New Name Game
by Mad Dog
have run out of good names. Obviously there are only 26 letters in
the alphabet and a finite number of pronounceable combinations.
Unless, of course, you don’t mind sounding like Sylvester Stallone
March 26th the British Post Office will change its name to
Consignia. Roll it around your mouth a little. Savor it. Then let me
know when you’re done spitting it out and sucking down a quart of
turpentine to get rid of the bad aftertaste so I can continue.
They’re doing this
because they decided they needed the dumbest name possible and
Ishtar was already taken. Just kidding. Actually, Ishtar is
available since no one will own up to having had anything to do with
The truth is, someone in
the soon-to-be- renamed post office thinks it’s time to bring the
organization into the new millennium. You’d think they’d have
learned something from the Millennium Dome, but no, someone with
more power than good sense thinks it will sound much more
millenniumish for people to say, “Honey, I’m going to Consignia
so I can sign over a consignment to Auntie Emma” rather than
“I’m going to mail a letter.” And they wonder why they have no
They’re certainly not the
only ones changing their name. Companies are doing it at an alarming
rate. It’s gotten so bad that my bank went from being First &
Merchants National Bank to F&M, then Sovran, NationsBank, and
finally Bank of America. For a while I thought they were doing it so
I wouldn’t know where to go to withdraw my money but then I
realized that couldn’t be it—they knew I didn’t have enough in
my account to make it worth tracking them down.
is now Mumbai. In Vietnam dining on “little tiger” is what they
used to call eating the neighbor’s cat. And in the United States
right-wing Republicans went so far as to rename themselves
The problem is, companies have run out of good names.
Obviously there are only 26 letters in the alphabet and a finite
number of pronounceable combinations. Unless, of course, you don’t
mind sounding like Sylvester Stallone on Quaaludes. They’ve used
acronyms, put an ‘i’ and ‘e’ in front of every word in the
Oxford English Dictionary, and have now resorted to making up dumb,
meaningless names that tell us nothing. Thus we have Teligent,
Lucent Technologies, Agilent, Visteon, and of course, the British
Post...I mean, Consignia.
I’m not being old
fashioned, but it is nice to hear a company name that gives at least
a teeny tiny clue as to what they do. For instance, Bubba’s Body
and Fender Shop tells me a lot. I instantly know this is a place to
go if my car needs body work, my motorcycle needs repainting, or I
want to get my ass kicked by a drunk redneck wielding a sledgehammer
and a tire iron while his friends ask me if I can squeal like a pig.
Changing the name to
Bubigent doesn’t tell me a thing. Or as people like to say now,
“it doesn’t speak to me,” which is a phrase that makes me long
for the good old days when those who publicly declared that names
talked to them learned another euphemism when they “went away for
Companies are trying too
hard to sound unique. People walk around with the same first or last
names—sometimes both—and we don’t have any problems with it.
There have been Josephs since before the Bible. There are more
Smiths in the phone book than un-recounted votes in Florida. And you
can’t throw a stone in the Middle East without hitting a David or
Muhammad. Hell, in California the most popular boy’s name is Jose
and you don’t hear the kids there screaming “no way!”
is true that sometimes people create new names, like Oprah,
Condoleezza, and Lamar Alexander, though we know they’re only
playing around so we don’t take these people seriously. Hell, in
Bali there are only four first names—Wayan, Made, Nyoman, and
Ketut—and you don’t see them making up fancy-ass new ones.
AOL Time Warner will probably combine the words to
become AtWar. And “Temptation Island” will be back next season
under the more appropriate name of “Who Wants to Be a Slut”,
giving Regis yet another gig, one he finally deserves.
They’re assigned their name according to birth order, with men and
women having the same four names. As if that doesn’t complicate
life enough, they don’t have last names. Well, they do, but it
changes throughout their life and it’s different for each member
of the family.
If there are more than four
children in a family—and if you’re any sort of Balinese there
will be—they start over with the fifth child also being Wayan, the
sixth Made, etc. Thus a large family can have three Wayans, with
some being male and others female. This must be hell for teachers
who ask Wayan to stand up and watch as half the class rises. On the
other hand, it can make a mother’s life much easier. Instead of
having to call ten different children to dinner she can yell out
four names and the whole brood comes running. Not quite as easy as
Mrs. George Foreman has it, but close.
Renaming isn’t confined
to companies. Bombay, India is now Mumbai. In Vietnam dining on
“little tiger” is what they used to call eating the neighbor’s
cat. And in the United States right-wing Republicans went so far as
to rename themselves compassionate conservatives, though I’m sure
once they’re ensconced in their offices they’ll revert to their
old selves, much like Jack the Ripper falling off the wagon after
making it through the first three steps of Slashers Anonymous.
Don’t expect this trend to end anytime soon. AOL Time
Warner will probably combine the words to become AtWar.
“Temptation Island” will be back next season under the more
appropriate name of “Who Wants to Be a Slut”, giving Regis yet
another gig, one he finally deserves. And the U.S. Postal Service
will abandon the lame acronym USPS and start using the more accurate
LostInSpace. Hey, it beats Consignia. Besides, it’s the least they
can do for the extra penny we have to pay for each letter now.
Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them, don't rename them.