The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'names'


Campaigners from the Greek island of Lesbos are suing a Greek gay group to prevent them from using the word "lesbian" in their name, claiming that the use of the word "Lesbian" to refer to a sexual orientation has made things awkward for them:

In court papers, the plaintiffs allege that the Greek government is so embarrassed by the term Lesbian that it has been forced to rename the island after its capital, Mytilini.
If they succeed, they plan to take the fight across the world to claim the word "Lesbian" back. Of which, of course, they stand about as much chance as Xerox and Band-Aid have of reclaiming their trademarks from generic use, hackers have of claiming the word "hacker" back from those who break into computers, or (your favourite music genre) has of dissociating itself from (watered-down commercial variant thereof).

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The Merseyside village of Lunt is considering changing its name to Launt, because of vandals who keep altering signs in the village, changing the 'L' to a 'C'. The village (records of which date back to 1251) has never been referred to as "Launt", and some villagers are loth to change its ancient name.

Alternately, they could twin the village with the Austrian village of Fucking (whose own villagers voted in 2004 against changing its name).

england names obscenity uk vandalism 2


Naming things, it seems, remains political: Danish academics have acused Ikea of cultural imperialism, for giving Danish placenames to its cheaper products, whilst reserving Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian ones for the more prestigious items:

The researchers claim to have discovered a pattern where more expensive items, such as beds and chairs, have been named after Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian towns whereas doormats, draught excluders and runners are named after Danish places.
Mr Kjöller analysed the Ikea catalogue with a colleague at the University of Southern Denmark. He said it "symbolically portrays Denmark as the doormat of Sweden, a country with a larger economy and population".

culture denmark europe ikea imperialism names politics scandinavia sweden 0


Seen in the comments for a blog piece about the renaming of a London Underground station, this piece of trivia and/or folklore:

The name Surrey Quays was coined by civil servants as a way of embarrassing the then Minister of Transport, Cecil Parkinson. The name alludes to his deserted mistress, Sarah Keys. It would be a pity to lose this snippet of history.
I have no idea whether or not there is any truth in this, or whether it's one of those things that somebody made up because the world would be more interesting if it were true.

(via londonconnections) apocryphal folklore history london names scandal uk 2


With it being Australia Day, The Age has a raft of articles looking at Australian culture and identity, including one examining the idea of something being "un-Australian" (for the first time since the end of the Howard era):

Current generations might believe that to be un-Australian and its attendant "ism" were coined in the conservative 1990s, when the values debate raged and the then prime minister, John Howard, spearheaded a failed attempt to get the term mateship enshrined in the constitution. But its ancestry goes back much further. Etymologically, it began life as a literal recognition of things that were not Australian in character; the first recorded use, in 1855, described a part of the landscape similar to Britain.
Cultural commentator Hugh Mackay has argued that anything labelled un-Australian is, in fact, Australian: "Surely it's 'Australian' to do whatever Australians do. It's Australian to drink and drive, to get hopelessly into debt, lie to secure an advantage — whether political, commercial or personal — and engage in merciless and slanderous gossip. It's Australian to give vent to our xenophobia through outbreaks of racism, to reserve our nastiest prejudices for indigenous people, and to worship celebrity … It's Australian to do such things because it's human to do them."
And there's also a piece titled "I speak Aboriginal every day", about the surfeit of Aboriginal place names in Australia, most of their meanings all but forgotten to most of the people who use them:
Prahran turns out to be an Aboriginal word — a corruption of Birrarung (mist, or land surrounded by water). Dandenong was Tathenong (big mountain). Geelong comes from Tjalang (tongue). Moorabbin means "mother's milk". Looking up a single page in a street directory now to check a spelling (because I know these words better spoken than written), I find Kanooka, Kanowindra, Kanowna, Kantara, Kantiki, Kanu, Kanuka, Kanumbra, Kanyana … and on and on. Forty-five per cent of Victorian place names are Aboriginal.
I didn't know that Prahran was an Aboriginal word; if pressed, I would have guessed that it was taken from India, perhaps in honour of some earlier triumph of the British Empire (by analogy to the area near Flemington which is sometimes referred to as Travancore), or alternately came, badly mangled, from some indigenous British minority language.

aborigines australia culture geography miracle ingredient a names psychogeography society unaustralian 0


In Portland, Oregon, there is a campaign to get 42nd Avenue renamed to "Douglas Adams Boulevard":

It will reflect Portlanders’ commitment to the arts.

