Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, defines proper name in the following way:
"Proper name is a word that answers the purpose of showing what
thing it is that we are talking about, but not of telling anything
This encyclopedia proposes three theories related to proper names
namely Descriptive theory, Referential theory, and Causal theory of
descriptive theory of proper names is the view that the meaning of a
proper name is a set of properties that can be expressed as a description
picking out an object that satisfies the description. According to the
descriptivist theory of meaning, there is a description of the sense of
proper names which picks out the bearer of the name like a definition.
The distinction between the embedded description and the bearer itself
is similar to the distinction between the extension and the intension
of a general term, or between connotation and denotation.
Names serve to identify persons by singling them out from other persons.
As it is stated in Wikipedia, the extension of a general term like
"dog" is just all the dogs that are out there; the extension is what
the word can be used to refer to. The intention of a general term is
basically a description of what all dogs have in common; it's what the
The difficulty with the descriptive theory is what the description
corresponds to. there must be some essential characteristic of the
bearer; otherwise we can use the name and deny the bearer's having such
According to this wikipedia the causal theory of names combines the referential view with the idea that the name's referent is fixed by a baptismal act. Here the name becomes a rigid designator of the referent.
Crystal (1997), called the science that studies names as onomastics
(Greek onomastikos from onoma 'name'), which is usually divided into
the study of personal names (anthroponomastics from Greek anthropos
'human being') and place names (toponomastics from Greek topos
'place'). As he stated, the term onomastics is used to refer to
personal names and toponomastics to place names. He considered this
division an arbitrary one, as places can be named after people (e.g.
Alberta in Canada is named after the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria,
Princess Louise Caroline Alberta) and vice versa (e.g. Israel is also
used as a first name).
Matthews (1997) stated that the special nature of names is often
described in terms of the differences between proper nouns and common
nouns. Proper noun is interpreted here as "the name of a specific
individual or of a set of individuals distinguished only by their
having that name." A common noun, on the other hand, is a name whose
"application is not restricted to arbitrarily distinguished members of
a class." For instance, a goblin or a horse is a common noun that may
be used in reference to any individual characterizable in general as a
goblin or a horse.
Nissilä (1962) defined names in the following way: "names serve to identify persons by singling them out from other persons."
He stated that in most language cultures a (personal) name is
considered to be the essential linguistic label of individuals.
Traditionally, an individual's name is neither arbitrary with regard to
phonetic form nor meaningless.
Kiviniemi (1982) regarded name-giving principles to be, to some
extent, universal phenomena in different language areas, but he also
believed in large cultural differences between the function and use of
personal names in Western language cultures and Eastern traditions.
According to him, not only the name forms and functions but also the
ideas about names and naming might differ from one culture to another.
Strawson (1971) believed that, unlike generic nouns, proper names
are mono-referential. Their main function is to identify an individual
referent. He has claimed that proper names lack descriptive meaning: An
ordinary personal name is, roughly, a word, used to refer to sth/sb,
the use of which is not dictated by any descriptive meaning the word
The Finnish scholar in Onomastics Eero Kiviniemi (1982) and Hanks
and Hodges (1990 ) introduced anthroponymy as an established and
approved system of personal names in every language, which the speakers
of that language easily recognize as conventional names belonging to
the system of ordinary names. According to them proper names are, to
some degree, culturally and linguistically specific although some names
and name forms are universal, which means that one and the same name
(name form) is used in more than one language. For example first names
originating from biblical persons (Christian names) and saints are the
most widespread; other historical persons have been influential too.
According to the Finish scholar Vilkuna (1990) and lomqvist (1993),
from a cultural point of view, names used in literature and names in
general interact with each other to some extent. According to them a
proper name coined for the purpose of a literary piece of work can
affect the popularity and adoption of new names into the calendar, for
example, Wendy as a name from works of literature is occasionally used
for real individuals. This can be illustrated in Persian literature:
names like Sohrab and Esfandiyar.
Blomqvist (1993) believed that in some languages most first names
are gender-specific and thus identify or express the sex of the
referent. There is a sharp conventional distinction between male and
female names, and in some countries it is even forbidden by law give a
female name to a male.
Närhi (1996) denoted the two most important criteria for proper
names which are their uniqueness and that they function as the
identification marks of individuals. In other words, a name signifies
an individual being or has unique reference; it is monoreferential.
