Congratulations to McGill BA student, Marielle Côté-Gendreau, who was recently awarded the American Name Society Emerging Scholar Award, which recognizes “outstanding scholarship of a names researcher in the early stages of his/her academic or professional career”. She received the award for her submitted article “Tracking Napoleon, his name and his myth in 19th century French Canada: Sociodemographic regard on a revealing naming pattern“, at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Name Society, which meets concurrently with the Linguistics Society of America, last week in New Orleans. Congratulations Marielle!
January 7-10 2021, Toronto, Canada
The American Name Society is inviting abstract proposals for a panel with the literary theme “Toponyms and Literaryscapes”. Although toponyms are often taken for granted in our daily lives, they bear considerable potential for acquiring personal and social meanings depending on their contexts and co-texts of use. These multi-layered meanings are often utilized by authors as a literary resource to evoke associations or invoke evaluative positioning. Papers accepted for this panel will explore how the meaning potential of place-names—be they real or fictional—is effectively harnessed to shape literary settings within specific works or by specific authors. Examples of themes that can be addressed include toponyms choice/invention and their connotations; toponyms in translation; toponyms in literary theory; and toponyms and intertextuality.
For more information about the MLA, check out the official website.
Proposal submission process:
- Abstracts proposals (350 words) should be sent as an email attachment (PDF format) to Dr. Luisa Caiazzo (firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Proposals should include “MLA 2020 proposal” in the subject line of the email;
All submissions must include an abstract title, the full name(s) of the author(s), the author(s) affiliation(s), and email address(s) in the body of the email and NOT with the abstract
- DEADLINE: Proposals must be received by 8pm GMT on 30 April 2020. Authors will be notified about the results of the blind review on or by 8 May 2020
- Contributors selected for the thematic panel must be members of both MLA and ANS in order to present their papers
- For further information, please contact Dr. Luisa Caiazzo <email@example.com>.
More information about ANS and MLA conferences is available on the Conferences page of this website.
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.
SUB-AREA ONE: the relationship between names, naming, the law and one of the following areas of identity: gender identification, sexual orientation, ethno-racial classification, family status, political affiliation, socio-economic attainment, religious denomination; nationality and citizenship, etc.
SUB-AREA TWO: the analytical methods used by private industry and/or governmental agencies to covertly or overtly extrapolate information about name-bearers’ potential identity using onomastic data.
The focus of this publication is placed upon nations where English is used as either a national or official language. However, chapter proposals that draw comparisons with other geolinguistic areas are also welcome. Proposals may explore any type of name (e.g. personal names, place names, trade names, brand names, etc.). The intended readership for this publication is made up of university students in advanced courses (upper undergrad/grad) as well as researchers in the disciplines of linguistics, language policy, law, history, sociology, government and politics. Despite the interdisciplinary appeal of this publication, this volume is primarily intended for students and scholars in language/linguistics. Researchers are encouraged to contact Dr. Nick with any questions regarding the suitability of envisioned themes. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Revised Proposal Submission Deadline: February 1, 2020
ANS Editor-in-Chief and former President Iman Nick has just published a new book, Personal Names, Hitler, and the Holocaust: A Socio-Onomastic Study of Genocide and Nazi Germany (from 2019 Lexington Books: An Imprint of the Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.). The book is available now in hardcover and Kindle editions.
This book provides readers with an increased understanding of and sensitivity to the many powerful ways in which personal names are used by both perpetrators and victims during wartime. Whether to declare allegiance or seek refuge, names are routinely used to survive under life-threatening conditions. To illustrate this point, this book concentrates on one of the most terrifying and yet fascinating periods of modern history: the Holocaust. More specifically, this book will examine the different ways in which personal names were used by Nationalist Socialists and targeted victims of their genocidal ideology. Although there are many excellent scientific and popular works which have dealt with the Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, to my knowledge, there are none which have examined the importance of naming during this period. This oversight is significant when one considers the incredible importance of personal names during this time. For example, many people are aware of the fact that Jewish residents were forced to wear a yellow star (the Star of David) on their outermost apparel to distinguish them from the Aryan population. It is also generally known, albeit much less so, that as of 1938, all Jewish citizens living within Nazi German or one of its occupied territories were also required to have either the word “Jewish” or the letter “J” stamped in their passports.
However, comparatively few people realize is that before those regulations were implemented, Nazi leaders had decreed that all Jewish women and men must add the names ‘Sara’ and ‘Israel’ respectively to their given names. Once the deportations began, the perfidious logic behind this naming (onomastic) legislation became clear: it made it that much easier to pinpoint Jewish residents on official governmental listings (e.g. housing registries, voting rosters, pay rolls, labor union registers, bank accounts, school, university, military, and hospital records, etc.). Once the Jewish residents were identified, new lists of names were drawn up for people designated for relocation to a deportation center; relocation to labour camp; or transportation to an extermination center.
By using first-hand accounts of Holocaust survivors, the direct descendants of Nazi war criminals, and chilling cases extracted from international and national archival records, this book presents a harrowing depiction of the way personal names were used during the Third Reich to systematically murder millions to achieve Hitler’s dream of a society devoid of cultural diversity. Importantly, the practice of using personal names and naming to identify victims is not an historical anomaly of World War II but is a widespread sociolinguistic practice which has been followed in modern acts of genocide as well. From Rwanda to Bosnia, Berlin to Washington, when normal governmental controls are abridged and ethical boundaries designed to protect the human rights and liberties are violated, very quickly something as simple as a person’s name can be used to determine who lives and who dies.
The Canadian Society for the Study of Names (CSSN) / Société canadienne d’onomastique (SCO) will hold their annual meeting as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Canada, May 30-31, 2020, at Western University in London, Ontario.
The theme of the 2020 Congress is “Bridging Divides,” but papers on any onomastic topic are welcome:
- 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.)
Presentations are allotted 20 minutes, with an additional 10 minutes for questions and discussion. Please submit an abstract of 150-250 words, including the title of your paper and indicate whether you would like your paper to be considered for this year’s special panel.
Please email your abstract to: <email@example.com>
DEADLINE: Proposals must be received by February 1st, 2020.
Encyclopedia of 20th-Century American Humor by Alleen and Don Nilsen (Oryx Press, 2000)
Literature for Today’s Young Adults, Eighth Edition by Alleen Nilsen and Kenneth Donelson (Pearson Publishing, 2009)
If you’re interested in receiving a free copy of either or both of the following books, please let them know which book(s) you want to receive, and include your mailing address. Email them at <Don.firstname.lastname@example.org> or <email@example.com>
You also may want to check out the web site for the International Society for Humor Studies.
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.
The first exoplanet discovered by Chinese astronomers and its host star have been named “Wangshu” and “Xihe,” which mean moon goddess and sun goddess respectively in Chinese mythology. The two names proposed by the student astronomy club of Guangzhou No. 6 Middle School were announced at the Beijing Planetarium, which is a part of the NameExoWorlds campaign organized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
Discovered by Chinese astronomers in 2008, Wangshu is about 440 light-years away from Earth in Lyra, orbiting Xihe, which is sufficiently bright to be observed through telescopes from China.
Within the framework of the IAU’s 100th anniversary commemorations in 2019, 112 countries and regions organized campaigns that stimulated the direct participation of over 780,000 people worldwide, who proposed and selected names for each exoplanet and its host star.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org , 402-557-7524, or 402-210-7458.