Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Offensive Names

Associated Press, Family's License Plates Deemed Offensive:
MERLIN, Oregon (AP) — The state of Oregon has ordered a family to turn in the vanity license plates on its cars because their Dutch last name, which is written on the plates, is similar to an offensive word.

The plates, UDINK1 UDINK2 and UDINK3 are on the vehicles of Mike and Shelly Udink and their son Kalei. Two of the plates are five and seven years old. One was issued last year.

Last summer, Kawika Udink's application for UDINK4 was rejected and the state ordered that the other three plates be returned.

"DINK has several derogatory meanings," Yvonne Bell, who sits on the Department of Motorvehicles panel that approves vanity plates, told the Daily Courier newspaper.

DMV spokesman David House and Bell said the word can be treated as a verb, which gives it a sexual reference, and also can be a racial slur targeted at the Vietnamese.

House said the "U" in the front could be construed as "You."

The DMV denies requests for any combination of letters and numbers that may be viewed as objectionable, in any language, by use of phonetic, numeric or reverse spelling, or when viewed as a mirror image, or that would alarm or offend a reasonable person.

Intimate body parts or sexual or bodily functions are taboo, as are offensive references to race, color, gender, ethnic heritage, or national origin or to alcohol or drugs or paraphernalia.

The panel's ruling surprised Mike Udink, whose name is Dutch. He says it is a common last name in The Netherlands.

"Since when can a panel dictate whether your name's offensive or not?" asked Udink, a lineman for Pacific Power.

House said the state has the right to censor license plates, because the state owns them.
I think that the suffixes -ink and -inga in Dutch names indicate patronymics, so that Udink means nothing more offensive than "son of Udo."

I wonder what the license plate censors of Oregon would think about these names of Japanese prime ministers which suggest "sexual or bodily functions":Gail Hapke at Scribal Terror quotes another blogger as follows:
Montezuma had a nephew named Cuitlahuac, which meant "plenty of poo" or "dry excrement."
Dictionnaire de la langue nahuatl classique lists Cuitlāhuac as both a place name and a personal name, but gives no underlying meaning. On the other hand, the same dictionary defines cuitlahuaquiliztli as "constipation" and cuitlahuaquiztli as "excrément sec." I don't know what connection, if any, these words have with Cuitlāhuac.

Related post: Crappy Names.

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