Yuccie: A Young Urban Creative, as defined and described by David Infante, “a 26-year-old writer who lives in a gentrifying neighborhood in Brooklyn,” in an article for Mashable published on June 10. Infante calls yuccies “a slice of Generation Y, borne [sic] of suburban comfort, indoctrinated with the transcendent power of education, and infected by the conviction that not only do we deserve to pursue our dreams; we should profit from them.”
“I am the yuccie,” Infante writes. “And it sounds sort of, well, yucky.”
Don’t read “How to Name a Baby” to learn how to name a baby. Read it for insights into historical baby-naming trends and to confirm your hunches (e.g., “the popular girl name Reagan is for Republicans”). Also: charts!
Given names are “one of the last social acceptable frontiers of class war.”Also: nominative determination, implicit egotism, and how the Internet has made baby naming more difficult. Part 1 of a four-part podcast series about names from Australian radio network ABC. The presenter, Tiger Webb, has an interesting name story himself. (Hat tip: Superlinguo.)
The not-so-secret jargon of doctors is full of acronyms: a flea—fucking little esoteric asshole—is an intern, an FLK is a “funny-looking kid,” and an “SFU 50 dose” is the amount of sedative it takes for 50 percent of patients to shut the fuck up.
Ever wonder what value-creating winners do all day? Here’s Business Town to enlighten you. It’s “an ongoing project attempting to explain our highly intangible, deeply disruptive, data-driven, venture-backed, gluten-free economic meritocracy to the uninitiated. With apologies to Richard Scarry.”
“The decision is made. The name won’t be changed.” – Tim Mahoney, head of marketing for Chevy, speaking to the Detroit Free Press about the Bolt electric vehicle, whose name is strikingly similar to that of the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. In fact, a Spanish speaker would pronounce the two names identically. (Hat tip: Jonathon Owen.)
The American Name Society is accepting nominationsfor Names of the Year, with the winners to be announced at the society’s annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, on January 9, 2015. Anyone can play; submit your nominations no later than January 7.
Here are my own nominations in the categories established by ANS.
Michael Brown. The unarmed 18-year-old black resident of Ferguson, Missouri, was fatally shot in August by a white Ferguson police offer, Darren Wilson. The shooting, and the grand jury’s decision in late November not to indict Wilson, set off protests in Ferguson and throughout the United States.
Mo’ne Davis. On August 15, the 13-year-old from Philadelphia was one of two girls who played in the 2014 Little League World Series and the first to pitch a shutout. The accomplishment earned Sports Illustrated’s “Sports Kid of the Year” (SKOTY) award. By the way, Mo’ne’s middle name is Ikea.
Josh Earnest. The current White House press secretary, announced by President Obama in May 2014, has a perfectly self-canceling name. Is he joshing or is he earnest?
Ferguson. Following the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown, the St. Louis suburb, population about 21,000, became a byword for racial tension and police violence. My nomination for overall Name of the Year.
Sochi. The host city of the Winter Olympic Games (February 7-23), on Russia’s Black Sea coast, became shorthand for cost overruns, corruption, and Putin-esque grandiosity. Sochi, a subtropical resort town, was the warmest Winter Games host city in history; organizers hoarded snow for two years to prepare for the Olympics.
MH370. The code name of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which disappeared on March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The subsequent search effort—the largest and most expensive in history—failed to find the crash site, flight debris, or bodies.
I’ll be posting more about brand names of 2014 in a future post. (Read about my brand names of the year for 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2009.)
Elsa. One of the two sisters in the Disney animated feature Frozen. The movie was released in late November 2013, but Elsa-mania took off in 2014, inspiring dolls, costumes, swimsuits, mouthwash, and a discussion on Quora. Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel, sings the Oscar-winning and ubiquitous song “Let It Go.”
The Wall Street Journal covered the phenomenon in November 2014, noting that “Anna was supposed to be the star. She has the most lines, songs and love interests … and ultimately saves the day”:
“Elsa is double what Anna is,” says Lesa Nelson, senior vice president for children’s merchandise at J.C. Penney Co., of the dolls and other “Frozen” merchandise depicting the sisters. “You sell two Elsas for every Anna.” …
Parents are puzzled by Elsa’s outsize influence. “Elsa doesn’t really do anything but sing this great song and, let’s be honest, she’s kind of a jerk,” says Jill Walsh, of Newton, Mass., whose 4-year-old daughter, Maeve, often dresses up as Elsa. “A lot of moms try to push for Anna- she’s the go-getter of the two.”
