Guggenheim Online Forum Asks: What Makes a Name "Good"?

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Robert Jones, Frank Nuessel, and Ben Zimmer convene this week to discuss the relationship between something and what it’s called for “The Name Game,” the latest installment of Guggenheim Forum, an online discussion series.

The panel, moderated by Mark Abley, journalist and author of The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English, will delve into the question of what exactly does a name mean, communicate, do? How do we decide if a title is "successful"?

The group’s discussion will unfold over one week a part of the Guggenheim Forum, the museum’s ongoing series of moderated online discussions catalyzing intelligent conversation on the arts, architecture, and design. Several times each year, experts from a variety of fields inquire into and debate topics related to the museum’s exhibition program. “The Name Game” will include a one-hour live chat with members of our panel and is presented in concert with the exhibition John Chamberlain: Choices, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, through May 13, 2012.

“The Name Game” includes as participants an exemplary group of thinkers from the worlds of branding, linguistics, and poetics. Robert Jones is a strategist at London-based brand consultants Wolff Olins and a visiting professor at the University of East Anglia. He is author of The Big Idea (2008). Jones’s clients range from corporations including Aviva, Barclays, and PwC to not-for-profits such as Oxfam and Tate.

Frank Nuessel is Professor of Languages and Linguistics and University Scholar at the University of Louisville. He served as president of the Semiotic Society of America in 2011 and is currently president of the American Association of Teachers of Italian. He is Chief Reader of AP Italian Language and Culture Exam (2006–09, 2011– ).

Ben Zimmer, who along with moderator Mark Abley will host the live chat on Wednesday, April 25, noon EDT, is executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com and writes a language column for the Boston Globe. He was formerly the "On Language" columnist for The New York Times Magazine and editor of American dictionaries at Oxford University Press. He serves as chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society.