By Steve Rivkin
The envelope, please. The “Trade Name of the Year” for 2012 is…Fiscal Cliff. Ben Bernanke’s use of this term made it famous worldwide, and it is now universally understood throughout Europe as well as in the United States.
That announcement came from the American Name Society, which also chose an overall name of the year as well as winners in various sub-categories.
- Sandy, the superstorm that devastated parts of New Jersey and New York in October 2012, was dubbed the overall “Name of the Year.”
- Gangnam was voted Place Name of the Year. This name of a trendy affluent district of Seoul, South Korea, has become known through the United States and worldwide as a result of the YouTube video of Korean rapper PSY’s song “Gangnam Style,” which now has more than a billion views. Hundreds of parodies of the song have been made, and scores of politicians and celebrities have appeared doing the dance featured in the video. The Korean place name means “south of the Han River.”
- Downton Abbey won as Fictional Name of the Year. The name of the estate featured in the British television series broadcast on PBS in the United States has become recognizable as a symbol for elegance and aristocracy, being one of the most popular programs ever shown on the noncommercial public network.
- Malala was chosen as the Personal Name of the Year. The first name of Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for refusing to abandon her campaign for girls’ education, is now known worldwide as a symbol for women’s rights.
The American Name Society was founded in 1951 to promote onomastics, the study of names and naming practices.