It will reflect Portlanders’ respect for the environment.

It will reflect Portlanders’ desire to provide technological access to all.

It will reflect Portlanders’ passion to further education to all people.

It will remind all Portlanders’ the most important lesson in times of uncertainty and fear…


Of course, Douglas Adams was also an outspoken atheist, a position that's still considered controversial in America (though, apparently, getting less so, with sympathetic atheists appearing on TV shows such as House). If the majority of Americans would still be unwilling to accept an atheist holding public office, would they be willing to rename a street after one?

(via /.) 42 atheism culture douglas adams names portland usa 0


A list of the 50 worst video game names of all time. All of these are names of actual games. This includes the likes of Princess Tomato in Salad Kingdom (NES, 1990), Tongue of the Fatman (PC, 1989), Sticky Balls (Gizmondo, 2005), Nuts & Milk (NES, 1984) and the inexplicably titled Irritating Stick (PlayStation, 1999).

(via /.) amusing names videogaming 0


The Discovery Channel's St. Patrick's Day edition on how stereotypically "Irish" names aren't:

Many popular male first names commonly thought of as being Irish, such as Patrick, Mick and Sean, actually originated with the English and the French-Danish-Norwegian Normans, who invaded Ireland in the 12th century and led to radical changes in the way Irish families named their children, according to a new study.
"Archetypal Irish names in Irish America, such as Patty and Mick, really are more a product of the Roman Catholic Renaissance (which occurred well after the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1167 A.D.). The clergy tried to wipe out traditional Irish names by replacing them with Biblical names."
Canonical laws in Ireland for many years prevented the baptism of children unless the chosen name was that of a saint. Girls often took on variations of the name Mary. At the same time, harsh penal laws from the 16th to the 19th century further weakened traditional Gaelic/Celtic culture.
At around the time of the invasion, popular Irish male first names included Diarmaid, Donnchadh, Cormac, Cathal, Niall, Brian, and Aodh (also spelled Áed). Female first names tended to vary more often, in part because women did not pass down the family's surname.
Apparently traditional names have been reemerging since the 19th century. (Which I can believe; whereas I have yet to meet any Irishmen named Paddy, Mick or Sean, I have met an Oisin and an Íarla.)

(via Google) culture ireland irish names 0


The South African capital, currently known as Pretoria, is being renamed to Tshwane, the name of an ancient African king, and also a word meaning something like "unity". The renaming has to do with breaking links with the old colonial white minority regime.

By the same token, perhaps when the republican debate restarts in Australia, we can expect proposals for renaming Australian cities. After all, why should cities bear the names of dead English noblemen like Viscount Sydney or Lord Melbourne (let alone areas named after imperial war heroes like Baron Collingwood)? Perhaps, if Germaine Greer's Aboriginal republic ever comes about, Sydney can be renamed to "Warrane" or similar, and other places can have similar post-colonial name changes.

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Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, those two purveyors of feelgood fare, now have a daughter, and her name is... Apple. Is there some kind of law that says that celebrities must give their children ridiculous names? Chances are, her school years will be a misery, unless her parents send her to schools exclusively for celebrity spawn. (I'm sure the Church of Scientology and other similarly charitable organisations run such schools in Hollywood, Notting Hill and other such places, so that all the Apples and Moon Units and Jets and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lilies don't get the crap bullied out of them by more conventionally-named classmates.)

celebrity names society stupidity 2


Bulgarian tries to change his name to "Manchester United". The Bulgarian authorities allowed Marin Zdrakov to change his name to Manchester Zdrakov, but apparently didn't let him change his surname to United. (via The English Manager)

Interestingly enough, Pravda (aka the Russian equivalent of either Ananova or the Weekly World News, depending on when you look at it) have now added a Portuguese translation to the English and Russian. Could this be an acknowledgement of the rising power and influence of the Portuguese blogosphere?

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Band name of the day: Knorkator. They appear to be some kind of German industrial/metal/mook outfit...

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Ever wonder how Madison (and various variant spellings) became the most popular girls' name in the US? The answer is on the $2 shelf at your video library. (via Anton Sherwood)

We're approaching the time when Madison is a little girl's name, Jennifer is a mum's name, Kate is a grandmother's name and there's no-one alive named Mary or Ethel. Though how did Mckenzie (or Makynzi or whatever) become the second most popular girls' name?

