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Naming something after yourself: a grand display of egomania, or the humble willingness to be overshadowed by your own product?
Stationery expert James Ward tells the tale of the people who begat the eponymous ballpoint pens Bic and Biro, because, according to 99% Invisible's Roman Mars, "When it comes to word origins, an eponym is the shortest bet you’re going to get a good story out of it."
- Eponyms are swarming all over the place! Particularly when it comes to medical terms, about which there are lots of good little stories about the latter at Whonamedit? Looks like some of those eponymizers are very high achievers.
- You can read James Ward's delightful book Adventures in Stationery (AKA The Perfection of the Paperclip in some territories), and/or you can read about James Ward and his book to whet your appetite.
- Learn more about Thomas 'Bowdlerization' Bowdler. Also listener Mededitor shared this post about bowdlerized Shakespeare.
- Here's a brief history of pens; here's a slightly longer history of pens; and here's the picture dictionary version of the corporate history of Bic.
- Here's a transcript of this episode.
- Here's Roman's tweet that started this whole thing.
If you were creating an eponymous product, what would it be? Mine would be something which doesn't work until the very last minute, just before you throw it away in frustration.
For the next month, there will be new Allusionists every week, each featuring another Radiotopian. If you love Radiotopia's shows and want to help the collective be great, STAY TUNED. Radiotopia needs you. Visit radiotopia.fm on 19th October to find out how you can be involved.
MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
- Roman Mars is El Groso of Radiotopia. Find him at twitter.com/romanmars, and 99% Invisible at 99pi.org.
- James Ward is El Groso of Boring Conference. Find him at twitter.com/iamjamesward.com and at iamjamesward.com. And in case you've already forgotten from where I linked to it above, you can buy his book Adventures in Stationery.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. Thanks to Martin Austwick for the music and editorial help, and to Seth and Alison for letting me and Roman record in their Wendy House.
- Communicate with me at facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman.
Come back in a week's time for the next Radiotopial special edition of the Allusionist. If you don't, I'll borrow your pen and not return it.
The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.