Thus, names serve to identify persons by singling them out from among
Kiviniemi (1982) judged the criterion of the uniqueness of personal
names as questionable due to the fact that several different persons
can have not only the same first name but also the same family name.
Consequently, the combination of first name and family name is not a
hundred-percent unique element. As this onomastic scholar pointed out,
the traditional view has been that a first name is more
individualizing, even though some first names are much more common than
many family names. First names are usually regarded as main names;
family names originally belonged to the category of additional names.
First names can still be chosen quite freely whereas we traditionally
receive our family name by inheritance.
He also added that personal names are connected to language use and
according to our general onomastic knowledge. It's not difficult to
distinguish conventional names from common nouns or other proper names
even when they are not within a context. Proper names differ from
common nouns not only orthographically and referentially, but also
morphosyntactically and semantically.
Ullman (1970 ) and Närhi (1996) confirmed that the criterion for
distinguishing between proper names and common nouns is that proper
names identify individual characters, places and institutions whereas
common nouns generically refer to objects or states of affairs or
individual representatives thereof, for example chair(s), elephant(s),
car(s). In other words, proper names individualize and common nouns
classify; for example, chair and stool represent the class 'chair';
they both denote 'a piece of furniture with four legs (usually) made to
sit on'. They defined common nouns as designations for abstract or
concrete things, usually without describing, or ascribing, anything to
the object it denotes, that is, the relationship between signifier and
what is signified is arbitrary, or based on linguistic convention
according to which we understand their meaning.
According to Kiviniemi (1975), the only function of proper names is
identification. Names are linguistic marks that function only according
to their established denotative function (which is the relationship
between the word and the referent). He confirmed that, from this point
of view, names' possible descriptive meaning is totally irrelevant.
Still, if a word is proprialized from a homonymic appellative, the
speaker and the hearer must somehow be able to distinguish them from
each other; otherwise the proper name would lose its function of
identification. (Kiviniemi 1975.)
Yvonne Bertills (2004) stated that just like objects, artifacts and
domestic animals, it is difficult for individual beings to exist
without some kind of identifying label such as a name. In her idea
although names are carefully considered before being chosen for the
name-bearer, a proper content or effect of the name on the name-bearer
is not as significant later.
Regarding features of the actual cultural origin of personal names,
Yvonne Bertills (2004) think it is not always easy, or even relevant,
to find out the exact origin or of the development of names culturally
and linguistically. On the other hand, she noted that the phonetic form
of a name determines and limits the name to be culturally specific and
she confirmed that names are rather easily associated with certain
cultures; for example, as she illustrated, Eric with English, Erik
(from Eerik) with Swedish and Erkki with Finnish. According to her,
naming or the necessity of naming is a universal characteristic of most
Nord (2003) defined name as the word(s) by which an individual
referent is identified, that is to say, the word(s) whose main function
is/are to identify, for instance, an individual person, animal, place,
or thing. She continues by stating that in this sense, names possess a
certain deictic quality in that they point directly to a single,
concrete referent; however, sometimes they may also acquire a semantic
load which takes them "beyond the singular mode of signification."
Therefore, names are viewed as mono-referential—they refer to a single
entity—but not as mono-functional, since they may function as carriers
of semantic, semiotic, and/or sound symbolic meanings in literary
works. Nord (2003) has pointed out just a quick glance at translated
texts can reveal that translators do all sorts of things with names;
such as substitute, transcribe and omit them.
In highlighting the problems concerning the translation of names,
scholars like Davies (2003) usually subsume the issue under a
discussion of culture-specific references, where names are seen as
culture-specific items (CSIs) and as such are approached in terms of
the complexity of translating cultural patterns. Nord believes that
although the issue of cultural specificity in the translation of names
is undeniable, there are also other aspects of names that should be
considerere when translating them.
Christiane Nord (2003) also stated that in the real world, proper
names may be non-descriptive, but they are obviously not
non-informative: If we are familiar with the culture in question, a
proper name can tell us whether the referent is a female or male person
(Alice—Bill), maybe even about their geographical origin within the
same language community or their age. She explained this by stating
that some people name their new-born child after a pop star or a
character of a film that happens to be fasionable.
Regarding geographical names, she stated that they often have
specific forms in other languages (exonyms), which may differ not only
in pronunciation, but also with respect to morphology and lexical
entities. According to her some are translated literally and other back
to ancient Latin forms.
