name magic

Margaret Lee mlee303 at YAHOO.COM
Fri May 6 08:31:34 UTC 2011

I did not  see the Wolf Blitzer segment. Was the young woman African American or 
of African origin? Name magic has a very significant history in the West African 
world view, especially when it comes to naming children, and the idea of causing 
harm to one by mentioning one's real name (as opposed to an alternate or 
nickname, sometimes referred to as a basket name).

--Margaret  Lee  

From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Thu, May 5, 2011 11:47:56 AM
Subject: name magic

Wolf Blitzer on CNN was talking to a well-spoken and clearly sophisticated
young woman who lost her husband in the 9/11 attack.  She kept referring,
sometimes confusingly, to "him" and "that person." It became clear that she
meant Bin Laden.  Blitzer asked very deferentially why she referred to Bin
Laden that way (he went so far as to say that out of respect, he would not
utter the name of "the individual responsible" either.

She explained, essentially, that to utter the name would be "to give more
power to evil." Apparently she has never uttered it.

Some minutes later, Blitzer reported that there were a number of people at
Ground Zero who wouldn't utter the name (which he said again, "out of
respect," he wouldn't utter either).

I suppose he'll resume uttering it shortly. However, I was impressed by the
survival of the idea of name magic in downtown Manhattan.


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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