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Of Interest:
power of language

Color Us Impressed

We were delighted to see the New York Times address the topic of names and naming in today’s paper, with specific reference to the changing style of color names in the paint industry. It seems that more companies are taking the opportunity to let the name tell a story or describe an experience, rather than being merely descriptive.

As paint names and colors are apparently never retired, and as there are only so many ways to say ’green,’ we’re not surprised to hear about the marketers looking to leverage the name to help themselves stand out in the increasingly crowded marketplace. We think the name is the single most overlooked opportunity to leverage one’s marketing dollar.

Imbalanced Humours?

We tend to think of all things medical as being rather serious and humorless, but this article rounds up several instances of potentially problematic names for medical conditions requiring a doctor’s care.

The name of the article speaks for itself:

Ten Serious Medical Problems With Cutesy Names


First Impressions Last

Well, this is bound to give rise to argument...

recent study shows an apparent link between academic success and a child’s first name. While naming traditions vary across cultures and socioeconomic strata, the study seem to show that certain names saddle the bearer with preconceptions that have a negative impact on classroom grades, which in turn limits further opportunities as the child grows. More simply put: some names give the impression that the bearers are more stupid than they may actually be, and people will treat the bearer accordingly.

Our Worst Nightmare

An article in today’s Science section of the New York Times discusses a less-well-known form of dementia which affects the language region of the brain, known as Primary Progressive Aphasia. Similar to, but not related to Alzheimer’s, this degenerative disease robs those who suffer from it of their ability to find or use the right word, or even use sign language, as that relies on the same area of the brain. The most terrifying aspect is that the patient is painfully aware of the progression, and the eventual disintegration of the faculty of speech.

As people who work in the world of words, and who view the world through that particular lens, the thought of losing our ability to communicate - or interact with the world - fills us with the worst kind of dread.

Metaphors Make This World

We’re delighted to see David Brooks’ column (currently the top most emailed article from make prominent mention of a book we consider central to our way of seeing the world and a foundation of our approach to naming. Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By, a classic now in a second edition, broke new ground in linguistic analysis by categorizing, classifying and organizing the metaphors that pervade our everyday speech. We recommend the book to anyone who wants to better hear the poetry that surrounds us every day.

Ways of Being, and the Power of Words

We’re big fans of Virginia Heffernan, and glad to see she now has her own column in the Sunday New York Times. On today’s op-ed page, she has a piece exploring the way we use words to shape opinion, with specific reference to “internet addiction.” We found the article to be thoughtful and thought provoking on several levels, and the comments in response were good reading in their own right.

She observes: “In general, if a pastime is not classy, those who love it are “addicted.” Opera and poetry buffs are “passionate.””

This echoes
George Lakoff’s work on “Framing” rather pithily. The words we use to describe an object or condition have everything to do with how we perceive it, individually or as part of a group. To paraphrase the Simpsons, a rose would not smell as sweet if it were called a stench blossom, or a crapweed.

At Nomenon, we’re keenly aware of the power and effect of words well-chosen, and we’d be glad to bring our expertise to bear on your naming and branding needs, ensuring positive response in your target market.