2021, Volume 18, Issue 2

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Elena V. Dziuba
Svetlana A. Eremina

Ural State Pedagogical University
Ekaterinburg, Russia

Mimeticonym as a Result of Secondary Self-Naming

Voprosy onomastiki, 2021, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp. 139–155 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2021.18.2.023

Received on 13 February 2021

Abstract: The paper examines a particular type of secondary self-naming that is commonly attested in China universities as a means to enter a foreign cultural environment. Given its purpose to facilitate intercultural communication, the authors note a clear pattern how this secondary proper name is chosen: a Russian name is used when studying the Russian language, and a European one — when mastering other languages (English, German, French, etc.). A term mimeticonym is introduced for such secondary proper name the person is choosing to familiarize themselves with a foreign culture. The paper describes a two-level experiment focusing on motivation behind this secondary self-naming practice, which includes linguistic, situational, communicative, and sociocultural factors. The authors distinguish between mimeticonyms of the 1st and 2nd stage — the former acquired when studying the first foreign language (in this case, Russian), the latter — when mastering others (European). At the first stage, linguistic features predominate since “Russian” names seem phonetically approximate to the real names, the sound form is brief and easy to pronounce, and there’s a semantic similarity between etymons of the Chinese and Russian names. Communicative factors reveal the influence of the situational context on choosing a secondary name (typically, within the educational discourse) while sociocultural factors reveal the level of awareness about the target culture among foreign students. The fact that these naming patterns tend to reproduce when the person gets to study other foreign languages, allows the authors to conclude their sustainable nature. Based on the data of a survey among Chinese students of Russian and other foreign languages, the semantic structure of the secondary name is described in terms of signification, denotation, and connotation. On the functional side, the role of secondary self-naming (the choice of a mimeticonym) is key for person’s adaptation to a different culture and reducing psychological stress in the process of intercultural communication.

Keywords: secondary self-naming, personal name, mimeticonym, international students, Chinese students, foreign language, Russian as a foreign language, intercultural communication.

The research is accomplished with financial support of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, Project No. 19-013-00895 “Learning to Understand Russia: Cognitive Strategies of Development of Teaching Aids in Russian as a Foreign Language”.


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