Monthly Archives: April 2011

Xhosa Clicks…on You Tube!

I was just checking out some language preservation efforts out there in YouTube land and I ran into these two Xhosa videos from South African video blogger Khayav. I admit that I wouldn’t show every video in the classroom, but these two videos on Xhosa are lighthearted and full of Xhosa clicks in the wild – enjoy!

YouTube in Xhosa (Translated and Ad Free)



A Xhosa Tongue Twister (with sociolinguistic digression)

Linguistics….on Bravo TV

There’s an excellent clip from the new Bravo show Pregnant in Heels in which soon-to-be-parents from New York request professional help to give their baby a good “brand” name. The maternity consultant Rosie Pope obliges by creating a naming panel who are “very academic” (which of course a linguist must be included).

No one has asked, but I thought I would I would offer my expert advice. The parameters the parents gave are as follows:

  • Name for a boy
  • Upper class, but ethnicity not important
  • Not “decorative”
  • Easy to spell

  • Not too popular
  • No J,E,R and no final S

To these parameters, I would add the following – “will not get you beaten up on a playground.” In other words, even if the name is not common, it should have some positive resonance in multiple social settings outside of Upper East Side. Since we’re talking brand, this criteria should be factored in.

In addition, since the parents are Anglo, I would also tend towards an Anglo name. I have nothing against non-Anglo names, but most “high class” names actually have some sort of family or ethnic connection, so I feel this is an important consideration.

My Choices

The trickiest part was avoiding the “E” because it is the most common vowel in English, but it can be done. These are some recognizable names I believe fit the criteria:

Donald, Nathan, Colin, Dylan, Gavin, Ian, David, Hugh, William, Karl (with a K),

There may be others that fit the criteria, but which I feel are not playground-friendly (some things are personal judgement calls).

FYI – Another option are family names as first names. A nice feature of family names is that they are both aristocratic, but authentic to the family.

Despite my earlier branding parameters, I do believe that any name can work if the parent really believes in the history of it passes it along to their children. As a child, I never really appreciated Alfred as a name, until I learned more about the Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great.