Online Dictionary Helps Nigerians Decode Their Names

February 26th, 2016 by The names given to a child by southwest Nigeria’s Yoruba people come with a certain meaning, which may be related to something like the time of year or to the circumstances of the child’s birth. While linguist Kola Tubosun knows the meaning of his name, many of the other Yorubas he has met do not. So, he decided to do something about it. Launched earlier this month, YorubaName.com is an online dictionary of traditional Yoruba names, aimed at Yoruba people who might have forgotten their name’s meaning or never learned it in the first place. “The whole idea is to provide a central place where people can find all, hopefully all of the Yoruba names, be able to find its meaning,” said Dadepo Aderemi, the site’s head developer. Read more: Voice of America‎

Many surnames began as insulting nicknames

January 11th, 2016 by Most of us have suffered the indignity of being given a nasty nickname — at summer camp, university or work — that stuck with us for years. But imagine if such a nickname followed you throughout your entire life — and then stuck to your children, your grandchildren and the rest of your descendants until the end of time. Amazingly, name researchers believe that some of our most common surnames likely began just like that: as insults. Michael Adams, a professor of linguistics at Indiana University, said researchers have come across names in old records like “John the Bastard.” And while most Bastards have since found an excuse to change their name, other no-less-insulting surnames remain fairly common. Read more: Canada.com‎

Irish language group wins row with Facebook over Irish names

October 11th, 2015 by Social media giant Facebook has bowed to pressure from Irish language rights group Misneach whose members were furious to learn that they would not be allowed to display their names as Gaeilge on the site. The group had planned to stage a large protest outside Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin yesterday, but plans were called to a halt when Facebook bosses caved. Misneach has now been assured that Irish language names will be given the green light and that users will not be automatically logged out of Facebook for having Irish names, as had been the case before. “Two months ago it became apparent that Facebook had been deleting the accounts of users who had their names in the Irish language and requesting that they show proof of identity to confirm their real name,” a Misneach spokesperson said. “That is, their name which they use in the real world and could provide documentation for.” Read more: The Irish Post

The Origins of 9 Royal Nicknames

August 20th, 2015 by Many of Britain’s most famous monarchs are remembered by some nickname or soubriquet that has either long outlived them, or else has been bestowed on them posthumously by later historians. William I will forever be known as “William The Conqueror.” His red-headed son and successor William II was “William Rufus.” Both Edward VI and Henry VI were known as “The Boy King,” because they were just 9 years old and 9 months old, respectively, when they ascended to the throne. And while Elizabeth I was famously “The Virgin Queen,” her sister Mary I’s brutal treatment of anti-Catholic dissenters led her to become “Bloody Mary.” But many royal nicknames aren’t quite as straightforward as these. King Henry I, for instance, was known as “Henry Beauclerc,” meaning “good-scholar”—a reference to his good education and love of learning. His grandson, Henry II, was nicknamed “Curtmantle,” apparently for his preference for hunting in short-trimmed jackets. And as well as being called “The King of the Sea” (more on that in a moment), Edward III was just as well known in his time as “Edward The Bankrupt,” after he defaulted on two personal loans in 1340, and thereby bankrupted two wealthy Florentine family banks. The origins of nine more royal nicknames, from the medieval period to the early 20th century, are explained here. Read more: Mental Floss