We had 12 total nominations this year. A committee reduced this to a ballot of five possibilites (Blue Dog Democrats, Flickr, Macaca, Pluto
, and Shiloh
Nouvel Jolie-Pitt). I will copy below the rationales that were given for all 12 nominees. Pluto
only won by one vote over Macaca. Of course, no one knows why individual members cast their votes the way they did because it's a secret ballot. Remember that this contest was for all sorts of names that deomonstrate how names have been used in North American culture in the past year, not just given names:
___Ahmadinejad. The President of Iran became a prominent character for the United States in 2005-2006. He is repeatedly being denounced for developing his country's nuclear facilities. His religious affiliation with the Shiites in Iraq affects the United States involvement in Iraq. He has repeatedly made public statements for attention by the people of the United States. His eligibility for nomination for Name of the Year is reinforced by his potential future importance, either as a constructive or destructive leader of a nation of special importance in the Middle East.
___Barbaro. After a year of rebuilding lives in the hurricane stricken southern states, floods and devastating fires out west and a sad and controversial war in Iraq, this name represents all what we are seeking as humans. Barbaro in his peak as a race horse brought happiness, excitement, courage, bravery, strength, good sportsmanship and sheer beauty. When he was injured and near death, he got humans to pray, appreciate life and ask for hope. Now with his amazing recovery, he does all of those things for humans all over again.
. This name is VERY important in the best-selling Lemony Snicket books. Through all of the books, Snicket keeps the name Beatrice
exactly the same, but treats it in a different way in each book. She is the mysterious woman who in the dedications is the recipient of his fondest feelings. The humor comes in the way Snicket creates variations on the theme of missing her. He starts with alliteration and surprise: “To Beatrice—darling, dearest, dead.” Then he plays with switching from literal to metaphorical meanings as in “For Beatrice—You will always be in my heart, in my mind, and in your grave.” “For Beatrice—When we were together I felt breathless. Now you are,” and “For Beatrice—Our love broke my heart, and stopped yours.” Judging from Book the Twelfth, she died in a house fire as did the Baudelaire’s parents: “No one could extinguish my love, or your house.” He uses contrast in “For Beatrice—When we met, my life began. Soon afterwards, yours ended,” and comparison in “For Beatrice—Summer without you is as cold as winter. Winter
without you is even colder.” “Book the Fourth” has the longest dedication:
To Beatrice—My love flew like a butterfly,
Until death swooped down like a bat.
As the poet Emma Montana
“That’s the end of that.”
Books Tenth and Eleventh, respectively, are perhaps the most enigmatic. “For Beatrice—When we met, you were pretty, and I was lonely. Now, I am pretty lonely,” and “For Beatrice—Dead women tell no tales/ Sad
men write them down.” In the final Book the Thirteenth, he writes, "I cherished, you perished, The world's been nightmarished." Here he hints that Beatrice
was the mother of the Baudelaire children, but readers are still left with lots to wonder about.
___“Blue Dog Democrats”. The name comes from the fact that they represent the “blue states,” but they’re not typical Democrats. They’re sort of “dogs” as “Democrats. On National Public Radio they explained that before the “Blue Dog Democrats” there were the “Yellow Dog Democrats.” These are the Democrats located at the far left. They are called “Yellow Dog Democrats” because “they would vote for a Democrat even if it were a Yellow Dog.” It is said that when the moderate democrats heard about the “Yellow Dog Democrats,” they “turned blue,” and that is how they became the “Blue Dog Democrats.”
___Flickr. Flickr was a little-known website when it came on the scene in early 2004, but a blog post (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/10/the_new_rules_o.html
) by Seth
Godin in October of 2005 pointed out the apparent greatness of the name to marketers around the world. Marketers are now often asked by their business clients if dropping a letter from a real word makes a good corporate name. All of this is because of that one name. How has this affected the world? Well, in less than an hour of searching on the internet over sixty companies that use exactly the same naming convention (dropping the penultimate vowel before a closing "r".) were found by the original nominator of this name. Poems have been written as an homage to the practice - composed entirely from real website and company names.
. It's been the #1 most popular name in the UK for a decade and is steadily rising in the US. On television it belongs to the protagonists on the popular shows 24, Lost, Stargate and Alias, and it is also the name of the main character from this year's most successful movie, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Jack Sparrow
. This traditional name for an “everyman” now has a modern sophisticated and popular image all around the English speaking world.
___“Macaca”. Early in the Senate race in Virginia
, incumbent republican George Allen
democratic challenger Jim
Webb by double-digit margins. Most political pundits, as well as most Virginians themselves, thought Allen
was unbeatable in what was in 2000 and 2004 a solidly republican state. That changed on August
11, at a campaign rally in southwest Virginia
, where Allen
pointed out a Webb campaign worker of Indian descent in the crowd using a racial slur: "This fellow here...Macaca, or whatever his name is. ...Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America
and the real world of Virginia
." The young man to whom Allen
referred was taping the event, and overnight Allen
's insensitivity and potential bigotry were important campaign issues. His lead over Webb vanished within a week. Today Allen
conceded the race, resulting in the U.S. Congress changing from republican to democratic control for the first time in nearly two decades. The term "Macaca moment" now seems to be headed for permanent status as an item in America
's political lexicon. The spread of the incident and the name over You Tube also illustrates the new power of that Website in spreading cultural phenomena.
___“Penguin Space Shuttle.” This was the nickname given to a recent space shuttle which was black and white, and which couldn’t fly because of many delays. The illustrates both normal processes of nicknaming, but also the recent fashionable place penguins seem to have had in American society, as exemplified by cartoon characters such as Opus and films such as The March of the Penguins and Happy
. In August
2006, the International Astronomical Union, meeting in Prague, decided that Pluto
did not meet a strict scientific definition of “planet” and said that Pluto
should be called a “dwarf planet”, with the term “planet” reserved for objects whose gravity has cleared the neighborhood around their orbits. This decision immediately caused an uproar in the general public around the world; even some astronomers were upset. The word “plutoed” has already entered the English language to mean “to downgrade, demote, or remove from a prestigious group or list.” The great emotional reaction that many had to the demotion, often expressed as feeling angry or sorry for Pluto
, also shows how naming an inanimate object or a place with a personal name, even of an ancient Roman
god, helps human beings to become personally attached to them.
___Restless Leg Syndrome. Since it is impossible to prescribe medicine for a medical condition that has no name, it is necessary to provide this condition with a name before anyone can sell medicine to treat the condition. For years we’ve all had “restless legs,” but now that it is named the “Restless Leg Syndrome” we can buy medicine to make it better.
Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. This name symbolized the cult of celebrity gossip. When this child was born in Namibia in May
, many joked that this was the most anticipated birth since the Christ
child, and then "Brangelina" gave her a Messiah-like name, with a biblically significant place name first and "new" in the middle. The rarity and creativity of the given names, combined with the hyphenated surname, to exemplify the characteristics of today’s celebrity baby names for many Americans.
. When Tom
Cruise and Katie
Holmes gave this name to their daughter in April
2006, no one really knew if it had a connection with LRON or Scientology. Many believe it was a reference to LRON's hometown, Surrey, England. Cruise’s publicists claimed it was Hebrew for “princess” (perhaps possible as a Yiddish form of Sarah
) or Persian for “beautiful red rose.” Whatever its derivation, the speculation surrounding the name is another example of the present cult of celebrity.