Nord (2003) considered no specific rule for the translation of
proper names. She argues that in non-fictional texts, it seems to be a
convention to use the target-culture exonym of a source-culture name,
if there is one, but if a translator prefers to use the source-culture
form, she is free to do so as long as it is clear to what place does
the name refer to. Nord stated that in this way perhaps the audience
will think that the translator is showing off her knowledge. She
acknowledged that wherever the function of the proper name is limited
to identifying an individual referent, the main criterion for
translation will be to make this identifying function work for the
Regarding translation of proper names in fiction Nord (2003),
maintained that in fiction, things are not quite as simple as it may
seem. We have assumed that in fictional texts there is no name that has
no informative function at all. According to her, if this information
is explicit, as in a descriptive name, it can be translated—although a
translation may interfere with the function of a culture marker. If the
information is implicit, however, or if the marker function has
priority over the informative function of the proper name, she
maintained that this aspect will be lost in the translation, unless the
translator decides to compensate for the loss by providing the
information in the context.
She insisted that there are proper names that exist in the same form
both in the source and the target culture. But this causes other
problems: The character changes "nationality" just because the name is
pronounced in a different way. She illustrated this by the case of
English Richard which thus turns into a German Richard, and a French
Robert into an English Robert—which may interfere with the consistency
of the setting if some names are "bicultural" and others are not. Nord
stated an example of a little comic strip which she translated with her
students in the Spanish-German translation class, the two characters,
brothers, are called Miguelito and Hugo. Nord urged that if we leave
the names as they are, Miguelito will be clearly recognizable as a
Spanish boy in the translation, whereas Hugo may be identified as a
German. Then she suggested that in order to avoid the impression that
this is a bicultural setting, the translator would have to either
substitute Miguelito by a clearly German name or replace Hugo by a
typical Spanish name, depending on whether the text is intended to
appeal to the audience as "exotic" or "familiar."
She considered this kind of problem very common in the translation
of children's books, especially if there is a pedagogical message
underlying the plot. A story set in the receiver's own cultural world
allows for identification, whereas a story set in a strange, possibly
exotic world may induce the reader to stay "at a distance."
Nord also explained the role of descriptive names in fiction.
According to her, apart from names typically denoting a particular kind
of referent, like pet names, the authors of fictions sometimes use
names which explicitly describe the referent in question ("descriptive
names"). She exemplified this by a case in a Spanish novel in which the
protagonist is called Don Modesto or Doña Perfecta. As she stated the
readers will understand the name as a description of the character,
since Don is an honorific title.
Nord also discussed about cultural makers in fiction. She stated
that in some cultures, there is the convention that fictional proper
names can serve as "culture markers," i.e., they implicitly indicate to
which culture the character belongs. In German literature, as her
example, if a woman called Joséphine appears in a story with a plot set
in Germany, she will automatically be assumed to be French. On the
contrary, in Spanish literature, proper names are more generally
adapted to Spanish morphology.
Nord (2003) stated that there are times when copy cannot be
interpreted as a procedure based on adequacy in the case of
"bicultural" names where the same name form exists in both source and
target cultures (e.g. Portuguese: Jane, English: Jane). Moreover, in
the case of transcription, there are names that, despite being
transcribed in order to conform to the phonological and morphological
conventions of the target language, continue sounding alien to the
target audience and recognized as not belonging to the target cultural
setting. Therefore, an effect of adequacy may be achieved by either
preserving a foreign name, or by creating a new name not present in the
source text, and while the addition of some explicit clarification of a
name may make the target text more accessible, so may the deletion of
this particular name. In view of this, Davies (2003) has already
observed that there seems to be no clear correlation between the use of
a particular procedure and the degree of adequacy or acceptability
obtained in the target text.
From the translational perspective, Hermans (1988) broadly divided
names into two categories (i) conventional names and (ii) loaded names.
Conventional names are those seen as 'unmotivated' for translation,
since they apparently do not carry a semantic load; their morphology
and phonology do not need to be adapted to that of the target language
system; or perhaps because they have acquired an international status.
