2020, Volume 17, Issue 1

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Viktoria V. Kaziaba
Northern (Arctic) Federal University
Severodvinsk, Russia

Researching Internet Nicknames: On the Methodology of Material Selection (Based on German-Language Internet Communication)

Voprosy onomastiki, 2020, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp. 223–235 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2020.17.1.013

Received 12 November 2018

Abstract: The paper aims to explore the Internet nickname as a main anthroponymic unit of Internet communication, an integral part of a virtual personality, and an outcome of complex psycholinguistic processes of self-naming. An overview of key studies of this phenomenon leads the author to conclude that it still lacks proper theoretical grounding, which is largely due to its specific properties that impede research. The article focuses on the issues that arise at the stage of material selection. The main points for discussion were suggested both by the analysis of existing research on the topic, as well as empirical data collected during almost ten years of anthroponymic studies of German-language virtual communication. The first issue relates to the necessity of using external sources (users’ personal data, their social media imprint) for reliable analysis and interpretation of nicknames. Thereby, the paper argues the relevance of content and discourse analysis for studying virtual personality, as well as interviewing the users to obtain a comprehensive research file. Since random sampling remains the key method for selecting factual material, the question persists about the sufficient amount of the data. The article highlights the solutions proposed by different researchers and gives sociolinguistic groundings to the minimal number of data that ensures a representative sample of aliases. Finally, the question of the choice of sources is raised. The author concludes that an unconditional trend in anthroponymic research of nicknames is the study of units within one specific Internet service.

Keywords: anthroponym, Internet communication, nickname, proper name, self-naming, methods of linguistic research, German language.


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