About Names: It’s not the popular name it used to be, but Rita is the patron saint of lost causes

Rita Moreno, actor

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 28th column, he looks at the history of the name Rita.

Rita is a short form of Margherita or Margarita, Italian and Spanish forms of Margaret, from Greek margarites (pearl). The fame of legendary St. Margaret of Antioch, swallowed by a dragon that burst open because of her holiness, made her name common across medieval Europe.

Rita became a name in its own right through St. Rita of Cascia (1381-1457). Born Margherita Lotti, Rita was married against her will at age 12 to wealthy but violently abusive Paolo Mancini. Over 18 years, her patience and prayers reformed him. After Paolo was stabbed to death in a vendetta, Rita’s example of forgiveness ended the feud. She entered a convent at Cascia, legendarily levitated into its courtyard by her patron saints.

Rita ranked between 52nd and 60th all through the 1940s. As Rita Hayworth’s reign as “Love Goddess” waned, the name began its inevitable retreat, finally leaving the top 1,000 in 2003. Novelist Rita Mae Brown (1944), recording artist Rita Coolidge (1945) and comedian Rita Rudner (1953) are famous Ritas born during Hayward’s heyday. Actress and film producer Rita Wilson (1956) is newsworthy now, as she and husband Tom Hanks were among the first celebrities to announce that they had tested positive for COVID-19.

Rita Moreno, now 88, won a best supporting actress Oscar in 1961 for “West Side Story.” She went on to win a Grammy, a Tony and two Emmys, one of only 12 artists to win all four.

11 million names to be sent to Mars on NASA’s Perseverance rover

When it heads to the red planet later this year, NASA’s Perseverance rover won’t just be carrying scientific instruments — it will also carry the names of millions of space fans.

Last year, NASA launched its “Send Your Name to Mars” campaign in which members of the public were invited to submit their names to stenciled onto the rover. A tremendous 10.9 million people submitted their names, which have now been engraved onto silicon chips in a minuscule format using an electron beam. These chips, engraved with both names and winning essays from the “Name the Rover” contest, have now been attached to an aluminum plate on the rover which will launch on its journey to Mars later this year.

Toponymy Project Coordinator is sought

The British Columbia Geographical Names Office, operating within the Heritage Branch, is responsible for the management and administration of place naming in British Columbia. The Heritage Branch encourages and facilitates the recognition and safeguarding of BC’s cultural heritage through the development and implementation of tangible and intangible heritage policies and programs.

The Heritage Branch currently manages programs related to heritage capacity building, geographical names, historic places recognition, fossil management and the stewardship of physical heritage resources.

JOB REQUIREMENTS:

Education
Post-secondary education or training in project management, linguistics, geography or related field.

  • Preference may be given to candidates with a degree in cultural geography, Indigenous Studies, GIS, historical cartography, British Columbia history, library sciences, or anthropology.
  • Preference may be given to candidates with culturally-grounded education, training, or experiences within an Indigenous community or organization.

Experience

  • Working with Indigenous governments and communities.
  • Providing project management and coordination services for assigned projects.
  • Proficient with technology and software such as all Microsoft Office tools.
  • Experience communicating across diverse cultures.
  • Conducting historical research and developing reference materials.
  • Demonstrated experience with GIS [Oracle, ESRI], web mapping applications, Adobe Creative Suite [Acrobat, Photoshop], Corel Draw, Audacity, or similar applications.

Location: Victoria, BC V9B6X2 CA (Primary)

Salary Range: $54,933.89 – $62,318.99 annually [as of April 12, 2020]

Close Date: 4/9/2020

About Names: ‘Peter Pan’ gave Wendy wings, but the name has fallen back down to earth

Guitarist Wendy Melvoin

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 29th column, he looks at the history of the name Wendy.

“Peter Pan” began as a 1904 play by Scottish author J.M. Barrie (1860-1937). He named Wendy in honor of Margaret Henley (1888-1894). Daughter of poet William Ernest Henley, Margaret died of meningitis at age 5. She called Barrie “Fwendy-wendy,” inspiring Wendy Darling’s name. Many names (including Vanessa, Pamela and Dorian) are author creations, and “friend” is a great meaning. Still, many commentators seem embarrassed by Wendy’s baby-talk origin and insist it’s a form of Gwendoline. There really isn’t good evidence that Wendy was used as a pet form of Gwendoline before Barrie’s play.

Wendy is an English place name and surname. Wendy is a hamlet in Cambridgeshire, meaning “island at a river bend” in Old English.

