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Names, brands, writing, and the language of commerce.

Updated: 2017-08-15T06:31:00-07:00


On the Visual Thesaurus: The new eponyms


My new column for the Visual Thesaurus considers a batch of new brand names, including Mr. Cooper (the insurance company formerly known as Nationstar), Penny (a personal- finance app), Dave (another personal-finance app), Oscar (a health-insurance company), June (an “intelligent oven”), and Alexa (the Amazon device). All of these names...

Word of the week: Based


It’s not uncommon for words originally used as slurs to be reclaimed with pride by the targeted group. Queer was reappropriated by gay people, deplorable by Trump supporters, and Impressionist by 19th-century artists. It’s much less common for a pejorative term to be reclaimed twice. Yet that’s what’s happened with...

Names in the wild: Westfield San Francisco Centre food court (and beyond)


I had a little extra time before meeting a friend at SFMOMA to see the “Soundtracks” exhibit (highly recommended), so I took a detour through for the food court of the Westfield San Francisco Centre on Market Street, looking for interesting brands. I scored right away. “Interesting” doesn’t even begin...

Word of the week: Screed


On Saturday, the technology blog Motherboard reported on a document titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” that had been posted by an unnamed male software engineer on a company mailing list and had subsequently gone “internally viral.” By the end of the day, another tech blog, Gizmodo, had published the complete...

The case of the forbidden letters


The naming brief was comprehensive and clear, except for one line toward the end: “No names that begin with A, B, or F.” Wait. What? Curious about the prohibition, I emailed the client – a native English speaker, by the way. The response: “I’m not a fan of brand names...