The 2019 Deadspin Name of the Year is down to the Elite Eight. Vote for your favorites in a field that includes Pope Thrower, Pretzel Monteclaro, and Jizyah Shorts. Yes, they’re all real names. (Deadspin) For background, see my 2018 Visual Thesaurus column about the tournament.
How great writing begins: an analysis of the opening paragraphs of “the 94 most compelling articles” in The Atlantic, Fast Company, and the New York Times op-ed section. (Better Humans)
In English, it’s “Once upon a time.” How do other cultures and languages begin their classic tales? (Chitra Soundar)
Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana—the youngest and gayest candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination (so far)—also has the coolest campaign logos. (Note: Not a political endorsement.) (Brand New)
A couple of years ago I published a post about naming objectives: what a name should or must communicate. Naming objectives are a key element of your written naming brief, and one of the foundations on which names are developed.
There’s another important foundation: naming criteria.* If objectives are about meaning, criteria are about everything else that goes into a name: spelling, sound, legal requirements, web addresses.
It’s been six years since Ben Yagoda first noticed a spike in the U.S. usage of backbencher, a term with a specific meaning in British parliamentary politics – MPs who hold no ministerial or shadow-ministerial offices and therefore are consigned to the back benches of their respective houses – and none in U.S. government, where representatives and senators sit wherever they please on their party-defined sides of the aisle. In December 2015, Ben’s UK counterpart, Lynne Murphy, anointed backbencherthe UK-to-US import of the year; one of the nominators said she’d noticed that backbencher was being used in print (and some TV) “to refer to the members of a certain congressional caucus who were first elected in the elections of 2010/2012/2014, and so at this point can't all be referred to as ‘freshmen’, the usual term for first termers.”
Backbenches in Canada’s Parliament, via the very lively Parli, the Dictionary of Canadian Politics. which includes the category “Scandals, Crises, and Bon Mots”
Polldaddy is dead; long live Crowdsignal, its successor in the platform-agnostic poll- and survey-creation business. The service, which is owned by Wordpress, was silent on the reason for the recent name change, leaving us to wonder: Was daddy too patriarchal? Was the name likely to be confused with the unrelated GoDaddy*, the internet-domain registrar?
As long as we’re asking questions, what accounts for the plethora of DADDY brand names? There are 757 DADDY registrations in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database, from FROG DADDY (“men’s and women’s wearing apparel”) and CAT DADDY (“beds for household pets”) to THE SOUP DADDY (“soups, stews”), THE CANDLE DADDY (“candles”), TACO DADDY (“catering”), UNDERWEAR DADDY (“socks”), CHOCOLATE DADDY (“sunglasses”), WOLF DADDY (“reality-based television program”), and ICE DADDY (“electric air deodorizers for refrigerators”). Nearly a third of the registrations have been filed in the last two years. What accounts for the trend?
Mountain Dew, the neon-yellow-green soft drink brand owned by PepsiCo, evidently failed to consult anyone in Scotland before it introduced its new ad slogan, “Epic thrills start with a chug.” If it had, it would have learned that chug is Scottish slang for masturbate. (Jelisa Castrodale for Vice, via Language Log)
That word: It does not mean what you think it means. Not in Scotland, anyway. (Via @jaysebro)
Caterpillar, the heavy-equipment manufacturer, has had a registered trademark for CAT since 1949. Now it’s extending CAT to a footwear line. And not just steel-toed boots, either: these oxfords are women’s street fashion. (Duets Blog)
The method Google Maps uses to name city neighborhoods “is often mysterious. The company declined to detail how some place names came about, though some appear to have resulted from mistakes by researchers, rebrandings by real estate agents — or just outright fiction.” (New York Times)
The Oscar-nominated 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has inspired at least two real-world imitations, reports AdWeek. After the shooting massacre in a Parkland, Florida, high school, the group Progressive Turnout Project placed a billboard with a gun-reform challenge outside the Janesville, Wisconsin, office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has accepted $61,401 in contributions from the National Rifle Association.
“17 killed in their classrooms. Still no gun reform? How come, Paul Ryan?”
And in London, Justice4Grenfell placed three mobile billboards outside Grenfell Towers, the site of disastrous fire last year that killed 71 people.
“71 dead / and still no arrests? / How come?”
For comparison, here are the billboards that appear in the film, which stars Frances McDormand.