The paper is dedicated to functioning and semantization of proper names and nicknames in a literary text as exemplified by the novel
Keywords: Personal namenicknameimagerysemantic motivation
Human-centered paradigm of the modern linguistics sees literary text as one of the main objects of research, where a person is revealed within the limits of linguistic worldview and and within the linguistic personae of both author and their characters. The new contemporary Russian prose is not an exception, as seen in works of A.Ivanov, D. Bykov, E. Vodolazkin, Z. Prilepin, V. Sorokin and others (as cited in Ivanov, 2014; Iartseva, 1990).
It appears that in authorial prose, in literary texts, personal names merit one's attention in the aspect of lexical semantics and semiotics from the point of view of symbolism, as well as in the linguo-culturological aspect.
Statement of some linguists that proper names do not express concepts draw objections from other linguists, trying to prove their link to the category of concept. For example, Buslaev (1959) believed that proper names are capable of expressing concepts and in that regard noted: “Proper names with which we mark an indivisible representation are actually the same general concepts as generic names” (p. 15). This point of view was shared by Shcherba (2004), who was speaking of obligatory content-related minimum, without which functioning of the proper name in speech is impossible: “This minimum is a concept, which this object substantiates, with a general notion that it is not just any object substantiated to this concept, but a certain definite one” (p. 53).
Of interest is O. Jespersen's observation in his
Professor Superanskaia (2009) develops an idea that proper names show higher dependency on extralinguistic factors. She maintains that in proper names a nominative function dominates: “to name with the aim of distinguishing objects of a similar type from each other, in opposite to common names, whose main function is to name with the aim of transmitting a meaning, connotate” (Superanskaia, 2009, p. 57). The same idea may be traced in writings of Lotman (2000), who thought that the general meaning of a proper name designates an object to which this name is attached, at that, it is not characterized with any differential attributes.
Speaking about the question of status of proper names in the modern linguistics, they are defined as naming lexical units, which are simultaneously designating units, and thus connotative ones. For example, English linguist Gardiner (1954) proposed the following definition: A proper name is a word or group of words which is recognized as having identification as its specific purpose, and which achieves, or tends to achieve that purpose by means of its distinctive sound alone, without regard to any meaning possessed by that sound from the start, or acquired by it through association with the object or objects thereby identified. According to his point of view, a mandatory requirement to consider a word as a proper name, such a unit shall be a fact of language, and not that of speech.
Definitions of proper name are given in various linguistic dictionaries. The
Among the naming categories, nicknames represent a significant part of anthroponym vocabulary and are understood as “additional name given to a person by people around in accordance with their characteristic feature, life circumstances or some kind of analogy” (Podolskaia, 1988, p. 20). According to Telia (1977), nicknames are units of secondary linguistic nomination and as a rule they are based upon nominative means already known in the language, but used in a function new to them. As a result, nicknames may explicate occasional usage, conventional meaning, consolidated by a certain social group, contain various allusions (Telia, 1977). For example, the nickname
Nickname nomination is usually determined by connotation. Professor A.L. Sharandina believes that attitudinal meaning is formalized by two ways: 1) “information about attitude is included into the lexical meaning”. Cf.: nicknames like
In other words, secondary nomination has an associative nature, related to already known meaning of the name and its reinterpretation. Nicknames are related to metaphorization, i.e., “a method of reinterpretation on the basis of similarity or analogy of attributes in the conceptual reflection of the signified object and in the significate of the word being reinterpreted” (Serebrennikov & Ufimtseva, 1977), as metaphorization is created on the basis of associations and forms imagery. For example. characterizing nicknames of historical personalities like
It is well-known, that until late 18th-mid 19th century, majority of population of Russia did not have surnames. Nicknames had become the foundation for formation of the first Russian surnames that are distinguished by a lack of family formants. For instance, hereditary land ownership led to appearance of hereditary names. Some surnames pointed to a locality, where princes or boyars originated from: the river and town of
A special layer of the novel is formed by Sluzhkin's remembrance of this own school years. Vitya loved literature and had deep respect for his form mistress, a teacher of Russian language and literature, Irida Antonovna Chekasina
It is well-known that nicknames may change with time. For example, one of the pupils participating in the country walk with the surname of
Personal names, including surnames and nicknames, one way or another are names related to one and the same person. During the secondary nomination, nicknames are either originated from the personal name (or surname) or serve as their motivational base. In any case, in the literary text these names of characters are becoming their distinctive speech characteristic and simultaneously, author's means of character portrayal. Ivanov (2014) skillfully selects such names that in the text of the novel and in the speech of his characters become symbols.
– But do you have any idea, eeerm…
It is evident that within the pedagogical discourse the relationships between the teacher and a pupil shall be official and professional. The first geography lesson in the ninth grade that V.Sluzhkin delivers start like this:
«– Я вижу, класс у вас развеселый, (…).Давайте знакомиться.Меня зовут Виктор Сергеевич.Я буду вести у вас географию весь год…– А чо не Сушка?– крикнули с задних парт.– Сушка баще!..– I can see you class is very merry, (…). Let's get acquainted. My name is
These names arose as analogies to titles of various organizations, unions, societies, etc., cf.:
9 a – Red Professors: The Institute of Red Professors was the first institution in the USSR that was aimed at training scholars. This is the class where a B Student Masha Bolshakova and proposed medalists Spekhova and Starkov study;
9 b – Fathers, with whom V.Sluzhkin develops close relations. Fathers are relatives, family. Sometimes the Fathers teach their teacher. For example, during the outing Geographer behaves like an outsider, giving his pupils ability to independently select and act, while he is observing their courage, dexterity and skills in taking each other's opinion into account.
9 C –
Sonderkommando. This was the name used in Nazi Germany for various special purpose units. The leader of the class is impertinent and uncontrollable Gradusov.
V. Sluzhking the Geographer appears in a mixed discourse, professional and household simultaneously, at that the latter dominates. All his conscious experience is related to Perm, even to only one district of the city, Starye Rechniki. His neighbours, friends and wife are his peers and former classmates, with whom he drank out of the same bottle more than once. Sluzhkin's environment does not change, and he stays the same, that is why he does not feel difference in his relations with both teachers and pupils. Nevertheless, models of address will be different in school, in the family, among friends. Let us turn out attention to an example of social interaction.
Once, ninth grade pupils Demenev, Tiutin, Barmin, Ovechkin and Chebykin visited V. Sluzhkin at home to congratulate him on his birthday. They went out to the landing. Geographer grabbed a bottle of wine and poured some to the pupils. The pupils took a guitar and started singing a hooligan song to the tune of «Миллион алых роз» (Million Scarlet Roses, an well-known Russian pop song from early 1980s): «
Gradually, the Geographer became an informal leader, especially after he had promised a hiking trip for pupils of the 9th grade. He accepts familiar and disrespectful, initially ironic interpersonal communication, e.g.:
The meeting of Victor with Lena Anfimova, his long-time-no-see first love and former classmate is not for nothing:
– Vitia? – the woman became confused
– My Andriusha kept telling me « Tata Shushkina, Tata Shushkina... I thought it is Shishkina or Sushkina...
Finally, let us take a look at another name of V.Sluzhkin –
Self-evaluation of the character is provided with a special expressiveness: «И вот я,
So, let us present the proper names that characterize the novel's protagonist V. Sluzhkin as some kind of a semantic space. The full official name
Let us summarize and draw a conclusion that selection of the protagonist's name was meaningful. The name
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to analyze the functioning and semantization of proper names and nicknames in contemporary Russian novel.
The main method is contextual analysis involving lexicographic sources, dictionaries and references.
Characters’ names, just as their nicknames, are an important means of creating literary imagery and speech portrayal of the characters. Personal proper names are semanticized in accordance with the character's nature, their moral virtues and physical appearance. Selection of official or unofficial form of a personal name is determined by extralinguisitc factors and depends on the situation of communication, subordination of communicants, features of interpersonal communication, degree of acquaintance between the characters. The description of the onomastic space of A. Ivanov's novel is based upon external and internal motivation, professional and behavioral features, as well as contextual dependence of a given anthroponym.
Variety of personal names and nicknames vividly demonstrate author's vision of characters, actualize intertextual links, which in its turn, influences interpretation of the personal name or nickname and allows obtaining additional information about the character, pointing features of their temperament, express conceptual content of the literary work in a greater detail.
- Buslaev, F. I. (1959). Historical Grammar of the Russian Language. Moscow: Uchpedgiz.
- Dostoevsky, F. M. (1876). A Writer's Diary. Retrieved from: https://rvb.ru/dostoevski/01text/ vol13/178.htm
- Gardiner, А. H. (1954). The theory of proper names. Oxford.
- Gorbanevskii, M. V. (1987). In the World of Names and Titles. Moscow: Znanie.
- Iartseva, V. N. (1990). Linguistic Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow: Soviet Encyclopedia.
- Ivanov, A. V. (2014). The Geographer Drank the Globe Away. Moscow: AST.
- Jespersen, O. (1958). The philosophy of grammar. Moscow: Publishing house of foreign literature.
- Lotman, Iu. M. (2000). Semiosphere. St. Petersburg: Iskusstvo-SPB.
- Podolskaia, N. V. (1988). Dictionary of Russian Onomastic Terminology. Moscow: Nauka.
- Serebrennikov, B. A., & Ufimtseva, A. A. (1977). Linguistic nomination (types of naming). Moscow: Nauka.
- Sharandin, A. L. (2016). Interpreting factor of cognition and semantic structure of a word. Cognitive Studies of Language, XXIV, 714–728.
- Shcherba, L. V. (2004). Linguistic System and Speech Activity. Moscow: Editorial URSS.
- Superanskaia, A. V. (2009). General Theory of Proper Name: Name and society, status of the proper name, onomastic space and classification of names, proper names in language and speech, semantics of proper names. Moscow: URSS.
- Telia, V. N. (1977). Secondary Nomination and Its Types. Linguistic nomination. Types of naming, 22, 120–129.
- Zherebilo, T. V. (2010). A Dictionary of Linguistic Terms. Nazran: Piligrim.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
About this article
21 January 2020
Print ISBN (optional)
Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, science, technology, society
Cite this article as:
Vasileva*, A., & Krasina, E. (2020). Names And Nicknames As Means Of Portrayal In Contemporary Russian Novel. In D. Karim-Sultanovich Bataev, S. Aidievich Gapurov, A. Dogievich Osmaev, V. Khumaidovich Akaev, L. Musaevna Idigova, M. Rukmanovich Ovhadov, A. Ruslanovich Salgiriev, & M. Muslamovna Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 76. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 3307-3316). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.12.04.444