Nominations for Name of the Year

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 5 13:32:43 UTC 2011

That's "Eyjafjallajökull."

And "phenomenon."


On Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 7:48 AM, Cleve Evans <cleveland.evans at>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Cleve Evans <cleveland.evans at BELLEVUE.EDU>
> Subject:      Nominations for Name of the Year
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Dear ADS Listserv,
> Here are the nominations for Names of the Year that will be voted on by the
> American Name Society in Pittsburgh:
> Nominations for Names of the Year 2010
> Fictional Names:
> Mother Slaughter (character from Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book).  The
> nominator says: Mother Slaughter was dead and her headstone was so worn that
> the name “SLAUGHTER” became “LAUGH.”  This name is ironic at a number of
> different levels. Here is a quote from The Graveyard Book :
> •          Mother Slaughter was “a tiny old thing, in the huge bonnet and
> cape that she had worn in life and been buried wearing” (22).
> •          “So Bod picked the red and yellow nasturtiums, and he carried
> them over to Mother Slaughter’s Headstone, so cracked and worn and weathered
> that all it said now was…
> •          LAUGH” (297).
> Quinn (Fabray) and Finn (Hudson): High school student characters on the
> popular television series “Glee”. They are notable as names because of the
> “cute” factor of having a dating couple with rhyming first names (and this
> fits psychological research showing people are more likely to be attracted
> to those with similar names.) These are also names which have been
> increasing as baby names. Finn, especially, is much more common for infants
> than high-schoolers. Quinn is notable as a formerly male name which has
> turned mostly female, and it has shown a recent sharp increase in use as an
> example of the “Hollywood feedback loop” effect.
> Personal Names:
> Bristol: The nominator says:  “As a given name, Bristol was unknown until
> the daughter of then-vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was thrust into
> the spotlight as an unwed teenage mother in 2008. Despite what many
> perceived as a negative reason for her fame, the American public was
> apparently able to overlook it, as the name jumped to a rank of 666 on the
> girls' Social Security list in 2009 from zero the year before.
> Bristol Palin's move from the political stage in 2008 to the pop-cultural
> one in 2009, as she made public appearances and filmed television
> commercials advocating sexual abstinence, probably contributed to the rise
> in popularity of her first name. Even though she made front-page news
> because of a pregnancy, it is hard to imagine her name developing any sort
> of staying power had she not chosen to work in media and advocacy afterward.
> (I can only imagine that her much greater fame as a contestant on "Dancing
> With the Stars" will push the name Bristol even higher on the 2010 chart.)
> This is an example of a specific regional place name, used by a single set
> of parents familiar with that place, gaining widespread usage among parents
> who in all likelihood have no idea what or where Bristol Bay is.
> I find the rise in the name Bristol remarkable because it doesn't fit the
> traits of many popular female baby names today. It does not evoke
> traditional femininity like Ava, Emma, Emily and Madelyn do. It is not a
> typical surname like Madison or Taylor. It has no biblical origin as Hannah,
> Abigail and Sarah do. Most popular girls' names today end in a vowel or the
> letter "n"; this ends in "l." In other words, it does not fit into the
> common category of a name aligned with the public's current taste that
> simply needed a celebrity boost to vaunt it to trendiness. In this way, it
> stands out. The one connection with a trend I can come up with is that it
> rhymes with a name popular in the last generation, the one that is naming
> its own babies now: Crystal.
> Buster Posey:  The nominator says: “catcher for the World Series-winning
> San Francisco Giants. I just love the way his name combines butch and femme
> … kinda like San Francisco itself.”
> The Situation and Snooki:  nicknames of the “stars” of the “reality” TV
> show Jersey Shore. Some commentators believe these unusual names are part of
> the reason for this show’s success.
> Paul the Octopus (2008?-2010): the score-predicting cephalopod. Also known
> as Pupo Paul.
> Lady Gaga: Stage name of the popular singer whose given name is Stefani
> Germanotta. As with The Situation and Snooki, the very oddity and
> memorability of the stage name has contributed to her success.
> Place Names:
> Eyafjallajökul: the Icelandic volcano whose name no one could pronounce or
> spell, but which caused havoc throughout Europe in April and May. In the USA
> there was almost as much commentary about the name itself as the disruption
> the volcano caused in Europe.
> Cité Soleil: the Haitian slum that became a metaphor for Haiti’s lamentable
> post-“seism” recovery and, later, for the cholera epidemic.
> Copiapó: the town adjacent to the Chilean mine where 33 men were trapped
> for more than six weeks.
> Deepwater Horizon: (2 nominators) Name of the offshore oil drilling rig
> which exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico during April 2010, causing one
> of the worst oil spill disasters in history.
> Trade Names:
> WikiLeaks: (4 nominators): One nominator says: “Launched in 2006 but became
> famous/notorious in 2010 for its publication of Iraq war logs and diplomatic
> cablegrams. The name is interesting, because the site is not a true wiki
> (collaborative, user-editable website). Instead, “wiki” here is closer to
> the original Hawaiian meaning of “fast.”
> Another nominator says:  “The second-most-famous Web site to begin with
> "Wiki," the distributor of thousands of purloined documents from government
> and industry, and the group behind a renewed debate on secrecy, freedom of
> speech, the Internet, and national security”
> Tea Party: (3 nominators). One nominator says: “for being one of the
> most-talked-about political phenomena in the United States during 2010. “
> Another nominator says: “This is interesting as a name because of its
> historical associations which have helped to energize the movement, as well
> as for the controversy over the term “teabagging”.
> BP:  The nominator says “Do I really need to explain?” See Deepwater
> Horizon above.
> Old Spice: The nominator says “the 75-year-old men’s-toiletries brand that
> enjoyed a spectacular revival this year thanks to a series of cleverly
> crafted TV/online ads. “
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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