Storm Names (Was RE: OT: Saturday 11:30 AM - 26 inches)

Mon Feb 11 16:22:20 UTC 2013

        The storm names in several instances appear to be playing on associations of public domain names with others' intellectual property.  In addition to Gandolf and Nemo, consider the following:

Draco: The first legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece.  But better known to modern Americans as the first name of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter books.

Khan: Mongolian conqueror and emperor of the Mongol empire.  Better known in some quarters as a Star Trek character.

Rocky: A single mountain in the Rockies.  But, to many people, more suggestive of Rocky Balboa.

        And I believe that there are other examples; this is by no means a complete list.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Ben Zimmer
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2013 10:47 AM
Subject: Re: OT: Saturday 11:30 AM - 26 inches

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 6:54 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> So what -- and when, and why -- were A--- through M---??  (The 2012
> *hurricanes* were not Nemo and Orko, but Nadine and Oscar.  And the
> list ended at Tony, so U--- and V--- are available if we were to
> continue that line.)

A moment's Googling reveals's full lineup, along with
glosses for the names:

Some interesting choices, such as "Gandolf" (not "Gandalf") for "G" --
glossed as "A character in a 1896 fantasy novel in a pseudo-medieval
countryside." Turns out that's _The Well at the World's End_ by
William Morris, one of Tolkien's inspirations. Perhaps they were
avoiding having to deal with the Tolkien estate by going with the
public-domain spelling.


Ben Zimmer

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