Posts tagged ‘names’

November 15, 2010

The naming of things

I’m on a roll with this naming thing. An article in a French newspaper caught my attention the other day: it was about families suing an auto maker to protest against the name of a new car model. The latest addition to the Renault fleet produces very low emissions and is named “Zoe” (for ZerO Emission). This would be fine and dandy if Renault was not a common French last name (also spelled Renaud) and if Zoe wasn’t a fairly popular girl name. Parents are concerned their offspring (girls already called Zoe Renaud/lt) would be ridiculed by peers at school and later in life. Justice was rendered in favor of the automobile industry.

Before you laugh, this has already happened before and with the same brand. Back in the 1990s, Renault produced a model named “Megane” (the French equivalent of Megan). A bit later, a Renaud family wanted to name their daughter Mégane and was taken to court. Not by the car manufacturer but by the government out of concern for the girl’s mental well-being.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like this happen in the States. This is the country where landmarks like arenas get renamed after soft drink companies after all. You’d never see that in France. But I digress.

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