Loaded names, which are those seen as 'motivated' for translation,
range from faintly 'suggestive' to overtly 'expressive' names and
nicknames. They include those fictional and non-fictional names in
which historical and cultural inferences can be made on the basis of
the 'encyclopedic knowledge' available to the interlocutors of a
particular culture. The distinction between them is one of degree:
expressive names link with the lexicon of the language. The semantic
load of the expressive names is more in evidence than in the case of
suggestive' names. Hermans (1988), introduced at least four ways of
rendering names from one language into another: They can be copied,
i.e. reproduced in the target text exactly as they were in the source
text. They can be transcribed, i.e. transliterated or adapted on the
level of spelling, phonology, etc. A formally unrelated name can be
substituted in the target text for any given name in the source text.
And insofar as a name in a source text is enmeshed in the lexicon of
that language and acquires 'meaning', it can be translated. (Hermans
Hermans goes on to explain that various combinations of these "modes
of transfer" are possible and that deletion of a source-text name or
the insertion of a new one is also a possible translation procedure.
These different ways of translating names are interpreted by Hermans in
terms of the relationship between Target Text (TT) and Source Text (ST)
along two poles of a continuum: adequacy vs. acceptability. According
to Toury (1995), a translation is termed adequate when the translator
makes an attempt to follow source rather than target linguistic and
literary norms. On the other hand, a translation is termed acceptable
when the translator has adhered to those norms of the target system. In
this respect, Toury enlightened that when translators copy a foreign
name into the TL text they are apparently privileging adequacy, and
when they transcribe or substitute a foreign name in the translated
text they are apparently favoring acceptability.
Concerning the translation of proper names Newmark (1988) stated
that, they are normally transferred in order to preserve nationality,
assuming the proper names have no connection to the text.
Newmark pointed that regarding names that have connotations in
imaginative literature like comedies, allegories, fairy tales and some
children's stories, procedure of translation should be taken into
account, unless nationality is important as in folk tales.
If both nationality and connotation of proper name is important,
Newmark suggested that at first the name should be translated into
target language then the translated word should be naturalized into a
new proper name.
Verónica Albin (2003) in her article with the title of "what is in a
name" stated that if a translator wants his target language text to be
accepted and understood by its readers, he must behave in accordance
with what is expected and meaningful in the target culture. She, in her
studying proper names, wanted to be able to write a prescriptive
article offering solutions for translation of proper names. What she
found, instead, were not rules, but conventions. According to her
conventions are arbitrary, in the sense that in other times, another
behavior could well have been the norm. Conventions are also
diachronically interchangeable, because sometimes fads overlap. She
stated that this explains why we may find two texts in Spanish
published around the same time, one referring to the author of Das
Kapital as Carlos Marx and the other as Karl Marx.
She also explicated that for a very long time it had been
fashionable to translate proper names in order to 'naturalize' them;
but as, according to her, the current trend in most Western languages,
perhaps due to the immediacy of global communication, is to not
Albin (2003) continued by stating that for rendering names into
target language, the translator should find out all of the ideas
associated with the name in the source-language culture. Failing to do
so could have serious consequences. She illustrated such carelessness
on the part of a translator by an example: German Chancellor Helmut
Kohl compared Gorbachov to Goebbels," and the English translator for
Newsweek—thinking that his audience would not necessarily know who
Goebbels was—added that 'he was one of those responsible for the crimes
of the Hitler era'" (Newsweek .1986). The political repercussions were
immediate, and the Russians swiftly canceled German Minister
Albert Peter Vermes (2003), in his article entitled "proper name in
translation" demonstrated that contrary to popular views, the
translation of proper names is a non-trivial question, and it is
closely related to the problem of the meaning of the proper name.
In his research regarding translation of proper names particularly
from English into Hungarian, Peter Vermes first he introduced four
basic operations for translating a proper name: transference,
translation proper, substitution and modification. The paper presents a
case study, which attempt to explain the treatment of proper names in
the translation of J. F. Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans. His
analysis is based on the assumption that translation is a special form
of communication, aimed at establishing interpretive resemblance
between the source text and the target text. The findings seem to
confirm the claim that proper names behave in a largely predictable way
in translation: the particular operations chosen to deal with them are
a function, partly, of the semantic content they are loaded with in the
source context and, partly, of considerations of how this content may
be preserved in the target communication situation, including elements
like the specific audience, intertextual relationships and translation
Lincoln Fernandes (2006), in his paper about translating names
discusses the translation of names in children's fantasy literature and
highlights the importance of names in translating this particular text
type. First, he defines what it is meant by "names" and attempts to
present some of the most important types of "meanings" usually conveyed
by names. Then, he discusses the issue of readability in the
translation of these narrative elements. Next, building on Hermans's
(1988) ways of rendering names from L1 to L2, it offers a
classification of ten translation procedures that were identified in
the Portuguese-English Parallel Corpus of Children's Fantasy
Literature, namely PEPCOCFL.