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Julie Burchill on fashions in naming:

Just think, in about 30 years there will be a generation of old biddies called Julie, Debbie, Sharon and Tracey... And old men called Wayne and Dwayne and Jason. Will their way of being old be different from the softly-spoken, stoic way today's Arthurs and Ethels do it? When we're gone, the mumbling, grumbling legions of arthritic Jades, Sades, Ryans and Finlays will take our place in the permanent dusk of the doctor's surgery, dirty-dancing feet finally immobilised by corns and bunions. That just shouldn't happen to a Kylie!
In America, Emma, Sophie and Kate are old ladies' names, while over here they immediately conjure up a hip Brit-babe, especially the latter - Kate Moss-Winslet-Beckinsale-Groombridge-Lawler. The US has its own knee-jerk hottie-handles - a 1980s pop-psychology bestseller was actually called The Jennifer Syndrome, and warned smug wives that females answering to this soft, sexy, elegant, old English name were the ones most likely to steal hubby from them. Twenty years later, little has changed...
Mary and John, once the British first-name equivalents of Smith and Jones, are rarely bestowed these days - you get the feeling that new parents now think of them as the next stage up from calling one's children One and Two...

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I have finally gotten around to the copy of Iain Banks' The Crow Road I picked up in an Oxfam in Islington last year; on page 61, I found the following quote:

`I'll tell her for you if you like,' Droid offered (there is an entire generation of Andrews with the shared nickname of Droid, post Star Wars).

That's funny; there was rather a lot of Andrews around when I went to university (one reason I became referred to primarily by my initials and Andrew here became known as "cos"), but I don't recall any of them being called Droid. And these were computer science students, of all things.

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A compedium of the stupid things people name their children, along with the parents' reasoning. Covers "unique" spellings (i.e., things like "Cydnee", "Dylon" and numerous bastardisations of "Mackenzie"), transpositions/omissions of letters ("Jayln"), random punctuation/capitalisation ("Cam'ron", "CrystalLynn") and various pseudo-African/Celtic/Sioux names. Not to mention rationales like "Brittany after the statue- Brittania", "Lorelei Jakarta (yes i know its an indonesian city but i think its exotic)", or "I think i'm going to name my son Kakinston ,, What do you think... ??". Or the people who were going to name their son Rebecca, just because they could. Or, indeed, the brain donor who was going to name their daughter Catatonia Calliope. (via Lukelog)

Reminds me of a theory I once heard that the uniqueness of names is inversely proportional to the intelligence of the parents, which was apparently supported by an ongoing survey of the births column of a local newspaper. (Presumably using some phrenological technique for determining intelligence from the photographs of the happy parents?)

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A list of 10,000 statistically grammar-average fake band names, generated for a psychology experiment. Has some good ones, like Venomous Pinks (who'd be punk), Starvation Deal (mook/nu-metal/hardcore), Bedbug Stabilizer (post-rock or IDM), Crystal Twang (country'n'Preston) and Walker Dieter (probably Kraftwerk-inspired); and who could forget Lifelike Pancake Carcass, or indeed the thought-provoking Yourself Simulators? Some of them, though, ("Hole", "Cassette", "Codeine", "Peaches") are the names of actual artists. (via bOING bOING)

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An amusing article about the history of band naming (written by a chap from Monash University, too):

After about a decade of "definite article-noun" - a period that produced much of what has become the rock canon - there were signs in the late '60s that the genre was getting stale. We can point to two developments - first, the definite article was becoming increasingly less definite about what it was specifying (The Band, The Groop, The Who); second, it was beginning to specify particularly wacky things (The Velvet Underground, The Electric Prunes). These developments are partly attributable to the interesting interface that existed at the time between English language use and widespread recreational substance use.

band names culture music names 0


I don't think that means what you think it means: Perhaps those stories about abysmal education standards in America are true; how else would one explain having named a street Anthrax Street? Apparently, the story goes, some low-ranking staffer suggested the name of his favourite heavy-metal band and the supervisor, not being into either heavy metal music or microbiology, approved it as it was "unique and different". Now the residents, having abruptly learned what 'anthrax' means, are none too pleased.

(I wonder whether they have had problems with teenage metalheads stealing their street signs; I recall hearing that the street sign for a Nirvana St. in Melbourne's inner south-east is the highest street sign in Melbourne; the local council made sure of that after replacing signs stolen by grunge fans in the early 1990s.)

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