Name games

Tucked into today's story looking deeper into the numbers behind the College of New Caledonia's unexpected budget surplus is a side item that cost CNC time, money and countless headaches during the past year.

In an effort for the college board and CNC president to be transparent with staff, students and area residents, they unveiled their restructuring efforts in a newsletter announcing the 2015-16 Action Plan.

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The plan met with stiff resistance from all sides and it started not with the contents of the plan but with the title. It was called the "One College Plan."

What the board, Reiser and senior management meant was to introduce a plan to get the college working together as one cohesive unit across the region, to eliminate duplication and operate more efficiently to everyone's benefit. In Prince George, the "One College Plan" sounds fantastic.

In Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Mackenzie, Quesnel and Vanderhoof, a "One College Plan" implies the closure or severe reduction of classes and other services at their satellite campuses in favour of "one college" at the main campus in Prince George. While there were cutbacks at each of the satellite campuses to help achieve the cost-cutting and efficiency measures, the plan never called for the outright centralization of college services in Prince George.

The title was just one of the parts of the plan that underwent "rigorous editing and revision," Reiser admitted, as part of an overhaul refurbish of the entire document.

At least CNC changed the name after admitting their plan was poorly named and conveyed the wrong impression. The City of Prince George's community sustainability plan is called MyPG. That's fine, except that each step of the plan had its own name. The community input phase was "...get involved!" MyPG lives on, as the reports are complete and now they're in the implementation stage, which leads to the unfortunate title of "MyPG...in action." Well, there's "in action" and there's "inaction." Both sound the same but convey completely different meanings. Sadly, the name stands on the city's website and in MyPG documents and promotional materials.

Inaction, indeed.

Further afield, there are many great stories about household names that thankfully underwent last-minute name changes. As a 2012 story in The Atlantic magazine explains, Luke Skywalker was actually Luke Starkiller, Indiana Jones was Indiana Smith and Buzz Lightyear was Lunar Larry. A story in Mental Floss revealed that Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings was originally named Bladorthin, Harry Potter's plucky gal pal Hermione Grainger started out with the surname Puckle, and Arthur Conan Doyle thought for a time that the last name of the world's greatest detective should be Sherringford, not Holmes.

Countless entertainment stars have revised names, from Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman), David Bowie (David Jones) and Elton John (Reginald Dwight) to James Garner (James Bumgarner), Tom Cruise (Thomas Mapother) and Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean Baker). Sadly, that was often done to blur the entertainer's ethnic identity. Anthony Benedetto sounds "too Italian" for the business but Tony Bennett doesn't.

In the case of Joanne Rowling, she hid her gender from readers not once but twice. The stuffy sounding "J.K. Rowling" was used to suggest a sturdy, older male, not a single mother on welfare, was the author of a series of kids novels aimed at young boys. Later, as a billionaire, she realized her debut adult detective novel wouldn't be taken seriously coming from the author of the Harry Potter series, so it was first published, to excellent reviews, under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

Even businesses need the right name to be successful. There's the great scene in The Social Network, the movie about how Mark Zuckerberg went from Harvard student to Facebook founder, when Sean Parker informs Zuckerberg that "The Facebook" is too clunky and it should just be Facebook.

Job titles often spark contentious debate. Here at the Citizen, there was a raging debate Wednesday about whether Derek Springall's new business cards should read "classified advertising supervisor" or "classifieds advertising supervisor." The first title suggests Derek works for the CIA but the second title runs into a plural/singular conflict, the equivalent of "used cars salesman."

In the end, Derek doesn't care if you call him late for dinner, just call 562-6666 to book your ad today!

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