The following is a set of ten procedures in the translation of names proposed by Lincoln Fernandes (2006):
This is a "coincidental" procedure and is used when the name is
transparent or semantically motivated and is in standardized language,
that is, when the name in a source text is trapped in the lexicon of
that language, thus acquiring "meaning" should be rendered in the
He confirmed that his procedure bears resemblance to Vinay and
Darbelnet's (1995) concept of "borrowing" as the simplest type of
translation. In this procedure, the names are reproduced in the
translated text exactly as they appear in the source text without
suffering any sort of orthographic adjustment. From a phonological
perspective, however, Nord (2003) points out that these names often
acquire a different pronunciation in the TL. For example, in the name
Artemis, which is the name of the Greek Goddess of Hunt, the stress is
placed on the second syllable in Brazilian Portuguese [ar'temis] and on
the first syllable in British English ['a:temIs]. Therefore, despite
being copied, these names often acquire a different character in the
Fernandes (2006) described this as a procedure in which an attempt
is made to transcribe a name in the closest-sounding letters of a
different target alphabet. In other words, this procedure occurs when a
name is transliterated or adapted at the level of morphology,
phonology, grammar, etc., usually to conform to the target language
system. In this procedure the translator may suppress, add, and changed
the position of letters, probably as a way to preserve the readability
of the text in the TL context.
Fernandes (2006) stated that in this type of procedure, a formally
and/or semantically unrelated name is a substitute in the target text
for any existent name in the source text. In other words, the TL name
and the SL name exist in their respective referential worlds, but are
not related to each other in terms of form and/or semantic significance.
This type of procedure consists of recreating an invented name in
the SL text into the TL text, thus trying to reproduce similar effects
of this newly-created referent in another target cultural setting.
Fernandes (2006) noted that recreation differs from substitution in the
sense that in recreation the lexical item does not exist in the SL or
in the TL.
Fernandes considered this procedure as rather a drastic way of
dealing with lexical items, but even so it has been often used by
According to him deletion (Ø) as a translation procedure involves
removing a source-text name or part of it in the target text. It
usually occurs when such names are apparently of little importance to
the development of the narrative, and are not relevant enough for the
effort of comprehension required for their readers.
Fernandes considered this procedure as the one in which extra
information is added to the original name, making it more
comprehensible or perhaps more appealing to its target audience.
Sometimes it is used to solve ambiguities that might exist in the
translation of a particular name.
This procedure is defined as the replacement of one word class with
another without changing the meaning of the original message. Fernandes
(2006) stated that for Chesterman (1997), this procedure also involves
structural changes, "but it is often useful to isolate the word-class
change as being of interest in itself"
9- Phonological Replacement
Fernandes (2006) defined this as a procedure in which a TT name
attempts to mimic phonological features of a ST name by replacing the
latter with an existing name in the target language which somehow
invokes the sound image of the SL name being replaced. He notified that
phonological Replacement must not be confused with transcription. The
latter involves adaptation of a SL name to the phonology/morphology of
a target language while the former involves the replacement of a SL
name with a TL name which is phonemically/graphologically analogous to
Alexander Kalashnikov (2006) in his article with the title of
"proper names in translation of fiction" considered the minimum
function of personal names to be nominal; and stated that some
designation must be affixed to a person. He paid attention to the
formal attributes of proper names which can play an important role in
literature by evoking, for example, an epoch, social status, or
nationality of the characters. According to him in translation, proper
names are usually given in their original spelling, or if they are to
be rendered into the language with another script, they are
transliterated. He pointed out that along with their nominal function,
given names and family names often perform a descriptive or
characterizing function. Such meanings are an integral part of the
total meaning in many books.
Alexander Kalashnikov (2006) defined charactonyms or significant
names as names performing a characterizing function. According to him
if names in a literary work have such functions, it is better to
translate the functions in some way, but unfortunately they are often
ignored even in the translations of outstanding works by Dickens
According to him the tradition of transliterating (or transcribing
in the same alphabet) proper names in literature may be explained by
the wish to keep the nominal function simple, to transmit the
nationality of the character, and to avoid excessive expressive
coloring which can give the name a nuance of a nickname. At the same
time if a personal name characterizes its bearer, the
expressive-and-stylistic function may dominate the nominal one.
Kalashnikov (2006) defined the common stem as one of the signs of a
characteronym. According to him a common stem is a part of a name or an
entire name that resembles in its form an "ordinary" word: Smith
(smith—a worker in metal), Sawders (sawder—flattery, blarney), Hennie
(henny—hen-like). If this common stem characterizes (conveys attributes
to) the bearer of the name, the stem becomes a significant (=
meaningful) element of the name and this name may be called a
He stated that the presence of a common stem itself does not
necessarily imply the presence of a characteristic meaning. The
relevance of the significant element must be suggested by means of
motivators. He defined motivator as a part of text,
expressing by the means of synonyms, homonyms, confusables, and words
with similar semantic fields resemblance with the meanings of a
morpheme or morphemes of the proper name and giving the name its
characterizing function. The example which Kalashnikov (2006)
illustrated for this was the family name of Mr. Parakeet, an incidental
character in the novel by E. Waugh Decline and Fall, the motivator is
"By half-past two the house was quiet; at half-past three Lord
Parakeet arrived, slightly drunk and in the evening clothes, having
'just escaped less than one second ago' from Alastair Trumpington's
twenty-first birthday party in London...
Parakeet walked round bird-like and gay, pointing his thin white
nose and making rude little jokes at everyone in turn in a shrill,
Kalashnikov (2006) divided motivators into two groups, explicit
and implicit. He explained that the explicit motivators are usually
situated in a narrow context and are expressed either with a word or a
word combination. Rather stable motivators can be the words pointing to
the resemblance in appearance: "little Mr. Finch" (motivator little for
the family name Finch); "what wrath Mr. Scowler, was in" (motivator
wrath for the family name Scowler (scowl)); ethical qualities:
"autocrat Driver" (motivator autocrat for the family name Driver);
position or rank: "general Goodwin" (motivator general for the family
name Goodwin (a good win).
Kalashnikov (2006) expressed that the implicit motivator
characterizes a person on the basis of a broader context. He
illustrated charactonym with an implicit motivator by an example of the
family name of Grimes from "Decline and Fall" by E. Waugh. The school
teacher, Captain Grimes, who symbolizes moral degradation, hard
drinking, and ill breeding, is given the family name with a stem
grime—"a surface of thick black dirt." He is always drunk because he
lost his leg when he was run over by a tram. This character is not
given a clearly and compactly expressed characteristic by any specific
word or pun with his name, but from a broader context you can size him
up and compare him with dirt that is impossible to get rid of.
Kalashnikov (2006) reported that charactonym can have clearly
different shades of meaning in contexts within the same book. Thus, a
charactonym has no absolutely permanent characteristic meaning. Rather
such names express a semantic continuum, and to translate them properly
is a tough challenge. But motivators allow one to find the main
characteristic dominating others, while still allowing ambiguity.
Kalashnikov gave details of four types of charectonyms:
1) Names whose significant element does not have a stylistically
colored significant element, i.e., a connotation defined with
expressive terms such as derogatory, colloquial, etc., e.g., "Parakeet."
2) Expressive-and-characteristic names, which are with a
stylistically colored significant element: "Scribbler" (the common noun
scribbler is marked in "Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English" as
derogatory or humorous):
An academician who is incompetent to understand the meaning and
value of a literary work may write a treatise titled, 'A Comparative
Study of the Use of the Comma in the Literary Works of Otto Scribbler
3) Intersemantisizing names whose motivators become other names from
the narrow context. In this case closely situated common stems create a
certain semantic field and become motivators to each other. The names
concretize descriptive meanings, evoke the semantics of each other and
consequently become relevant for translation even without any other
context. Kalashnikov (2006) considered these as different kinds of
enumerations: "Sauerkraut" (sauerkraut), "Broccoli" (broccoli),
"Articiocchi" (artichoke) that create a semantic field of "vegetables":
"Marry, indeed am I, my gracious liege—the poor Lord Spinachi once,
the humble woodman these fifteen years syne—ever since the tyrant
Padella (may ruin overtake the treacherous knave!) dismissed me from my
post of First Lord." ...
The acquaintance Her Majesty showed with the history and noble families of her empire was wonderful. "The House of Broccoli should remain faithful to us," she said; "they were ever welcome at our Court. Have the Articiocchi, as was their wont, turned to the Rising Sun? The family of Sauerkraut must sure be with us—they were ever welcome in the halls of King Cavolfiore."
4) Finally, expressive names that are expressive in terms of their
lexical meanings but have no motivators—for example, "Blunt" may be
defined as a person "obtuse in understanding or discernment," a fool.
However, such names must be treated as conditional or quasi
charactonyms until they are justified by the context in literary works.
Kalashnikov (2006) expressed that in real life it is not correct to
associate the lexical meaning of an expressively colored family name
with its bearer. If the meaning of an expressive name is not reinforced
by a motivator, we may assume that the meaning is at least somewhat
less important than it would be otherwise and that its translation is
At the end of his paper, Kalashnikov (2006) discussed the strategies
used in translating such functional names. There are eight types of
- Usual equivalent;
- Usual equivalent with irrelevant coloring;
- Occasional equivalent;
- Occasional equivalent with irrelevant coloring;
- Equivalent with s changed characteristics;
- Equivalent with a changed characteristics and irrelevant coloring;
- Irrelevant equivalent;
- Irrelevant equivalent with irrelevant coloring.
Bertills (2004) pointed that the traditional viewpoints of proper
names have defined names as including denotative meaning but not
"Proper names are not connotative: they denote the individuals
who are called by them; but they do not indicate or imply any
attributes as belonging to those individuals. When we name a child by
the name "Paul" or a dog by the name "Caesar," these names are simply
marks used to enable those individuals to be made subjects of
Regarding conventional personal names, Yvonne Bertills (2004)
pointed that the consideration of signifier-signified is somewhat
simplified: as proper names are usually considered to be meaningless,
there is a direct relationship between the sign (signifier) and the
referent, without the level of concept (signified). That is, the
signifier does not evoke any idea (signified) of the referent. Bertills
stated that according to the onomastic scholars since a proper name is
a sign formed according to the phonetic criteria of individual
languages, it contains a sign, which transparently denotes a referent.
Bertills continues by pointing out that the question concerns whether
the name also contains a concept level
Yvonne Bertills (2004) stated that the situation of literary proper
names will be different due to the fact that the narrative affects not
only the relationship between the signifier and what it actually
signifies but also the relationship between the sign and the referent.
If we consider meaning in purely linguistic terms, the lexical meaning
of a word can be defined as the idea or the concept that the word
brings to mind or that is connected to it.
According to her many of the proper names in literature are formed,
or selected, taking the characteristics of the name-bearer in mind. In
addition to acknowledging the fact that a name in literature denotes an
individual being, its connection to the lexicon supplies direct
meanings in the literary context. Studying the morphological and
syntactic form of the name in its context will supply information about
the criteria of and the intended functions in the literary context.
Yvonne Bertills (2004), proposed the following categorization regarding proper names in fiction:
- Conventional personal names, including first names and/or family
names that belong to the general anthroponomy. This category includes
only names that are found as such in the general name register and
which cannot be defined as suggesting any characteristic traits of the
She made a distinction between completely conventional names and
modified conventional names which refers to names that are clearly
derived from conventional names (first names or family names). These
are names which include elements that can be transparently traced back
to ordinary names, or whose orthographic form is modified from
- Invented names or coined names which are semantically loaded and
are formed or invented for the purpose of a certain narrative context.
Most of these names are clearly or unclearly semantically loaded, or
have a clearly discernable origin. In this regard, Raivo (2001)
distinguishes between invented or names derived from other words and
imaginary names. She used the term imaginary names with reference to
names that have no transparent semantic content, that is, they do not
include already existing word forms. They are still coined for a
specific narrative context.
- Classic names (also historical, universal or literary names)
contain a universal content, that is, the name is associated with
certain characteristics independently of cultural or linguistic
context. For instance, the classic names of literary characters Hamlet.
She stated that these are not conventional and do not have any
Yvonne Bertills (2004) considers conventional proper names to partly
suggest a kind of meaning for the name bearer in terms of their
cultural belonging; the name form may already cast some light on the
age of the name-bearer. As she stated, it is true that when an ordinary
conventional personal name appears in isolation, it does not have any
meaning in the same way that a common noun does, yet it still awaken
certain ideas about the referent's cultural belonging and sex in our
mind providing we have the relevant knowledge of the world, social and
cultural background and experience. If already familiar with the
referent, and also within a specific communication context (which gives
further contextual information), a name will automatically be more
charged with meanings. She concluded that for the consideration of the
semantics of personal names the knowledge of the world and the
knowledge of language are two separate concepts, which are also largely
John R. Searle (1958) argued that reference by means of proper names
includes the use of descriptive information about the referent. In
other words, for conventional names, the context is the supplier of
meanings, whereas the name only denotes the referent.
According to him for names in literature, the context will have
further implications on the consideration of meaning and names.
Although the context supplies information about the referent, it will
never affect the denotative relationship between some proper names and
their referents. In this regard Nikolajeva (1998), mentioned the
example of Tarzan or Robinson which are literary characters and also
the symbols for certain behavior. According to him, changes on a time
scale must also be acknowledged and considered as the meaning of names
is involved not only with language and words but also with world
knowledge in general.
Sciarone (1968) noted that in some respects, the aspect of time is
also relevant for the consideration of the content of names, which
means that the information that is supplied about the referent changes
and develops over time. This is partly true for personal names; the
more we get to know about a particular person, the more the information
or descriptions affect the way we respond to that particular proper
name in the future. He stated that this is evident in the names of
famous persons, which—although the original referent is dead and
buried—have become 'concepts', and which are always associated with
certain characteristics or certain behavior in any context, for
example, Hitler. In this regard Hanks and Hodges (1996) pointed out
that not only historical persons, but also literature and movies may
produce such names.
Kiviniemi (1982) stated that many ordinary names have had meaning in
the language of origin, but since they enter into new languages and
cultures over the years, the original meanings are gradually lost.
Kiviniemi clarified his statement by an example of a female name:
Maria. Maria has originally meant "awaited child." The original meaning
of this name is not significant today.
Kiviniemi (1982) considered two functions of proper names: first, to
distinguish the individual and second, to function as a kind of magnet
for other meanings. Kiviniemi also declared that the scope of meaning
in common nouns is wider and more general, whereas the characteristics
of proper names are narrowed down to more specific characteristics. On
a pragmatic level, he stated, one needs more information to understand
the meaning (who and what the referent is like) of a proper name,
whereas one understands common nouns by convention.
Kiviniemi (1982) acknowledged that a name may be completely
transparent on the level of word semantics but may have various
meanings from the point of view of name semantics. In other words, name
elements can be completely understood from a lexical point of view but
unless considered in relation to the denoted referent, the name-giving
or name-selection criteria are not clarified. Kiviniemi pointed that
the relationship between a name and a referent is usually called
denotation; the name element means or equals its referent, and nothing
Andersson (1994) discussed the semantic aspects of personal names.
According to him an examination of personal names in terms of
linguistic signs is necessary when considering the possible meanings or
semantic contents of a proper name.
As Andersson (1994) emphasized, proper names constitute three
components of meaning: 1) identification (essential component), 2)
underlying appellative meaning (optional component) and 3) associative
content (self-evident consequence when knowledge of the name-bearer).
Andersson regarded the associative content connected to the referent,
not to the name element. He made a clear difference between what we can
define as the meaning of a proper name and other lexemes, for instance
As the Finnish scholar Eeva Maria Närhi (1996) pointed, historical
proper names are compared to symbols of their bearers, for example,
Judas is the symbol of betrayer; so that if a person is referred to as
'being a Judas,' the meaning of the name and the comparison will be
quite clear to everybody. In other words, there is nothing in the name
form that motivates the meaning betrayer. A symbolic relationship is
based on a convention between the signifier and the signified. She
stated that from this point of view, many names in literary contexts
are iconic as they often uphold a motivated relationship with its
referent, for instance, names containing onomatopoetic or descriptive
In addition to all what the scholars stated, Yvonne Bertills (2004)
considered names as a largely a terminological question. According to
her, the study of names and meaning is often largely a question of
terminology and definitions, for instance, lexical meaning, contextual
meaning, connotation, and information content.
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by Samira Mizani
Fars Science and Research Azad University, Iran
article was originally published at http://accurapid.com/journal/toc.htm