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The Grammar of Names in Anglo-Saxon EnglandThe Linguistics and Culture of the Old English Onomasticon$
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Fran Colman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198701675

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198701675.001.0001

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Names as words

Names as words

(p.21) 2 Names as words
The Grammar of Names in Anglo-Saxon England

Fran Colman

Oxford University Press

This chapter justifies the choice of Old English personal names for grammatical analysis. The view of names as nouns is rejected. Different syntactic distributions reflect different notional properties. Unlike common words, names lack the sense relations correlating with denotation. The chapter discusses alleged meanings of names and reassesses claims about their function: as individual identification, as purely referential, as classificatory. Information about a name which is lexical, in the form of secondary categories (‘person’ versus ‘place’, male versus female gender), and to be entered into an onomasticon, is distinguished from encyclopaedic information which a name may acquire. Departures from conventional gender assignment within a single onomasticon (e.g. Fido as the name of a female cat), notably via figurative acts, create variables which may become conventional. Such variables have the potential to effect language change.

Keywords:   denotation, encyclopaedic, etymology, gender, language variation, notional, verbal magic

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