Today’s most famous Wendy is probably “Wendy” Thomas (born 1961), whose father, Dave, named his hamburger chain Wendy’s after her in 1969. Befitting a name created from baby talk, Wendy is a nickname from her childhood mispronunciation of Melinda.

Shall we rename Spanish Flu ‘1918 Influenza Pandemic’?

President Trump has recently taken to referring to the coronavirus outbreak, also known as Covid-19, as the “Chinese Virus,” and has been accused of racism and xenophobia for doing so.

A common response is to point out that the Spanish Flu is the most common name for the flu outbreak that took place after the end of the First World War – so, of course, this is being retconned.

On the Talk page for the “Spanish Flu” Wikipedia article, there is a raging debate going on as to whether to rename the page to the “1918 Influenza Pandemic.” Some commentors claimed that the name “Spanish Flu” is racist, just as “Chinese Flu” is racist, with others swearing that they definitely hadn’t referred to the pandemic as the “Spanish Flu” before.

The Army doesn’t plan on renaming 10 installations named for Confederate leaders

In the wake of news that the Marine Corps is banning Confederate paraphernalia from its installations, the Army says it does not plan to rename its bases and facilities that were long ago named after Confederate leaders.

The Confederate history of several Army installations was brought back into the news following the publication of a new order from Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger which directed any and all Confederate-related paraphernalia be removed from Corps installations.

As military historian Army Maj. Mark Herbert wrote in 2017, the first wave of new installations named after Confederate leaders emerged after the U.S. entered World War I. Those bases were originally named after “war heroes or prominent figures in American history,” Herbert wrote, but in several instances the naming decisions “were left up to local commanders.”

Call for Papers: ANS 2021, San Francisco, CA, January 7-10, 2021

The American Name Society (ANS) is now inviting proposals for papers for its next annual conference. The 2021 conference will be held in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America. Abstracts in any area of onomastic research are welcome. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is June 30, 2020. To submit a proposal, simply complete the 2021 Author Information Form.

Please email this completed form to ANS Vice President Laurel Sutton using the following address: <laurelasutton@gmail.com>. For organizational purposes, please be sure to include the phrase “ANS 2021” in the subject line of your email.  Presenters who may need additional time to secure international funding and/or travel visas to the United States are urged to submit their proposal as soon as possible.

IMPORTANT: Because of the current global COVID-19 pandemic, it is unclear whether the conference will proceed as planned. If the LSA decides against an in-person meeting, we will consider online alternatives so that scholars may still present their important research. We will provide updates on the conference status at the ANS website and through email.

All proposals will be subjected to blind review. Official notification of proposal acceptances will be sent on or before August 30, 2020. All authors whose papers have been accepted must be current members of the ANS and need to register with both the ANS and the Linguistic Society of America. Please feel free to contact ANS Vice President Laurel Sutton should you have any questions or concerns.

A downloadable PDF of the Call for Papers can be found here.

We look forward to receiving your submission!

About Names: Albert means ‘bright,’ and Einstein wasn’t the only one to live up to his name

Scientist Albert Einstein

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 14th column, he looks at the history of the name Albert.

Albert is an ancient Germanic name combining “adal” (noble) and “beraht” (bright). Albert was a French form brought to England by Norman conquerors in 1066. It replaced Old English Æelbriht, source of the surname Albright.

The first famous Albert was St. Albert the Great (1193-1280), who resigned as Bishop of Regensburg in 1262 to devote his life to scholarship. Albert wrote works on astronomy, chemistry, physiology and other subjects. One of the first since ancient times to record careful observations of nature, he’s patron saint of natural scientists. By 1400, Albert was very rare in England. It’s often assumed that it only revived when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840.

So Albert was in use on both sides of the Atlantic before 1840. There’s no denying, though, that Prince Albert’s fame skyrocketed it. In 1850, Albert was No. 20 in England. In 1880, when Social Security’s baby name data begins, it ranked No. 15 in the U.S. Alberts in entertainment include film producer Broccoli (1909-96), Blue Oyster Cult drummer Bouchard (1947) and actor Molina (1953). Comedian Albert Brooks was born Albert Lawrence Einstein in 1947. If he used his real name, people would think it a bad joke.

Official Statement on ANS 2021 Conference

American Name SocietyAs you probably know, our annual conference is held in conjunction with that of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA). While there has been no official statement from the LSA about the next annual conference, we are monitoring the latest guidance about COVID-19 and are developing contingency plans for the ANS 2021 should it need to be postponed or cancelled. We hope, of course, that we will be able to convene next January. However, our top priority is the safety and welfare of our members and guests. We will continue to keep you informed as we move forward with our preparations for ANS 2021. Please look for the official Call for Papers later this week!