2014 №2 (17)

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Galina R. Dobrova
Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia
Saint Petersburg, Russia

Personal Names in Children's Speech: The Process of Acquisition

Voprosy onomastiki (Problems of Onomastics), 2014, Issue 2 (17), pp. 103–111 (in Russian)

12 May 2014

Abstract: The article discusses the process of children’s understanding of the differences between proper and common names. The author emphasizes the role of the anthropocentric approach to personal names, especially when it is based on the study of the ontogenetic development of linguistic capacity focusing on the mechanisms of the formation of mental patterns of proper names, in particular — of personal names, and of their special linguistic status as (relatively) “strict” designators. Analyzing recordings of children’s spontaneous speech and experimental data, the author argues that the study of the early stages of personal names acquisition, in comparison with the acquisition of common nouns, highlights such significant features of a child’s developing mind as the ability to distinguish between identifying and generalizing linguistic signs, to construct hyponym/hyperonym relations going from individual to the most generalized designations (from personal name to common nouns of different kinds, including relative, completely depending on the reference point, and reciprocal ones, e. g. kinship terms). Additionally, the author shows that the anthropocentric approach emphasizes such properties of personal names as their coreferentiality, relativity and their capacity to act as semiotic shifters as far as the choice of the form of a name depends on the social relations between the speaker and his addressee and their respective positions in the social hierarchy.

Key words: Russian language, anthroponymy, anthropocentric linguistics, ontolinguistics, language ontogenesis, shifters, semantic relativity


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