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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Names in Multi-Cultural Scotland: Personal Naming in the Muslim Pakistani Community in Glasgow

Author(s):
E Bramwell
University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Naming traditions arise as products of the culture in which they are used. This paper asks the question: what happens when these traditions are transplanted into a society with different naming conventions? The question is being investigated in relation to personal naming practices used in immigrant communities in Scotland.

Data on naming practices within the Muslim Pakistani community in Glasgow was obtained through extensive qualitative interviews. Following anthropologists such as Richard Antoun, a very broad definition of what constituted a name was adopted, allowing for any form of address or reference to be considered. Three main areas emerged: customary names (including surnames, given names and names relating to clan networks), address terms (such as kinship terms and titles) and nicknames. The results showed some continuity with Muslim Pakistani tradition alongside fundamental changes to naming structures to fit with British norms.

These results are supplemented and contrasted with those obtained from other nationalities which comprise the asylum seeker/refugee community in the city. The social structure of this multi-ethnic and less established immigrant community is looser, more diverse and more transient than that of the firmly established, culturally homogeneous and close-knit Muslim Pakistani community.

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