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December 03, 2008


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"Overheard in New York" was probably referring to a bum, not a hobo. According to my father, who grew up during Depression 1.0, the following definitions apply:

hobo: migrant worker
tramp: migrant non-worker
bum: non-migrant non-worker

@Janet: Overheard in New York is nothing if not arch, hip, and sarcastic. It uses "hobo" where many urbanites would use "homeless person." It uses "bum" as well, apparently to signal another shade of meaning. OINY also likes "thug," "thugette," "ghetto guy," "suit," "geezer," and the general-purpose "crazy guy." A tremendous lexical resource: www.overheardinnewyork.com

Your favorite (I hope) trademark lawyer, just poking my head in and taking the opportunity to clarify a general misunderstanding of how trademark rights are acquired. Dry Ice did not "receive" its trademark in 1925 (and didn't "trademark" it, either); the company REGISTERED its trademark. One acquires rights in a trademark by adopting it and using it. Registration adds US government recognition and benefits to one's exercise of the trademark rights one has already acquired through established use of the mark. One LOSES trademark rights (as the Dry Ice company did) by either failing to use the mark AS a trademark or by failing to control its use by others, so that it ceases to identify the product as coming from one specific source. I hope this is helpful!

Oh, @Bob, what would I do without you? Believe it or not, I tied myself in knots over how to express that concept. I don't actually know whether the company REGISTERED its trademark in 1925; it might have filled out the paperwork in 1924, you know? Then I thought I'd say "received trademark protection for," but that just sounded stuffy.

Anyway, I do appreciate the tutorial. And I do understand the basic principles. Sorta.

The interesting thing about the Icelandic system for, um, handles is that their North-Germanic cousins had to give up this self-referential/circular system. The Swedes, for example, at some point started allowing or assigning surnames based on (e.g.) geographical directions or features. Turns out that you can have only so many Olaf Olsons and Carl Carlsons before identification becomes hopelessly chaotic. Of course, the Icelandic population as a whole would fit comfortably into a medium-sized US city, so things are not yet out of hand. And are unlikely to become so, one might venture. Still.

Here in the US we still enjoy plenty of traces of other patronymically based systems (O'Name, MacName, Fitzname, Nameson/Namesen). Just as well we don't enforce any such. Too bad, tho, we don't enforce conventions for _first_ names, given the wackiness that obtains in that particular area of name-enclature.

Hobo is my new buzzword

"Read all about It!" 12/03/08 at 3:14pm. Nancy Friedman charmingly and graciously accepted a correction from a cringing comment poster !

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