Tag Archives: naming

Naming Maisie

I said I’d post about the process of naming our puppy once we’d settled on a name. (Sometimes I love naming things, but often it’s very difficult for me.)

I guess I’ll start at the end — using her name will make writing this post so much easier and I’ve already declared her name on Twitter.

Our new puppy’s name is Maisie.

Maisie is short for or derived from Margaret — it’s of English origin, which I thought was appropriate since our pup’s an Old English Sheepdog. Apparently Henry James wrote a novel called What Maisie Knew. For me, though, the literary tie-in is to Maisie Dobbs, the eponymous investigator of Jacqueline Winspear’s series.

Other names we considered

(bolding the most serious contenders)
Princess Buttercup (Surely you get this Princess Bride reference? We’d have shortened it to Buttercup, *not* Princess.)
• Salma (as recommended by BabyNameGenie
• Darcy (after Mr. Darcy, of course)
Miányáng (means sheep in Mandarin, as far as I can tell)
Miányáng Gou (and this is sheep dog)
• Colinette
• I tried to come up with feminine versions of Bennet (as in Elizabeth) and Beckett (as in Samuel), but to no avail.

Maisie was a name that came to me quickly, and there were lots of reasons I liked it. I almost decided against it, though, when I learned of another dog in town with the same name. No other name really stuck, though. And I realized the chances our Maisie will hang out with that pooch are pretty slim, so we decided to go with Maisie.

Maisie’s been with us 1.5 weeks (It didn’t take that long for us to name her, it just took that long to find time to blog!); she’s 15 weeks old today. She’s very hard to photograph, because she’s never still — unless she’s napping.


That’s short for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

What is this gobbledygook, you ask? One very long word, for starters. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is a village in Wales; the name is shortened to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll and commonly known as Llanfair PG or Llanfairpwll.

Wow, long name, Batman!

I am not making this up.

Llanfair station sign, photo by cyberinsekt

Llanfair station sign, photo by cyberinsekt

I started giggling while trying to pronounce it, from the English orthography guide: Llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooll-llandus-ilio-gogo-goch. My tongue was tripped up a few times.

The name is Welsh for “St. Mary’s church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St. Tysilio of the red cave”.

I love new words! I love language.

Listen to the name of the town, as spoken by a person with a South Wales accent.

Satellite maps of the village.

Photos taken in the village.

OK, you can start making fun of me for enjoying this now.

Chinese (and Japanese) translation guide

Ooh, cool! Firefox (versions 2-3) extensions that will translate, with a scroll-over, words inChinese and Japanese.

Apparently these (or similar) extensions exist for many languages, as well.

You just have to download the dictionary you want to use (the extension links above have links for those), add the extension to your existing (free) Firefox browser, and you’re set! Particularly helpful when you’re learning a language.

I found this via a Language Log post last night, although that post was just using this as an example of onomatopoeia in Japanese, which is certainly worthy — who doesn’t like onomatopoeia?

A brief quote from that post for your pleasure:

“Although I didn’t know offhand exactly what PERAPERA meant, I could tell from its form that it must be an onomatopoeic term. When I looked PERAPERA up in my little Kenkyusha and Sanseido dictionaries, I discovered that as an adverb it indicates ‘fluently, glibly, volubly,’ as a verb it means ‘prattle, gibber, chatter, gab, rattle (on),’ and as an adjective it describes something that is ‘thin, flimsy, skinny.'”


How a writer adds words to the common lexicon

or, Fun with words

Commenting alongside the J.K. Rowling suit vs. RDR Books for copyright infringement (the author is suing, claiming the publisher’s Harry Potter lexicon uses her copyrighted work), the Times of London published a nice editorial yesterday:

A generation has now grown up besotted (©Milton) with Quidditch and Hogwarts. However, it is not astonishing that J.K. Rowling is using a court case to remind the writers of a zany (©Shakespeare) Harry Potter lexicon, now making the jump from cyberspace (©William Gibson) to print, that it is not common property and she did invent it all. She may succeed in persuading the court that her copyright is violated by some parts of the proposed encyclopedia. Indeed, she may have a respectable commercial case, but not much of a cultural one. However, unless she employs a mole (©le Carré) to oversee our every conversation and written exchange, she should not try to suppress a collection of her invented words. For Voldemort, Muggles, Horcruxes and all Rowling’s other serendipitous (©Walpole) coinages are ours now; it would be pig-headed (©Jonson) not to let us use them as we wish.

English is so full of the neologisms of authors that if we had to credit each one, we would assassinate (©Shakespeare) our prose, and make readers chortle (©Carroll) mightily. Without being didactic (©Milton), Rowling can be assured that she is in good company in contributing words, gratis, to the language. The best she should hope for is that her words become as widely adopted as those of other authors. Perhaps the highest honour has been bestowed on the quark (©Joyce), used as the name for a sub-atomic particle. As there are quarks across the Universe, Joyce may be our most disseminated author. Rowling should be proud if Doxies, Thestrals or Butterbeer make it as far as a lexicon.

Via Shelf Awareness.

Incongruous name?

Incongruous name?

If Seattle Fish Co. is expanding enough that it has a base in Kansas City, Missouri, maybe it needs to rethink the city in its name.

