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    Salish Sea gets more recognition

    This time, from scholars who study names and naming.
    All of the inland waters of Washington and British Columbia comprise the Salish Sea.

    All of the inland waters of Washington and British Columbia comprise the Salish Sea. Washington Department of Ecology

    The American Name Society — yeah, I didn't know there was such a thing either — has picked the Salish Sea as "Place Name of the Year." The group is devoted to the study of onomastics, "names and their place in society." The group announces their "Names of the Year" in several categories at their annual national conference in January.

    The names tend to reflect news and trends in America and Canada, and the Salish Sea qualifies as interesting for a number of reasons. One, the designation was a significant naming event in both countries. It also represents a trend toward recognizing indigenous peoples, in this case even more interesting because the term Salish describes a language group. Last year's place name winner was also from the Great Nearby: Wasilla, made a household word during the 2008 presidential campaign.

    In other categories, Twitter was selected as "Trade Name of the Year," Max as "Fictional Name of the Year" (after the main character in Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are); Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III was voted "Personal Name of the Year,"and H1N1 was picked for a special award.

    Last year, the trade names picked were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the fictional name was Edward (from the teen vampire in Twilight, the fictional book and film series sent on the Olympic Peninsula), and the personal name was Barack Hussein Obama.

    Knute Berger is Mossback, Crosscut's chief Northwest native. He also writes the monthly Grey Matters column for Seattle magazine and is a weekly Friday guest on Weekday on KUOW-FM (94.9). His newest book is Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes On Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice, published by Sasquatch Books. In 2011, he was named Writer-in-Residence at the Space Needle and is author of Space Needle, The Spirit of Seattle (2012), the official 50th anniversary history of the tower. You can e-mail him at mossback@crosscut.com.

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