Happy solstice, and a few self-serving announcements:
1. You can now follow me on Instagram, where I post an average of one image a day—never a selfie, and never a “Story,” an Instagram feature I find annoying.
2. Over on Medium, I published “The Sound of a Name,” about the effects and uses of sound symbolism in naming.
3. I’m quoted in Heather Schwedel’s story, for Slate, about why Postmates shouldn’t use “Postmate It” as its slogan.
And some other-serving links:
Voice.com recently changed hands for $30 million, making it the most expensive publicly announced domain sale in history. (Relax; you can still buy a domain for a lot less.) (Domain Name Wire)
There’s no there there.
“Don’t be afraid of Q&A” and other communication lessons from South Bend, Indiana, mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. (Enterprise Irregulars)
“Early Americans distilled vivid metaphors from everyday life,” writes Rosemarie Ostler on HistoryNet. “They blazed trails. They played possum. They found themselves sitting on the fence. They barked up the wrong tree. They improvised outlandish fabrications like scrumptious and blusteration.” And they gave names to the flora and fauna they encountered, from dogwood to mule deer. (Via Language Hat)
Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), via National Wildlife Federation
Alexa the digital lackey is pushing Alexa the baby name into unpopularity, writes Laura Wattenberg at Namerology. Interesting footnote: Alexa was a web-traffic-tracking company in the 1990s that was acquired by Amazon in 1999. “When the time came to name their virtual assistant, they had in hand a simple, stylish, bold girl’s name for which trademark competition had been minimized for decades. Why look further?”
“We no longer put the circumflex on rôle or hôtel. We often implement accents incompletely, rendering carménère (a type of red wine grape) as carmenère, Ångström (a very small unit of measurement) as Ångstrom, and résumé as resumé. And sometimes we add them where they didn't even exist in the source: latté, for instance, from Italian latte, which has no need of the accent because in Italian you always say the e; maté and animé likewise add an accent as acupuncture to rouse a final e that we might otherwise treat as silent, though the source languages had no such need.” (James Harbeck on accented English, for The Week.)
Why Trump uses mock Spanish words like loco and hombres.(Ben Zimmer for The Atlantic)
After 9/11, Clear Channel Communications, the largest owner of radio stations in the U.S. (since renamed IHeartMedia, circulated a list of “lyrically questionable” songs “that, in their titles or lyrics, vaguely refer to open subjects intertwined with the September 11 attacks like airplanes, crashes, violence and death, as well as the sky, falling and weapons. Louis Armstrong's ‘What a Wonderful World’ was infamously included because of Clear Channel’s belief that happy music was inappropriate for broadcast following the attacks. Also on the list, reproduced in its entirety in a Wikipedia entry: the Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian,” the Beastie Boys’ “Sure Shot,” and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” (Via FreeDarko)