Friday, 31 July 2015

My Name Is Sue. How Do You Do! (Names and Identity)

an article by Irina Perianova (University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria) published in Issues in Social Sciences Volume 3 Number 1 (2015)


The paper aims to give an overview of the functions of proper names as a complex multi-dimensional phenomenon. While implying certain conceptual characteristics proper names reflect the way people see themselves, or what others might infer about them, and thus shapŠµ their attitude.

As part of the cultural discourse they serve as determinants of social identity. An important feature of personal names is their potential to be used metaphorically – as characterizers and signifiers. Naming conventions depend on culture, generation, status and existing linguistic forms. Avoiding a name as a form of address is culture-based, or expresses attitude and affect. Furthermore, names are an instrument of control, submission and otherisaton.

They are also a marker of memory and trust as well as a signifier of status. The disparity of addressing when, for example, one of the speakers uses the first name and the other one the surname, always implies some kind of inequality.

The drift of the current changes in naming/addressing in the West is egalitarian and characterized by greater informality and reciprocity.

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