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Of Interest:

Color Us Impressed

We were delighted to see the New York Times address the topic of names and naming in today’s paper, with specific reference to the changing style of color names in the paint industry. It seems that more companies are taking the opportunity to let the name tell a story or describe an experience, rather than being merely descriptive.

As paint names and colors are apparently never retired, and as there are only so many ways to say ’green,’ we’re not surprised to hear about the marketers looking to leverage the name to help themselves stand out in the increasingly crowded marketplace. We think the name is the single most overlooked opportunity to leverage one’s marketing dollar.
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Feathery Names

We note an essay in the forthcoming New York Times Book Review discussing the tradition of authors using a ‘nom de plume,’ the reasons they may do so, and the interesting complications that may ensue.

These days, with anonymity quickly being relegated to the pre-web days, the essay points out that multiple online personas are hardly a rarity, but are most often used to bolster or attack someone’s reputation. Very different from the much older and once more commonly held view that pseudonyms exist primarily for 1) women writing as men; 2) writers with a secret to hide; or 3) otherwise well-regarded individuals “slumming it” in genre writing.
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Imbalanced Humours?

We tend to think of all things medical as being rather serious and humorless, but this article rounds up several instances of potentially problematic names for medical conditions requiring a doctor’s care.

The name of the article speaks for itself:

Ten Serious Medical Problems With Cutesy Names

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Brand Iniquity

According to an article in today’s Guardian, even Osama bin Laden had a sense of the importance of names and naming. Apparently aware of al Qaeda’s decline in popular perception and reputation within the worldwide Muslim community - a result of his killing of countless innocent Muslims - he had been seriously contemplating a name change and rebranding of the organization prior to his inglorious demise.

The article contains some interesting commentary on the unclear origin and meaning of the al Qaeda name itself.
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First Impressions Last

Well, this is bound to give rise to argument...

A
recent study shows an apparent link between academic success and a child’s first name. While naming traditions vary across cultures and socioeconomic strata, the study seem to show that certain names saddle the bearer with preconceptions that have a negative impact on classroom grades, which in turn limits further opportunities as the child grows. More simply put: some names give the impression that the bearers are more stupid than they may actually be, and people will treat the bearer accordingly.
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Yogi, Magic, and Big Baby

A clever article that brought to light a trend we had not noticed: nicknames in sports have become far less popular in recent years, and some ascribe that trend to the forces of marketing - the players have become their own brands. See “Be Like Mike” for an example. Another suggestion: the personal names of the players have become far more varied than they had been back in the day. There was a practical reason for being able to tell one Joe, Mark or John from another, whereas these days, there aren’t too many LeBrons, Tikis, or Hidekis on the field at the same time...

Cocktail fact 1: the word ‘nickname’ was once actually an ‘ic nama’ - “a name I call myself”... Like ‘apron’ [once “a napron”] and orange [once “a norange” - see Spanish “naranja”], it picked up a change along the way.

Cocktail fact 2: George Herman Ruth wasn’t called “Babe” until he signed with the Orioles, who already had a George in the line-up.
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Hello Wor(l)d

After many years of talking about it, we’re getting down to business and arriving fashionably late to Web2.0.

We see this forum as an opportunity to let folks know what goes on in the minds of the word-oriented people who work here, what news captures our attention, how we see language in action in all parts of the world, what we think about new product names, or names and language in the news.

A regular reader will find plenty of cocktail facts, advances in linguistics and language research, monkeys in the news, and discussion of things we find interesting. Check back regularly for the latest word, or for a bit of knowledge to make any day a day where you have learned something new.
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