American History reflected in proper names bestowed on many birds

Read the Ruth Bass’ article here.

Lewis’s Woodpecker, Deschutes National Forest, Near Fort Rock, Oregon

Dozens of birds bear the names of those credited with identifying them, like the Bonaparte’s gull honoring Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s nephew; the Cooper’s hawk, familiar to New Englanders, named for William Cooper, one of the founders of the American Museum of Natural History; the Blackburnian warbler for pre-Revolution naturalist Anna Blackburn.

But, what’s ruffling feathers in the American Ornithological Society today is a growing number of their scientists protesting the old practice of giving people names to birds. They are focusing on some of the so honored who reflect colonialism and on the fact that Indigenous peoples had met birds named for Audubon and Wilson and Cooper before those men were born.

About Names: ‘Psycho’ killer led to a major drop in popularity for Norman

American artist Norman Rockwell

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his November 8th column, he looks at the history of the name Norman.

 Norman is a Germanic name meaning “North man.” It became common as a given name in England after Danish Vikings invaded Britain in the ninth century. When the Viking-descended Normans from Normandy, France, conquered England in 1066, the name was reinforced. Families named Norman had medieval ancestors with the first name. In the 2010 census, there were 67,704 Americans with the surname Norman, ranking it 495th.

In 1880, when Social Security’s yearly baby name data begins, Norman ranked 133rd. It steadily increased, helped in the 1920s by matinee idol Norman Kerry (1894-1956), the Clark Gable of his day. Norman peaked at 37th in 1931, the year director Norman Taurog won an Oscar for “Skippy.” In 1938, Taurog directed Spencer Tracy in his Oscar-winning role as Father Flanagan in “Boys Town.”

Norman fell back to 132nd by 1960, when Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller “Psycho” featured killer Norman Bates. The next year, Sue Thompson’s hit song “Norman,” where “Norman knows my heart belongs to him and him and only him,” countered that image, but after 1965 Norman resumed its fall, leaving the top thousand in 2006.

What Is a Proper Adjective?

You may have heard of proper nouns, but have you ever heard of a proper adjective? Typically, proper adjectives take proper nouns and shift their function to fill the role of an adjective, or a word that’s modifying another noun. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what that means.

Like all adjectives, a proper adjective describes (modifies) a noun. What makes proper adjectives unique is that they are formed from proper nouns. That means they must be capitalized. Many proper adjectives are formed using the names of countries (or other specific places), religions or people’s names.

Proper nouns are, in fact, the origin of proper adjectives. Shakespeare is a proper noun, so Shakespearean is a proper adjective.

  • Shakespeare is a specific writer. It is a proper noun because it is the name of a particular person.
  • Shakespeare had a unique writing style, which is referred to as Shakespearean. Shakespearean is not a noun. It is an adjective, as it describes a type of writing.

Renaming of Red Skins and Chicos is a shaky step towards leaving discriminatory ideas in the past

Last week, it was announced two types of Allen’s lollies, Red Skins and Chicos, will be known from January 2021 as Red Ripper and Cheekies.

The Swiss-headquartered Nestle Corporation decided the original names did not express their brand values, presumably because of the racist connotations of redskins (Native Americans) and chicos (Latin Americans).

But don’t be surprised if the Nestle marketing department requests a further name change. As the Daily Mail reported, “Red Ripper” was the moniker of a notorious Soviet criminal, Andrei Chicatilo, responsible between 1978 and 1990 for the violent deaths of 52 women, some of whom he ripped apart.

Australia Post to support use of Aboriginal place names on mail

Australia Post says it will support the optional use of Aboriginal place names on mail addresses, following a large grassroots campaign.

The national mail service changed its guidelines this week to include advice on how to include traditional names. While some areas are known by their original names, many Australians often have little knowledge of place names that pre-date European settlement. Activists welcomed the endorsement of their push for greater awareness.

Aboriginal woman Rachael McPhail started the campaign on social media in August, noting Aboriginal people had lived in Australia for at least 60,000 years.