I typed Seattle Fish Co. into Google to check out the company, but I can’t tell from the results if the truck belonged to the Seattle Fish Co. (here) of Seattle, or if it belonged to the Seattle Fish Co. (yes, same name!) of Denver, Colorado (here).

A hint for those of you naming companies: Check around first. It’s bad to brand your company with a name already in use by another organization!

Bonus hint: Use place names and people names with care when creating the name for your venture.

O, Conoco!: A proposition

In my daze of traveling (especially the night driving) yesterday, it occurred to me that “O, Conoco!” is a palindrome. I started singing this song, to the tune of “O, Canada!” and suggested to my driving husband that Canada might want to at least consider a name change to be able to utilize this new anthem.

Advantages of the change (as articulated last night):

• Sponsorship opportunities. A town was renamed as a publicity stunt for Joe Montana; perhaps the petroleum company would see such a paid sponsorship as a way to remove the spotlight from Big Oil’s astonishing profits.

• It would be a move with educational advantages. More of the general population would learn about palindromes.

• As somewhat insinuated in the first point, Canada and the Canadian people would have a financial advantage to settling such an arrangement. Perhaps it could be done for a limited time.

Maybe Canada’s not up for the change. If it’s not, but Conoco’s still open, perhaps it could settle for a distant runner up: Rename the town of Gas, Kansas (Home of the Largest Gas Kan in the World, see here).

Yes, I know this is super silly, but it was birthed during a late-night drive through boring Kansas (and part of Missouri).

Intentionally losing your trademark

Thomas’ is apparently trying to lose its trademark. The maker of English muffins and bagels (part of George Weston Bakeries), in its latest series of television advertisements is attempting to make its brand name synonymous with English muffins.

This is even more confusing since it also offers bagels. Why would the company decide to equate its brand with one product, which necessarily alienates the brand from its other product?

Most companies fight hard to keep their trademarks unencumbered (Kleenex, Xerox, Google, Frisbee …). See here.

While it may help promotion to a certain extent when customers and potential customers begin to equate a company name with a product genre, in this instance the case against such a move is stronger than normal — the company has evidently been most known for its bagels (not English muffins), given that its URL is http://www.thomasbagels.com.

What were they thinking?

Subdividing the South

With all the new words being added to the public consciousness each year, perhaps we should consider new words for different parts of the South.

One friend, who grew up in Arkansas and lives here still, says that this is more Midwestern than Southern:

Many people consider me to be Southern, and while I often take it as a compliment (even if it wasn’t intended that way), it’s not one I deserve. Northwest Arkansas, in my opinion, is not the South. It has a great deal of history related to the Ozarks, people who didn’t take a side in the Civil War or fought with the Union. But it’s a completely different flavor from the South, where my folks grew up [west Tennessee and southern Georgia]. In the South, ladies wore (and wear) heals and pearls to football games, they speak with various Southern accents, none of which I’ve been able to master. My brother can imitate my south Georgia relatives, and we all fall in the floor laughing. My mother’s friend from Mississippi pronounces my name with four syllables, but it’s hardly Elizabeth. More like Liz-a-BAY-uth. They still hold debutante and coming-out parties in south Georgia, and many high school dances are still held separately for white and black students, or were combined in the last couple of years (check out NPR, and I’m obviously not endorsing that!).

In some ways, I can see where she’s coming from. Northwest Arkansas is growing rapidly, and I’d guess that many of the newcomers aren’t Southerners. Actually, I wouldn’t consider myself a Southerner, either, although for purposes of residence clarity, I will call myself an Arkansan. It seems a term such as Southerner or the South are more defined by history than by the present day. I’ll claim Arkansan, simply because it’s my state of residence. But Southerner? I’d have had to grow up in the South, and I didn’t.

I certainly agree that Arkansas is not part of the Deep South. (Hence the distinguishing term, though.)

As another friend (from Virginia) pointed out, the Southern states that are on the East Coast have characteristics that the other Southern states (including Arkansas, obviously) don’t share. This is something Arkansas shares with the Midwest, but it seems a weak way to argue that Arkansas is not part of the South, to say that it’s not Eastern. Alas.

According to all standard measures, Arkansas is part of the traditional South: It seceded from the Union. Arkansas is also part of the traditional Southern Democrat phenomenon. It certainly shares many of the characteristics of the South mentioned in A Prairie Home Companion‘s program from Georgia this weekend.

Perhaps it’s a matter of perspective: I’m Midwestern, and Northwest Arkansas isn’t that. Elizabeth’s from further south, and she more clearly sees the distinctions of this area from there.

Maybe we should take a cue from car commercials on TV, which subdivides many regions into smaller pieces and sort of creates new identities for their residents. Car commercials label Arkansas “mid-south,” and although it may not be coining a new word, it could work. Oklahoma is termed “southwest” by car commercials.

The U.S. Census Bureau classifies 16 states as Southern, and it further breaks them into divisions:
• The four East South Central states are Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.
• The eight South Atlantic states are Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
• The four West South Central states are Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Aside from being clinical, though, these terms add confusion to the situation: Maryland wasn’t part of the Confederacy, and Oklahoma and Texas are not included in any definition of the South I’ve ever seen.

In the interim, I’ll continue using the standard, universal, traditional terminology when needed.