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Naming Conventions

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Yesterday I pointed to a list of IKEA Naming Conventions, revealing the logic behind how they've named their products. In my life, the main families of items I see named are computers (generally, servers). At my office, we name the servers after sushi -- so you have otoro, hamachi, maguro, and so on. At web hosting company Pair, servers are named for the phonetic spelling of alphabet letters (including common alphabets like Greek and obscure stuff like Ogham -- shown in the photo to the right) -- so you get pi, rho, upsilon; and beith, nuin, huath. Ubuntu Linux releases are named with alliterative monikers like "Breezy Badger," "Dapper Drake," and "Gutsy Gibbon." At college, I interned in an office where the computers were named after Simpsons characters (my machine was "Itchy").

But it's not just about naming computers. When my childhood cat Raisin had kittens, we named them after various royal positions: Duke, Duchess, Prince, Princess, etc. Radio call signs are based on alphanumeric conventions. Planets have a shockingly rigorous naming convention. Even ancient Roman names follow a naming convention.

So let's have it -- what naming conventions have you come across? I'm particularly curious about children named according to a convention (my parents seemed to go for saint names, so my brother and I are Michael and Christopher...though I guess Michael is technically an archangel).

(Idea via Lyza Danger Gardner.)

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'Froyo,' 'Troll,' and 'Sriracha' Added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
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Looking for the right word to describe the time you spend drinking before heading out to a party, or a faster way to say “frozen yogurt?" Merriam-Webster is here to help. The 189-year-old English vocabulary giant has just added 250 new words and definitions to their online dictionary, including pregame and froyo.

New words come and go quickly, and it’s Merriam-Webster’s job to keep tabs on the terms that have staying power. “As always, the expansion of the dictionary mirrors the expansion of the language, and reaches into all the various cubbies and corners of the lexicon,” they wrote in their announcement.

Froyo is just one of the recent additions to come from the culinary world. Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish; choux pastry, a type of dough; and sriracha, a Thai chili sauce that’s been around for decades but has just recently exploded in the U.S., are now all listed on Merriam-Webster's website.

Of course, the internet was once again a major contributor to this most recent batch of words. Some new terms, like ransomware (“malware that requires the victim to pay a ransom to access encrypted files”) come from the tech world, while words like troll ("to harass, criticize, or antagonize [someone] especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts”) were born on social media. Then there’s the Internet of Things, a concept that shifts the web off our phones and computers and into our appliances.

Hive mind, dog whistle, and working memory are just a few of the new entries to receive the Merriam-Webster stamp of approval. To learn more about how some words make it into the dictionary while others get left out, check these behind-the-scenes secrets of dictionary editors.

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How New Words Become Mainstream
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If you used the words jeggings, muggle, or binge-watch in a sentence 30 years ago, you would have likely been met with stares of confusion. But today these words are common enough to hold spots in the Oxford English Dictionary. Such lingo is a sign that English, as well as any other modern language, is constantly evolving. But the path a word takes to enter the general lexicon isn’t always a straightforward one.

In the video below, TED-Ed lays out how some new words become part of our everyday speech while others fade into obscurity. Some words used by English speakers are borrowed from other languages, like mosquito (Spanish), avatar (Sanskrit), and prairie (French). Other “new” words are actually old ones that have developed different meanings over time. Nice, for example, used to only mean silly, foolish, or ignorant, and meat was used as blanket term to describe any solid food given to livestock.

The internet alone is responsible for a whole new section of our vocabulary, but even the words most exclusive to the web aren’t always original. For instance, the word meme was first used by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

To learn more about the true origins of the words we use on a regular basis, check out the full story from TED-Ed below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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