Starbucks has hailed the return of the beverage with big signs for “PSL.” Is the abbreviation an initialism or an acronym? Are we meant to pronounce each letter or make a word from their consecutive sounds?
As an acronym, PSL would become pissl, or even pizzle, which just sounds rude. As an initialism, on the other hand, PSL feels clinical, as if it might be a medical condition.
I’m winding up #WeedWeek—a series of posts on the marketing of legal marijuana—with a look at CannaCon, a four-day cannabis convention and expo coming to Tacoma, Washington, next week.
“Nation’s Largest Cannabis Expo.”
In 2012, Washington State voters passed Initiative 502, which legalized the possession and cultivation of marijuana in small amounts; the first legal retail sales in the state began in early July 2014. As a result, Washington has become a hub of legal-cannabis—or “cannabusiness,” as it's being called—activity. Sponsors of next week’s convention include the National Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, Dope magazine, MJBA(Marijuana Business Association, “the authoritative voice of legal marijuana in America”), and Marijuana Venture (“the news source for professional marijuana growers and producers”).
Overall, the marketing is polished, sophisticated, and even witty.
National CC of C logo, with smoking eagle and cannabis leaf rampant.
Linguistically, CannaCon follows a venerable naming convention (pun intended) for fan gatherings. The original enduring X-con was Comic-Con (aka San Diego Comic-Con International), founded in 1970 and held annually ever since; the con is shorthand for convention. (According to Francesca Coppa, author of “A Brief History of Media Fandom,” part of a collection of essays on fan communities, con for convention had already been in use since at least the early 1940s.)
In 2010, the linguist Mark A. Mandel presented a paper at the American Name Society’s annual meeting on what he dubbed “Conomastics,” a blend of the con affix and onomastics, the science of naming. Mandel focused on gatherings of speculative fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and related interests, including media, music, gaming, and furry. Among the X-cons he reported on were Gaylaxicon (“gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people and their friends”; from gay and galaxy); Smofcon (Secret Masters of Fandom Convention); MaulCon (gaming; held at a mall); Daikon (the Japanese national con, held in Osaka; dai means “big,” and a daikon is a big radish); LepreCon (Arizona science-fiction art and literature convention originally held in March on St. Patrick’s Day, more recently in April or May); SpoCon (“a full-spectrum science-fiction and fantasy convention held in Spokane, Washington”); and Millennium Philcon (the 2001 Worldcon, or World Science Fiction Convention, held at the turn of the millennium in Philadelphia; also a pun on Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s ship in Star Wars).
The online-only fashion and beauty retailer ASOSlaunched in London in 2000, began turning a profit in 2004, and first expanded outside the UK—originally to France, Germany, and the US—in 2010. Today the company has 4,000 employees and sales of £753.8 million (nearly $1.3 billion). The company sells more than 850 brands, including its own, and is the most-visited fashion website in the world, per day, among 18-to-34-year-olds.
The logo is lower case, but the company name appears in all caps everywhere else on the site. The media are less consistent: the Guardian (UK) spells it Asos; the New York Times has used both ASOSand Asos.
As for the pronunciation, opinions vary—some people use the A-S-O-S initialism, others rhyme it with “pesos”—but the consensus tilts toward “A-sauce” (rhymes with play-floss, emphasis on the first syllable).
Pronunciation diktats are irrelevant in the eyes of US trademark law. As Jessica Stone Levy noted in a comment on that Asus post, “the USPTO at least lives by the precept that ‘there is no correct pronunciation of a trademark because it is impossible to predict how the public will pronounce a particular mark’.”
WWOOFing: Doing voluntary work on an organic farm for a short period. From the organization WWOOF, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (sometimes called Willing Workers on Organic Farms).
“I have done, like, WWOOFing in the past.” – Actress Shailene Woodley, interviewed by Neda Ulaby for NPR’s “Morning Edition,” March 21, 2014 (audio).
WWOOF was founded in 1971 in the UK as “Working Weekends on Organic Farms.” The founder, a London secretary named Sue Coppard, “recognised the need for people like herself, who did not have the means or the opportunity, to access the countryside and support the organic movement,” according to the global WWOOF website. When volunteers began staying longer than a weekend, the name was changed to “Willing Workers on Organic Farms.”According to a Wikipedia entry, the word “workers” ran afoul of some countries’ labor and immigration laws. The name was changed again, in 2000, to World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. At least 63 countries on five continents host WWOOF organizations; according to the WWOOF USA website, there are 1,840 host farms in the United States. Participants are called WWOOFers and their activity is WWOOFing.
