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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Adaptation, Conservation or Something Else? The Choice of First Names in Multilingual/Multicultural Families in Contemporary Sweden.

E Aldrin
Uppsala University, Sweden

All choices we make, linguistic choices as well as others, are to some extent choices of identity. Through our choices of clothes, food and language varieties, we create identities that show those around us how we converge with or diverge from various groups. This, I argue, is also true for choices of first names for children. In the case of immigrants and multilingual/multicultural families, it is most visible. For these families, the choice of first names often becomes a choice between several lingual and cultural identities. They might choose to adapt to the onomasticon of the surrounding majority language/culture, or conserve the onomasticon of their own language/culture, or try to find a way of combining these. In this paper, I explore the choice of first names in a number of multilingual/multicultural families in the city of Göteborg, Sweden. The results are based on a postal survey conducted in 2007, which is part of a doctoral thesis concerning the choice of first names and social identities. Approximately 150 multilingual/multicultural families responded to the questionnaire which contained questions on both name giving practice and sources of inspiration, as well as underlying motives and attitudes towards different name characteristics.

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