What’s in a name?

Jacob Penner

Contributing Writer

jfpenner@goshen.edu

Junior Jacob Penner searches in vain for fellow humans in the barren wasteland that is the GC Union. Photo contributed by Jacob Penner.

Junior Jacob Penner searches in vain for fellow humans in the barren wasteland that is the GC Union.
Photo contributed by Jacob Penner.

Names. We all have them. Most of them are Jacob, some of them are cardinal directions (I’m looking at you North West), and life as we know it wouldn’t be the same without them. With a new school year underway, we all face the monumental task of distinguishing our Hostetters from our Hochstetlers and awkwardly dismissing our grandparent’s complements of our “good-old Mennonite last name” (#killthemennonitegame).

And if that weren’t enough, the college is giving us the opportunity to rename the hallowed ground that be the Schertz Computer Lab. With such noble titles to select from as “The Pantz Lab” or “The Moon Cave,” I wouldn’t be surprised if the student body’s opinion is never used to make an important campus decision again. Oh wait. (By the way, you got my vote Moon bros!)

Of course, names aren’t restricted to the English language alone. As an environmental science major, I have had the pleasure of memorizing an unhealthy amount of Latin scientific names over the years. Most of them are simple and mundane, like Monarda fistulosa, Porites porites and Jaypee jazzcat, but every now and then I run into a name or two that makes me chuckle.

Take, for example, Turdus migratorius. No, it’s not medical jargon for that wonderful phenomenon we know as pooping, but the scientific name for our beloved robin. That’s right, we distinguished and professional biology-folk had the good wisdom to name a common bird the migratory turd, the traveling bowel, the piece of poop that moves, undoubtedly shaming it for the rest of time. While I imagine this will be tough to digest for any of my robin readers out there, I argue they have earned the name. With all that urgent hopping they do, I think species-wide IBS is an accurate diagnosis.

Such outlandish names are not only unforgettable, they also tell us something about the object they name. I think the college would be wise to consider renaming its buildings in such a style. The library could become Whathappens onthethirdfloor?, the Union would be Toomuchspace thisisnotaunion, and we could call the first floor of the Ad building No transparency. The point is, names like Church Chapel and Miller 1 aren’t as exciting as iPad wednesdays and Greatestfloor greatestfloor. This is all in good fun of course, until we decide to start renaming professors. I’ll let you the readers get that ball rolling though, because that situation could get hairier than a Zach Zimmerman—Sawyer Biddle staring contest.

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