WWOOF “is a new riff on ‘volutourism’”—also spelled voluntourism—writes Steve Holt in a March 18, 2014, articlefor TakePart, the digital division of the movie production company Participant Media. Holt writes that according in the most recent farm census, U.S. farms reported taking in $566 million in income from agritourism.
WWOOF is a membership organization for farms and volunteers; registration fees range between $5 and $50. No other money changes hands; volunteers receive accommodations and meals during their farm stints.
The report did not abbreviate the title, but by early 2012 the condensed form was appearing in the writings of educators and librarians. “The gist,” wrote New York Hall of Science’s Eric Siegel in February 2012, “is that kids learn along this kind of axis or overlapping venn diagram that includes the most casual (Hanging Out), proceeds to a more active and engaged, if still very diffuse mode (Messing Around), to a more focused and productive mode (Geeking Out.)” YOUmedia (“Youth-powered 21st century learning”), in five Chicago public library branches, was funded in part by the MacArthur Foundation “as a next step in the HOMAGO campaign,” as Siegel put it.
Libraries have long facilitated the “finding” of information, [Nevada library consultant Joe Murphy] said. “Now they are facilitating the creating of information.”
That will be evident at the Boston library’s new section for teenagers. Teen Central is to become what is known as “homago” space — where teenagers can “hang out, mess around and geek out.” It will include lounges, restaurant booths, game rooms and digital labs, as well as software and equipment to record music and create comic books. The vibe will be that of an industrial loft, with exposed pipes and polished concrete floors, what [Boston Public Library president Amy] Ryan called “eco-urban chic.”
Watch a video of cultural anthropologist Mizuko (Mimi) Ito, one of the original Digital Youth Project researchers, talking about homago.
BYOD: Initialism for Bring Your Own Device, a corporate policy that encourages or requires employees to bring their own mobile devices to the workplace and to use them to access company information. Also used in educational settings. Sometimes known as BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology), BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone), and BYOPC (Bring Your Own PC), but BYOD appears to be becoming the standard usage.
According to a Wikipedia entry, “Bring Your Own Device” and “BYOD” first appeared in print in a 2004 paper by British, German, and Swiss researchers investigating “serendipitous interaction with large public displays.” Intel began using BYOD in its current workplace sense in 2009, and it gained currency in early 2011 (according, again, to Wikipedia), “when IT services provider Unisys and software vendors VMware and Citrix Systems started to share their perceptions of this emergent trend.”
Less than three years later, the initialism is well accepted enough to be used without definition by Lookout, Cisco, and other companies cashing in on the challenges posed by the BYOD workplace.
“BYO” to mean “bring your own” is a creature of the Prohibition era, according to Barry Popik, author of the language-and-history blog The Big Apple:
“BYOB” (“bring your own bottle” or “bring your own beer”) and “BYOL” (“bring your own liquor”) are initials that date back to the Prohibition period in the United States. Restaurants would not provide liquor, but diners could bring their own.
“BYOL” is cited from 1919 and “BYOB” from 1924. A 1919 “BYOL” citation references Prohibition regulations. A 1924 “BYOL” citation indicates that the term was used on ocean liners leaving New York City; under then-new rules on British ships, liquor would not be served by the ship until it was outside the twelve-mile jurisdiction of the United States, but passengers could bring their own (“BYOL”).
After Repeal in 1933, “BYOB” was recycled for use in private party invitations; the second B could stand for booze, bottle, or beer. The OED’s earliest citation for this usage is a 1959 article in the scholarly journal American Speech, which suggests it had already been circulating for some unspecified time.
“BYO” lends itself to spinoffs, as in a humor piece by F.P. Tullius (possibly a pseudonym; my research hit a wall) in the May 26, 1975, issue of the New Yorker (paywalled), in which a has-been Hollywood writer pens a note to a successful producer:
Seems like every other week I see you mentioned in Haber, at one of her Super-A parties. … As for me, marooned in this little town just north of Mendocino, the best I can make is what I call our Triple-B Group. Our parties are not just BYOB but also BYOW (Weed) and BYOBR (Brown Rice).
(“Haber” is Joyce Haber, a powerful Hollywood gossip columnist of the 1970s and 1980s; she died in 1993. “Super-A” refers to “A-list,” which has meant “the most celebrated or sought-after people” since at least 1935, when it was used in connection with debutantes.)