My new column for the Visual Thesaurus is a year-end look at some significant brand names of 2013. As I say in my introduction, it isn’t a list of the biggest or more famous companies; rather, it’s my subjective catalog of names that were “newly prominent or notable” (per the American Dialect Society’s criteria for words of the year), showed linguistic significance (or “interestingness”), and represented naming trends or breakthroughs.
Access to the full column is restricted to subscribers (subscribe! an excellent gift!). Here’s one of the 10 names on my list:
Redskins. Football’s Washington Redskins have had that name since 1937 – before that, the team was the Boston Redskins – but in 2013 there was renewed pressure to change what many Native Americans and others see as an offensive term. In a 29-page report issued in October, the National Council of American Indians spelled the name with an asterisk (“Redsk*ns”) and decried the team’s “ugly” legacy of racism. Ten members of the U.S. Congress, 60 clergy members, and President Obama called for a name change, and several newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, stopped printing the Redskins name in stories about the team. On the other hand, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — not exactly free of controversy himself this year — also weighed in, saying a name change would be “ridiculous.”
Read the rest of the column. And watch this space in the next couple of weeks for more names and words of the year.