Tag Archives: names

Winter Olympic pronunciation tips: Finnish

I’m getting back onto the Winter Olympics, which are impending. Finnish names come up in a number of winter sports, and people often freak out needlessly and make easily fixed mistakes when trying to say them. Here are four tips to remember if you want to get reasonably close on the pronunciation of Finnish names. Pour yourself six shots and let’s go!

The many names of Christmas: the podcast

A couple of years ago, I did an article for The Week on the names different languages have for Christmas, and how many of them have no “Christ” in them. This year we’ve made a podcast of it, so you can hear me actually say all these different names. It’s not that long…

Almost every language has a word for ‘Christmas.’ Few reference Christ.

Talking turkey

Last year I did an article on what the turkey is called in different languages – and why. This year we (specifically my splendid producer at The Week, Lauren Hansen, and I) made an audio version of it. So you get to hear me saying the words for ‘turkey’ in all those different languages. Give it a listen!

How the Thanksgiving turkey was named after the country Turkey


Keep the Ziemas in Ziemassvētki

My latest piece for The Week is on Christmas – and Noël, and Navidad, and Weihnachten, and Jul, and Ziemassvētki… Christmas has different names in different languages, and most of them don’t mention Christ. In fact, many of them are retained names of pagan festivals. Does that seem inappropriate? Do you mind Christmas trees, or mistletoe, or – for that matter – the name Easter?

Almost every language has a word for ‘Christmas.’ Few reference Christ.


Sci-fi/fantasy name? Or prescription drug?

My latest article for TheWeek.com is a quiz. It’s a really hard quiz (but also fun):

Quiz: Drug brand or sci-fi name?

But after the quiz I explain just why it’s so hard to tell them apart. So do it… and live long and fill that prescription!

Royal baby names

My most recent two articles for TheWeek.com have been about the British royal baby name book – a rather slim volume. The first article talks about which names have been used and which are most popular:

A brief history of royal baby names

Will and Kate’s wee one will be the seventh British king to be called George

The second talks about where those names come from and what they originally meant:

What do the names of British kings and queens actually mean?

King Wealth-Guard, Queen Bitterness, and King Desire-Helmet, for starters


editor James Harbeck on titles and job descriptions before names

Titles and job descriptions before names are compound modifiers. Here’s an extract from an email I sent internally a while ago on this topic:

When there is a nonrestrictive modifier (set off by a comma or commas), the sentence has to be syntactically coherent without it. News media often make the mistake of confusing nonrestrictive modifiers with noun heads preceded by attributive nouns. Here’s an example: “The article was written by noted pharmacist, Trish Rawn.” This is not proper. Continue reading