2020, Volume 17, Issue 2

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Boris Yu. Norman*
Natalja Rajnochová**

*Belarusian State University
Minsk, Belarus
**Charles University
Prague, Czech Republic

Patronymic as a Symbol of Russian Culture

Voprosy onomastiki, 2020, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp. 323–336 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2020.17.2.031

Received on 13 December 2019

Abstract: The paper discusses the place of patronymic in the Russian anthroponymicon and the evolution of its functions in modern society. The functional aspect is studied using examples from fiction and journalism, a significant part of the factual material being retrieved from the National Corpus of the Russian language and (for comparative purposes) from the Czech National Corpus. Apparently, the use or avoidance of patronymic in Russian language communication has important sociolinguistic and pragmatic implications. Using a patronymic, the speaker can manage group relationships and regulate the development of conversation. The article considers specific communicative situations such as wishing to hide an unpleasant or “dangerous” patronymic, omission of patronymic in creative circles (musicians, artists, actors, etc.), addressing “only by patronymic,” etc. A particular focus is made on the perception of the Russian patronymic name in a foreign language context (cases of adaptation, omission, transformation of a patronymic, etc). On the functional side, patronymics may denote nationality (seen as a particularly “Russian” trait) and patronymic relation per se (by referring to the father and patriarchal culture). They can be a sign of maturity (as a designation of a grown-up person), status (position in society), and respect. Likewise, they can be used for differentiation (distinguishing namesake people) or concealing (disguising the true family background). The authors also analyze the use of the patronymic-based word-formation pattern for creating nicknames, brand and product names (pragmatonyms), and company names (ergonyms). The latter cases (the Erofeich liqueur, Sam Samych dumplings, Semyonovna seeds, Petrovich building materials store, etc.) may attest to a positive connotation the patronymic has in the Russian worldview.

Keywords: middle name (patronymic), anthroponymy, Russian culture, functions of the patronymic, adaptation of the patronymic, hedging, pragmatics.


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