Storm Names

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Feb 11 17:57:40 UTC 2013

More here:

Our suspicions are correct about their desire to avoid trademarked
names but still work on associations with fantasy/sci-fi genres.

On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 12:50 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> Well!  I didn't know anyone made lists of Winter Storm
> Names.  Although it seems to be very unofficial, and a bit self-promoting.
> At 2/11/2013 11:22 AM, Baker, John wrote:
>>         The storm names in several instances appear to be playing
>> on associations of public domain names with others' intellectual property.
> Perhaps in all instances?
>>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, how could you forget Yogi?   Both baseball player and
> bear.  (I was going to mention Walda, but I don't think he's
> sufficiently lost yet to have become transgendered.)
> [In passing, I note that although there are a few (3?) females in
> TWC's list, they do not alternate as in the hurricane list.]
> There are surely many popular culture names corresponding to TWC's
> choices of Roman, Norse, and Greek gods and persons.  Such as:
> Brutus:  Alternative name for Bluto, Popeye's Nemesis (who would have
> been a better N storm choice than Nemo).  Or if "Bluto's not
> acceptable, a character in The Hunger Games.
> Freyr: A fertility [The Weather Channel doesn't tell us that!] god in
> Norse mythology.  Also "a fictional character in Stargate SG-1, based
> on this god."
> Others noted:
> Q: The Broadway Express subway line in New York City.  "Q (Star
> Trek), a fictional, purportedly omnipotent character from the Q
> Continuum."  [Here TWC seems especially disingenuous.]
> Ukko -- isn't he the mucky younger brother of Orko?
> Joel
>>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.

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