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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

International First Names in South-Slavonic Europe

Author(s):
J Virkkula
University of Helsinki, Finland

First names with an international feel are an interesting field of study. In popular discussion, giving babies unconventional names with an obvious foreign motivation is both admired and disliked. International names are, however, not only infrequent and foreign, they are also familiar and everyday. Informants choosing names for their children who report that they preferred international names, i.e., names that are common to several cultures or usual in a culture familiar although not native, mention living abroad in the future, the world as a global village and their own experiences with “difficult” names when explaining their choice. Those informants powerfully opposed to international names refer to their national pride and traditions as reasons for their dislike of international names – but still they might have chosen the exact same names for their children, albeit for different reasons, as their peers with a positive stance towards international names.
In this socio-anthroponomastic paper, the concept of international names within different South Slavonic communities is discussed, and how the internationality in naming is shown. Informant accounts from South Slavonic communities on reasons to choose an international name are presented. Both positive and negative connotations given to internationalist tendencies within naming children are given and discussed.

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