How Harvard Should Think about Renaming

A couple of weeks ago, University President Lawrence S. Bacow convened a committee to articulate “general principles” for renaming spaces, programs, and professorships that are connected to “abhorrent” activities at Harvard. At a base level, everyone is pleased that President Bacow has taken this necessary and overdue step. Yet, for now, it raises a set of compelling philosophical and procedural questions: What should they rename? And how will they know?

The starting point should be obvious. While the University has numerous stains on its long history, slavery and scientific racism remain the tip of the abhorrence iceberg — from the slave trader who helped found their law school, to Harvard’s ownership of daguerreotypes portraying enslaved individuals. Names affiliated with white supremacy and its atrocities should be the first to go. Then

How Denver got its name

Colorado’s capital is named after James W. Denver (1817-1892), a 19th-century Renaissance man who served in Congress, fought in the United States Army, and served as Governor of the Kansas Territory.

In November 1858, while Denver was still serving as territorial governor, William Larimer, Jr., a land speculator from Leavenworth, planted the townsite of “Denver City” along the South Platte River in Arapaho County in western Kansas Territory (the present-day state of Colorado). Larimer chose the name “Denver” to honor the current territorial governor with the intention that the city would be chosen as the county seat of Arapaho County. Denver retired as territorial governor in November 1858 and was reappointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs, serving until his resignation on March 31, 1859.

He only visited his namesake city twice, in 1875 and 1882, and was reportedly unhappy that the residents didn’t give him more of a hero’s welcome.

About Names: Jack’s reach has stretched from nursery rhymes to literary heroes

By Fox Fisher - https://instagram.com/p/9JSSulhigl/, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44467471

British food writer, journalist and activist Jack Monroe (Fox Fisher, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his October 25th column, he looks at the history of the name Jack.

Jack is an English nickname for John. In medieval England, “-kin” was common in nicknames, such as Wilkin and Adkin, from William and Adam. John led to Jankin, which became Jackin and then Jack. It’s possible confusion with Jacques, the French form of James, was also involved. By 1350, though, the English linked Jack to John, not James.

Around 1380, a third of Englishmen were named John. With so many Jacks, “jack” soon meant “common servant,” or any mechanical device doing servants’ work. By 1560, Jack Sprat was a skinny man. Jack and Jill have tumbled down hills since 1765. In 1660s Britain, a Jack-o’-lantern was a night watchman; in the United States, it became a candle-lit, carved Halloween pumpkin around 1834.

In 1996, Jack was back in Social Security’s top hundred. It peaked at 34th in 2005. That new popularity is exemplified by Omaha-based singing duo Jack & Jack (Gilinsky and Johnson), both born in 1996.

Then the American love of two syllable forms caused Jackson to explode to the No. 1 status it’s held since 2013. Between 2006 and 2015, Jack receded as Jackson boomed. Since 2017, as parents tire of Jackson, Jack has surged 10%. The 9,393 born last year ranked it 27th on my “combined spellings” list, beating John as an official name for the first time ever.

Holocaust Education Week lecture explores discrimination based on names

The Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University will host an event on November 3 2020 that explores how Nazis used names to fulfill Hitler’s genocidal vision.

The event runs during 2020 Holocaust Education Week and features a lectures with guest presenter Iman Nick on “Hitler’s Lists: How the Nazis Used Names to Spawn the Holocaust.” It runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Zoom.

Even before the infamous Yellow Star, the Nazis devised a simple yet effective method to pinpoint victims for wide-spread discrimination, marginalization, relocation, deportation and finally extermination. Using first-hand accounts from Holocaust survivors and documents unearthed from the once secret files of the Nazi Party, this lecture tells the story of how personal names were used to fulfill Hitler’s genocidal vision. The talk will also present modern-day examples in which something as seemingly innocuous as a person’s name has been used to carry out crimes against humanity.

Register online here to join the virtual event.