Executive Council. Starting in 2023, new officers will be needed to fill the positions listed below.
To apply for one or more of these Executive Council positions, please fill out the application form on this page.
Vice President (2023-2025)
The person elected to this position is primarily responsible for co-organizing the ANS annual conference in close cooperation with the ANS President. As conference co-chair, the person in this position will issue an official call for papers, organize a team of reviewers, design the program of paper presentations, and coordinate with the Linguistic Society of America and the other linguistic affiliates or “Sister Societies”: the American Dialect Society (ADS), the Society of Pidgin and Creole Linguistics (SPCL), the Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the America (SSILA), The Association for Linguistic Evidence (TALE), and the North American Association for the History of Language Sciences (NAAHoLS). In addition to these duties, the VP also serves as a voting member of the Executive Council and, as such, is actively involved in the legislative process of the ANS. The person selected for this office has the option of running for the office of ANS President, at the end of his/her term. Candidates for this position are expected to have superior organizational, time-management, and communication skills.
Allied Conference Coordinator (2023-2025)
The person elected to this position is principally responsible for organizing the ANS session at the annual conference of the Modern Language Association. This activity involves issuing a call for papers, assembling a team of abstract reviewers, selecting three authors whose work will be presented at the MLA conference, and coordinating the presentation of the three winning abstracts with the MLA administration. In addition to these duties, as a voting member of the ANS Executive Council (EC), the Allied Conference Coordinator participates in the legislative decision-making of the Society. Although the term of service for this position is for two years, the holder of this office may be re-elected pending approval by the EC. Given the fact that this position requires close communication with the MLA, candidates who have a demonstrated expertise in literary onomastics will receive preference.
The ANS is pleased to announce the launch of its official YouTube channel, home to videos from the 2021 and 2022 annual conferences. Currently we have 53 videos available, and will be adding more content from ANS events as they happen.
We are delighted that the amazing content from our conferences will now be available to everyone interested in onomastics. Please share on social media and with anyone who is fascinated with names.
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his April 24th column, he looks at the history of the name Barry.
As a surname Barry has several origins, including Scottish place-names meaning “grassy hill,” Welsh “son of Harry,” and Norman French “rampart.” Since surnames began becoming given names in the 17th century, some boys have been named Barry because of connections with Barry families. In Ireland, though, given name Barry is an Anglicized spelling of Bairre, a medieval pet form of Barrfind and Finnbarr, Gaelic names combining “barr” (top, head) with “finn” (fair).
In the 1850 United States census 30% of the 318 men with first name Barry were Irish-born. Many others had Irish ancestry. Like other immigrant names, Barry lost favor after 1900. It wasn’t even among the top thousand names between 1915 and 1922.
Barry peaked at 68th in 1946, and then plateaued at about 70th until 1961. After Arizona’s Senator Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) was on the cover of “Time” in 1961, Barry had its best baby name rank at 61st in 1962. Goldwater’s devastating loss to Lyndon Johnson in 1964’s Presidential election started Barry on its downslope. It left the top thousand in 2005.
Want to learn more? Read on to find out more the history of the name Barry!
Personal Names: An Introduction to Brazilian Anthroponymy, authored by Eduardo Tadeu Roque Amaral and Márcia Sipavicius Seide, Brazilian researchers specialized in the area of lexical studies, specifically focused on the discussion of personal names, fills an existing gap in Linguistics in Brazil, more specifically regarding onomastic studies, since it condenses different epistemological approaches on the subject without disregarding the historical and ideological dimension. Finally, it disseminates theoretical bases and methodological guidelines that support research in the field of anthroponymy/antroponomastics. It is also worth mentioning that the work is the result of theoretical reflections of the authors based on the results of research projects developed within the Postgraduate Programs to which they are linked. Most of these reflections were shared and discussed at the annual meetings of the Lexicology, Lexicography and Terminology Work Group (GTLEX), which is linked to the National Association of Graduate Studies and Research in Literature and Linguistics (ANPOLL), and congregates researchers associated to graduate programs in Linguistics with research lines that contemplate lexical studies in its different perspectives, including onomastic studies.
Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his April 10th column, he looks at the history of the name Jonas.
Jonas begins receiving memories in Omaha next week.
“The Giver,” a play by Dan Coble based on Lois Lowry’s 1993 young adult novel, opens at the Omaha Community Playhouse Friday. Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a society that eradicates pain by forbidding color, memory and individuality. Dissidents and the unwanted are “released” by poison. Jonas is chosen to be trained as the “Receiver of Memory” by The Giver, the present Receiver. They make a dangerous plan to reform their society and stop the “releasing” by restoring memory to all.
Jonas is the Greek form of Jonah (Hebrew Yonah, “dove”), the Old Testament prophet swallowed by a fish or whale. In the King James Bible, Jonah is used in the Old Testament, but nine mentions of the prophet in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke use “Jonas.”
After the Reformation, when parents turned to the Bible for names, Jonah and Jonas both appeared. Though not popular in Britain as a whole, Jonas was a top 10 name in West Yorkshire in the 1670s.
Britain’s 1851 census found 5,100 Jonases. The 1850 United States census, when the two countries had about the same population, found 8,039. Much of Jonas’ popularity in America was due to immigration from continental Europe. Jonas is the Old Testament as well as the New Testament form in most European languages. (Jonas is also the Lithuanian form of John.)
Like many Biblical and immigrant names, Jonas went out of style in the 20th century. It ranked 323rd in 1880 when Social Security’s yearly name lists start. By the 1930s it was rare; in 1958 and 1961 it wasn’t even among the top thousand.
The Department of Kazakh Language and Turkic studies of Nazarbayev University (Republic of Kazakhstan) together with the Institute of Turkic World Studies of Ege University (Republic of Turkey) will host the II International Symposium of Onomastics May 20-22, 2022 with the support of International Turkic Academy.
The purpose of the symposium – to discuss topical issues of Turkic world onomastics, to unite scientists working in this field, to stimulate scientists to new scientific research, to resume scientific discussions and debates, to define and bring to a unified system of naming principles in the Turkic world. We urge scholars and researchers working directly with onomastics, young specialists to contribute to the symposium.
Abstracts are due by 1 May 2022. For more on themes, directions, timelines, and contact information, see the full Call for Papers for the II International Onomastic Symposium.