Favorite

Words 

Mike Doyle writes from Jonesboro:

“In ‘Words' June 28, you wrote that you hope Arkansas State U. shows imagination in selecting a new ‘nickname.' I teach at ASU (College of Communications) and this issue is on the front page of the local newspaper quite often, and also on radio and TV. I'd like to bypass the selection issue and concentrate on something perhaps more relevant to your column — the misuse of a word.

“Numerous local media have referred to the Indians being replaced with a new ‘nickname.' But ‘nickname' can't be appropriate, can it? The Oxford American Dictionary defines it as ‘a name given humorously to a person instead of, or as well as, his real name.' So, John Wayne's nickname was ‘Duke.' (Although John Wayne wasn't the actor's real name, anyway.) And Louis Armstrong's nickname was ‘Satchmo.' These are nicknames because they substitute for real names. But if U of A's ‘nickname' is the Razorbacks, and UCA's ‘nickname' is the Bears, and ASU's ‘nickname' (for now) is the Indians, then what are the real names for which these are being substituted? They don't exist. Those are simply the mascot names.”

Of course. What happened here — I may as well come clean — is that I foolishly left my computer unguarded and someone crept in and changed “mascot” to “nickname.” I take full responsibility.

Random House says that a nickname is “a name added to or substituted for the proper name of a person, place, etc., as in affection, ridicule, or familiarity.” Philly is a nickname. Razorbacks and Indians are not. (But Hogs is a nickname for the Razorbacks.)

Like ASU, Arkansas Tech University is considering changing its mascot. I'd be sorry to see Wonder Boys go. It's one of several distinctive names found in small-college Arkansas football, along with Boll Weevils and Muleriders. I happened to be watching a Canadian Football League game on TV the other day, and heard a defensive lineman identified as “an old Mulerider from South Arkansas.” The name of his college team probably wouldn't have been mentioned if it were Lions or Bulldogs.

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Week That Was

    After the wildest week of the wildest presidency in history, the clouded future suddenly unfolds more clearly and, yes, nearer. That includes the end of the Trump presidency.
  • Redefining candidate quality

    Despite what national party organizations like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee say, conventional definitions of candidate quality are not leading to progressive wins in 2018.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Week That Was

    • One wonders how much of that wonderful weed Ernie has been smoking to think that…

    • on April 20, 2018
  • Re: Redefining candidate quality

    • "It's the grassroots fire that ignited in the days and weeks after President Trump's election…

    • on April 20, 2018
  • Re: Week That Was

    • I saw James Comey interviewed by Stephen Colbert. When Stephen asked if trump was mentally…

    • on April 20, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation