New Onomastic Realities In Digital Era


The study deals with anthroponymycon issues of internet environment, self-naming process in digital environment. The article describes linguistic characteristics of onyms of virtual environment in the frames of virtual onomastics that includes the internet environment, and works of the fantasy janre. The study focuses on self-presentation and self-realization of a person in the internet space by means of creating of niсkonym. The scientific novelty and originality of the problem is the lack of linguistic principles of nomination and name-composition standards in internet environment. The choice of a computer name is influenced by various extra linguistic factors. There is a symbiosis of languages, cultures and semiotic systems, as well as prevailing Latin graphics. The authors analyze the state of the internet anthroponymycon, its systematization. The classification of empiric material and elaboration of classification of self-naming motivation are suggested. The paper addresses the theoretical issues based on the traditional theory of nomination. It is an initial step in description and creation of a new phenomenon – a virtual anthroponymycon. Thus, a nickname is treated as a name substitution, an artistic fictional image created by a user that is used in a chat and other virtual communications to denote an individual. As a special linguistic phenomenon “nickonym” need to be structured, studied and ruled.



The question of choosing a proper name (which part of speech, word or phrase can serve for this purpose) is related to understanding what object (person, area, subject, idea, etc.) can be used in this way. Here we see the problem of the boundary of its onomastic nomination and its selectivity.

A personal name is an integral part of the personality of every person, it is necessary for the socialization of the individual and for his assimilation into society. Onim is a repository of both individual and social experience of the language collective.

In our opinion, human knowledge is inconceivable without its linguistic identification, and it is impossible to obtain ideas about the nature of its linguistic identification without studying the essence of man. A person realizes him/herself and his/her place in the world, his/her role in practical and cognitive activities, activities that are constantly accompanied by the processes of verbalization and language realization (Zerkina, Kisel, Mikhailov & Lukina, 2018).

Problem Statement

The personal name is a part and parcel of each person identity, it is the required condition for socialization of a person and their assimilation in the society. Onym is the storage of both individual, and social experience of speech community (Kisel & Zarutskaya, 2015).

“The proper name is of special value for each person, it can “store” family values and traditions; positive wishes, spells on future happy life; demonstrate ideology, religion, and just identify the person in a society, in time and space” (Zerkina, 2017, p.214).

Since ancient times Plato and Aristotle were interested in a proper name as a linguistic sign, its systematization and classification that has led to occurring of “Onomastics”. The functional and linguistic peculiarity of proper names has led to occurring of a special section of linguistics – onomastics (from Greek “art to give names”), which describes occurrence and development, functional singularity, essence of proper names in the language.

Such issues as self-presentation of the personality in the internet space, semantic, grammatical and spelling characteristics of nickonym and also moral and ethical motives of artificial naming acquire special importance and relevance at the present stage of onomastics development and active information technology development.

The description of characteristics of the artificial nomimation process in the internet space put forwards such issues as aim of nickonym application, motives of nomination, differentiation of nickname concept and nickonym occurrence.

Issues of a self - naming, personal identification and the artificial nomination in the internet space are widely discussed in works of both domestic, and foreign researchers (Abramova, 2005 ; Babayeva Yu.D., Voyskunsky & Smyslova, 2000; Goroshko, 2007; Crystal, 2001) They also demand detailed studying both from the linguistic, and psychological sides.

The characteristic of the linguistic personality is based on the description of traits that are based on national cultural values. Nicknames, being virtual names, are defined as linguistic and virtual units in virtual space. In our opinion, exactly these linguistic explicators make primary image of the communicative personality defining further communication development. The process of nomination and identification in virtual space is accompanied by formation of the safety modern information communicative environment.

Research Questions

The main challenges of the research are nomination and the self-presentation in the internet that are considered on basis of real space onomasticon. The study of the virtual space onomasticon takes place only in the context of nickname. An integrated approach to studying of personal identification in internet space as the problem of linguo-psychological researches, classification of empirical material hasn't been done yet.

An availability of internet communication and active research of problems of personal self-representation in virtual space has led to the fact that the nickonym became an object of research of different sciences:

The scientific novelty and originality of the supposed problem is defined by the lack of normative linguistic principles of nomination and self-composition standards in internet environment, where there is a symbiosis of languages, cultures and semiotic systems, with prevailing Latin graphics.

Internet communication as a new way of communication demands creation and use of proper names which are presented as a nickname, an analogue of a personal name. The traditional value of the term “nickname” was transformed though the network into pseudonym that is used while communicating in blogs, forums, chats.

The nickname, in his classical definition, unlike a personal onym, as a rule, reflects real properties and qualities of the bearer (often not desirable), based on origin, an occupation, the habitat of the bearer of the nickname. According to the special sense of a nickname, properties and qualities of people around are fixed.

Purpose of the Study

Nicknames are limited nominative units that are always emotionally charged. A linguistic unit that has emotional and component of connotation. Their occurrence is caused by different conditions:

  • appearance (Snub-nosed, Lopoukh),

  • birthplace, lives, death (Chukchi),

  • kind of activity (Woodcutter),

  • traits of character (Avaricious), etc.

Classification of nicknames as linguistic sign with emotional component of connotation can be presented by the following groups:

  • The nicknames having negative assessment of bearer (with deteriorative vocabluary), have poisonous, rough, cruel emotional feature (Жидяго, Балабол, Гоблин);

  • Ironical nicknames, with positive or negative friendly assessment (Кисель, Ляля, Муха);

  • Meliorative nicknames, with pronounced positive assessment (Киса, Милочка, Душенька);

  • The unemotional nicknames which are characterized by lack of an estimated component often it is informal derivatives of a personal name (Лесик, Галчонок).

Nickname in its classical form are self-presentation in the real world that are used in a real communicative situation. Nicknames, unlike nickonyms, are created by community and exist in it. Nicknames belong to "classical" onyms, and, therefore, and follow the law of linguistic system in which they act.

The traditional factors of naming that influence the choice of a name are in detail considered in research of Kisel, (2008) The author gives the factors that influence the choice of a name, that are based on a connotation of a personal name. In this regard there is a possibility of consideration of a personal name from the point of view of connotative aspect of its functioning in the language; in this aspect all factors define the choice of personal names.

The aspiration to avoid difficult, dissonant combinations

Influence on the choice of positive or negative associations, desire to avoid the names which are found in set expressions

Influence of religion, ideology

Giving the name in honor of another person, the family member or celebrity;

Influence of fashion;

Communications of a name with a certain social group;

Desire to give a name that sounds equally in different languages;

Desire to be original

The theoretical analysis of motives of naming and comparison them with motives of the self-presentation in the internet space has shown that the self-naming in internet space allows the person to take any qualities, both positive, and negative.

The nomination in the Internet doesn't follow the linguistic laws of creating a name, the person operates only with the imagination and their desire to be unique.

Nickonym is not a collection of nicknames in traditional understanding, it is a set of symbols (figures, letters of Latin and Cyrillics). In this case, there is a problem of systematization of motives of virtual naming. In a basis of nickonym classification various aspects of motivation are taken into account:

  • Psychological:

    • self-empowerment most often does not coincide with real "I";

    • breaking psychological barriers in real communication;

    • changing of social norms;

    • experimenting with search true "I";

  • Communications that are adaptive to the Internet (a person’s name is based on a subject of a forum or a chat in which they participate);

  • Based on graphic form of a nickonym (ВоВаРУс, Олеся2604, MickebornIN1946)

  • Derivational possibilities of a real personal name (ГАлЧЁнок, Serdjio);

  • Peculiarities of name transliteration from Cyrillics in Latin (Lenusьka, MariLu).

Research Methods

Actual material shows functioning of personal names and modern naming practices. The research material offers 2500 nicknames, which make a selection from web sites (VK, Facebook,; in addition, we used statistics lists from the population register of Magnitogorsk Registry Office. To achieve the goal and solving a number of specific problems we apply descriptive method, etymological method, componential analysis, and method of classification.

To achieve the goal and solve a number of specific problems, a complex methodology was applied (descriptive, etymological, componential analysis, textual, quantitative methods, method of classification etc.).

The textual method involves analysing of antroponymic texts (baptismal address books, registers of Registry Offices, telephone books). This method enabled us to analyse the new forms of names, to highlight basic evaluative affixes, and to compose connotations. Thus, a method of stratigraphical correlations represents the diachronic analysis of personal names with due account for history information of the antroponymicon progress. A statistical method is estimation of the names types and definite components of onyms in some onomastic system, calculation of the percentage ratio of popular names in different speech communities enables researchers to reveal the basic tendencies of the name giving, since the name frequency defines its popularity.

The inventory count method assumes a procedure of identification of personal names; in other words, not each capitalised word is a personal name. Quantitative and qualitative data obtained from these methods will serve as a basis for the name classification.

While studying the antroponymic material, we classified it in accordance with the following grounds:

  • linguistic identity of the name;

  • gender identity;

  • national identity.

The choice of the first two points can integrate our empiric material, since linguistic and gender identity of the name are constant. The national identity is differentiating, since the national uniqueness of onyms arising from language singularity, makes personal names unique linguistic units.


According to the survey of the Internet communication chats, we conclude that the main criterion at a virtual name creation is the desire to make an impression.

The spontaneity and randomness of nickonym creation caused the appearing of the internet programs - generators a nickname. Generally, these programs are based on Latin graphic as the influence of a name in Latin graphic is much stronger, than in Cyrillics.

The motivation and motives of choosing and creating a nickname are very difficult. This is a complex of linguistic means, semantic filling of an onym and psychological characteristics of a namecreater.

This research focuses on a solution to a new scientific challenge: the study of internet antroponymicon from the viewpoint of semantics, pragmatics and intercultural communication. We suppose the further studying the following points:

  • determination and classification of modern trends in the name giving and self-naming processes of the internet environment which can have a positive or negative impact on the person;

  • verification of theoretical and methodological problems of a positive or negative impact on virtual name giving process on students’ personality in the informative internet environment;

  • development of the conception of coordination of virtual names with moral and ethical standards of the language and society; popularization of linguistic/communicative internet-“hygiene” in the youth environment;

  • raising students’ internet literacy among University students.


Active development of internet communication has led to the fact that laws of traditional language communication are modified and demand adaptation to the new virtual reality.

The linguistic identity is transformed and puts forward to a new type of communication processes.

Self-presentation of a person in the internet space demands the analysis and systematization of empirical data. This challenge affects several scientific areas, uniting linguistics, psychology and sociology, this communication isn't casual as it unites ways of being of language and means of communication.

Self-identification of a linguistic personality in the Internet is implemented through a name creation – creation of a new onomastic units - a nickonym.

Self-nomination is a difficult mechanism that consists of verbal and nonverbal ways of nomination. Laws of classical onomastic nomination studies are transformed under nonverbal influence. The social aspect of nomination passes into the background, giving way to connotative characteristics at naming.

Verbal identification of a personality in the virtual world is the complex of graphics, semantics and morphology based only on emotions and desire of a person.

The sociolinguistic experiment has shown that the self-presentation is based on qualitative (lexical "fullness") and estimated (positive and negative characteristics) motivation.

The described specifics of the self-presentation of a member of internet communication (a linguistic image of a nickonym) can't be considered comprehensive as these features are based on emotional characteristics of a person.


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