Comments: More stories of the aptly named

I used to be aptly titled, back when folks would call me "Rosie" (I have rosy-red cheeks), but I got over it.

Posted by Rose at May 27, 2004 11:32 AM

Actually, in American English usage punctuation is *always* placed within the quotation marks, even when they are used to designate a title. British English usage is slightly more reasonable; they put punctuation outside quotation marks according to common sense (e.g. in this case it would be "Joey"?)

Posted by jcbarret at May 27, 2004 12:32 PM

I favor British usage myself vis-a-vis punctutation and quotation marks, as anal readers of this site will already have noticed. A sensible editor would surely bend the rule for clarity in the case of "Joey".

Posted by Francis at May 27, 2004 01:05 PM

JC Barret:

While I can't check all of the references I have at work (I'm home sick today), I can check my current copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. The CMS, in sections 6.8-6.9, says that only periods and commas almost always precede the closing quotation mark. Colons, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points follow the closing quotation mark unless it belongs with the quoted matter. Section 6.8 also notes some instances when including the period or comma could cause problems and offers suggestions on avoiding them.

Posted by Tablesaw at May 28, 2004 08:03 AM
It's perhaps even more delectable when the phrase appears in the headline, as in this article, whose headline can be paraphrased as "Award is named after the person it was named after".

I think I can forgive them, since the headline "Polly Award Aptly Named" actually paraphrases to something like "Naming the award after Polly was apt, as she embodies what the award stands for; naming the service excellence award after, say, anyone who works at U-Haul would have been much less appropriate." Especially since the article is not about the award, it's about how Polly embodies service excellence--that is, the article is not about the award, or the name, but about why the name is apt.

Also, insofar as Mark Liberman points out that "Authorized Personnel Only" has the same tautological-paraphrase problem, your paraphrase wouldn't bother me anyway.

Posted by Tahnan at May 28, 2004 01:12 PM

One would rather hope she embodied what the award stood for, or why name it after her?

Posted by Francis at May 28, 2004 01:27 PM

Oh, I don't know. Margaret Herrick's uncle Oscar hardly embodied everything the Academy Award stands for. It's my understanding that Hugo Gernsback didn't exactly embody good science fiction writing, so it's always been a mystery to me why the Hugo is named for him. And would you call the "Nobel Peace Prize" aptly named, given that Nobel's main achievement was dynomite? (For that matter, is the Nobel Prize in general "aptly named", insofar as Nobel only gave the money for it?)

Posted by Lance at May 28, 2004 01:34 PM

Searching the OED for "aptly named" is not so much informative as it is interesting. Well, no, it's dull. I did find the lovely quote: "1966 Telegraph (Austral.) 12 Oct. 58/3 The teenybopper is aptly named because her two distinguishing features are her teeny size and her cool boppy with-it attitude to life."

Much more mysterious: "1890 W. E. AYRTON in Spectator 19 Apr., To electrically propel may be aptly named to 'telepher', or, say 'telpher' as an abbreviation."

On the other hand, seeing the things the people quoted in the OED thought were aptly named did remind me that there are a whole lot of things out there that aren't aptly named. (The "cherry-nose", which appropriately enough for the times is a kind of cicada in Australia, is apparently aptly named, which, when you consider the number of animals whose names are fairly random, is worth noting. Is the clownfish aptly named? Marlin, Nemo's father, wasn't very funny...)

Posted by Lance at May 28, 2004 01:43 PM

And how much more interesting is it to read about something that's not aptly named?

Anyway, ponying up the money for an award seems like a reasonable criterion for having it named after you. Also, if I may use your typo as the source of a cheap joke: Nobel's main achievement was dynamite. Jimmie Walker's main achievement was dynomite.

Posted by Francis at May 28, 2004 01:47 PM

"The teenybopper is aptly named because her two distinguishing features are her teeny size and her cool boppy with-it attitude to life."

That one's pretty good. The problem, of course, is not so much inherent to the phrase as the fact that the phrase has become a too-common piece of the critics' arsenal. I feel like people who become critics (or reporters in general) have so internalized the language that gets used in writing reviews that they just lift these figures of speech wholesale without any thought given to whether they improve or detract from their article as a piece of writing, or say anything worth saying.

Posted by Francis at May 28, 2004 01:57 PM