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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Classifying German Company Names According to Onymic Aspects

I Spitzner
Gesellschaft für Namenkunde e.V., Germany

As public interest in economic and business related issues is constantly rising, company names have become a regular part of our everyday language. So far, however, names of companies have been given relatively little attention in onomastics, although, aside from general importance, they represent a special example for the interdisciplinary aspect of this science.
Analysing company names should also be of interest, because of their dual affiliation to both, the onomastic and appellative system (proper and generic names). In most cases it is difficult to differentiate what company names refer to as for the general public they often relate to more than one referent, such as the company, the product, the producer and the owner of the company.
The structure of company names is rather manifold. In modern company names generic designations dominate. The name of the founder or owner is combined with an appellative or a group of it to indicate the kind of services offered by the company. Often an English word or part is added to underline the company’s international reach or to help promote its product or services.
As names can also play a major part in the total value or brand equity of companies, their names can express connections to other sciences as well, such as business economics, or they can reflect traditions of the company itself.
This analysis identifies specific onymic characteristics of German company names in general and points at regional or local differences. A typology of German company names is proposed

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