Nielsen is the company people are talking about when they talk about "ratings." The system is a lot more intricate than I'd thought, which does not mean its very good. Almost every TV, Cable, and advertising agency in America uses their ratings data, even though its not totally accurate. But before they do, it has to go through the MAIL (like, on a truck) on a big TAPE drive to another company (you've never heard of us, trust me). Yes, the files are small enough for email, but they don't do that. Then some poor schmuck -- I won’t name him ;-) but he's on line allot -- takes that tape and does some serious voodoo chicken bone dance bull shit to it, and THEN it goes to every TV station in America.

In other words, for all practical purposes great bulk of the American marketing, advertising, and merchandising industry hangs like a crooked velvet Elvis from a pair of legacy SCSI tape drives (age=[10+years) that I can't get any god damn tech support for.

Nielsen is a name. A surname. A Danish surname. A patronymic.

With 4.8 % of the population as of 1st January 2012, it is the second most common surname in Denmark. Jensen (also 4.8 %) is marginally more common, Hansen (4.0 %) somewhat less.

It means "Niels's son".

The Scandinavian context

Nielsen fills a similar place in the Danish landscape of names to what Nilsson does in Swedish and Nilsen in Norwegian. Those Scandinavian alternatives may be less common but are nevertheless among the top 10 surnames in their respective home countries.

This microcosm of names demonstrates some of the differences in naming conventions in Scandinavia:

  • In Danish names, it is a fairly common practice to add an e for decorative purposes behind a vowel.
  • The Swedes use -son, not -sen, in patronymics.
  • And they maintain the s'es from both parts of the name, where Danes and Norwegians leave one out.

Beyond Scandinavia

The most obvious English parallels may be Nelson and Nicholson.

Worth knowing

Some notable individuals named Nielsen: Carl Nielsen (composer), Asta Nielsen (silent movie actress), Jakob Nielsen (web usability guru).

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