I usually can come up with a theory to explain copycat names and naming trends. In the early aughts, many companies chose double-O names (Qoop, Squidoo, Doostang, ooVoo) to sound like Google. All those X + Y names (Mizzen + Main, Standard & Strange, Coral & Tusk)? They evoke Ye Olde Tymes, with the modern bonus of yielding cheap domains. Lately, we’ve seen a cluster of first-name names like Oscar and Emma, the better to blunt the cutting edge of technology.
But the explanation for one mini-trend has eluded me. Perhaps you, dear readers, can help.
Glyph: A nonverbal symbol such as an arrow; a carved groove on a column or frieze; any computer-generated character. From Greek gluphe, a carving; imported into English around 1727 from French glyphe.
Glyph was in the news last week following the death of Prince, the musician who in 1993 changed his name to a symbol of his own design, partly in an act of defiance against his uncooperative record label, Warner Bros.
Prince’s “Love Symbol” combined the male and female symbols and a stylized horn.
What’s so special about “Gateway”? Not much, at first appraisal. The word appears in more than 600 trademarks, including that of a pioneering U.S. computer company founded in 1985 in Sioux City, Iowa. (That company, whose original name was Gateway 2000, used a Holstein cow as its mascot; it was bought in 2007 by Taiwan-based Acer, which also acquired Gateway.com and which now produces computers under the Gateway brand.)
“Gateway” names abound in the San Francisco Bay Area thanks to the region’s association with the Golden Gate and the bridge that spans it. There are Gateway apartments, a Gateway Bank, a Golden Gateway hotel, and a long-planned Gateway Park at the foot of (confusingly) the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge.
But the Gateway I want to praise here is Oakland-based Gateway Incubator, which is named for a different sort of gateway.
Common-sense gun laws. Common-sense conservatism. Common Sense Nation. “The courtroom of common sense.” Politics and the media have been awash in common sense lately, so I decided to investigate. My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, “Common Sense and Sensibility,” takes a close look at this commonplace expression and its meanings.
Full access to the column is restricted to subscribers. Here’s an excerpt: