Personal Names

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Re: Personal Names

Postby alexfink » Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:01 pm

My thoughts on the name anti-taboo (cool idea). The first solution that came to my mind to avoiding the infinite accumulation of names (on people or on a fetish) as time goes on would be to have speakers bear the name of one of the dead as their _primary_ name. And you could do this more flexibly than by heritance: so when someone turns 13 (or whatever threshold), the community looks through the set of names currently being borne as secondary names, finds the one which seems to be the best fit (whoever the 13-year-old most reminds them of), and bestows that as the new primary name. The secondary bearer transfers it to them, and thereafter they revert to one name and the weight of the second is off their shoulders.

I guess that unless you reuse names occasionally, or allow new names to be coined, or have sources outside the culture for them (perhaps allies of the people also get remembered namewise), my sketch can't cope well with long-term community population growth.

[Apologies if this is stirring up something settled.]
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Re: Personal Names

Postby Matthew Turnbull » Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:05 pm

No, it was very unsettled for me anyhows, and I really do like your idea. I vote that they should have the option of coining a name if the parents (or whoever) wishes however, rather than bestowing a name, and then the names would just get passed along as normal otherwise. I wonder how much population growth there would be though, in a secret society type setting?
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Re: Personal Names

Postby kadani » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:20 am

Good idea, alex! I like it!
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Re: Personal Names

Postby Dedalvs » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:45 pm

Just a note on the original name taboos (or at least the ones I heard about). A naming taboo occurred on a particular island (the family is Austronesian, but I can't be more specific than that), and it wasn't a taboo for anyone: it was just for tribal chiefs. After a tribal chief died, you were forbidden to utter his name. This resulted once in a radical change for the word for "palmtree", but other than that, I think it went on for awhile without too much trouble.

I think the thing that made that system sustainable was that it didn't apply to the whole population--if it did, they'd be out of names (and perhaps words) after a hundred or so years. With our anti-taboo system, we might consider having it apply only to a select few, rather than the entire population. While it's the opposite of a taboo system, it might make it more manageable and natural.
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Re: Personal Names

Postby Matthew Turnbull » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:50 am

maybe the name anti-taboo only applies to people of a certain religious standing? I gather that the con-people are fairly religious.
ave matyu at vijeréiisoblarre ayna
saluton mi nomas mateo kaj lingvokreas mi
je me nomme Matthew Turnbull et je fais la glossopoésie
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Re: Personal Names

Postby alexfink » Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:03 am

From Reichard's grammar of Wiyot (which I was looking at for unrelated reasons), §8:
The language, in common with other idioms of the region, abounds in descriptive terms. For each nominal stem a long circumlocution may be used, in fact, is often preferred. This tendency is due, in part, to the custom of abandoning for a time the name of a deceased relative together with all words whose sound combinations remotely approximate the combinations of the name. It may be that some words have been lost through this custom, but the loss cannot be greater than the gain; for the need of forming new compounds has been met by the relative freedom (within given limits) of the elements of the language. Furthermore, the habit of giving the name of a dead kinsman to a child—preferably a niece or nephew of the deceased-after a few years, has resulted in words coming into use again. This was especially true when the tribe was larger and it was considered not only worthy but fortunate to inherit a name. I am not inclined to lay too much stress upon the death taboo as the cause of the frequent use of descriptive terms, for when there is no need for discarding a noun, there seems often to be a preference for the longer term. Place names, also, show no tendency toward brevity.

So a taboo and an anti-taboo could well coexist in the same group! Also it doesn't look to have been restricted to those in upper strata of society, in any sense (a property shared with other examples I've seen, I'm fairly sure). OTOH we don't seem to be heading in the "most things have phrasal names" direction with Kenakoliku.
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Re: Personal Names

Postby Dedalvs » Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:46 am

alexfink wrote:So a taboo and an anti-taboo could well coexist in the same group!


Holy smoke! That's incredible! I'm not sure if it's the same one I heard of (if it happened once, it was bound to happen other times), but that's pretty cool! It looks like it's not a taboo-taboo, but a kind of--

Hey, how about this! What if the name was taboo until it was given to a new child? That way nothing is lost unless collectively they decide not to pass the old name on.
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Re: Personal Names

Postby Matthew Turnbull » Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:46 am

That sounds like a good idea, but what would make someone's name not get passed on? They did something really bad, and no one agreed with it? Maybe heretics wouldn't get passed on, I dunno who else.
ave matyu at vijeréiisoblarre ayna
saluton mi nomas mateo kaj lingvokreas mi
je me nomme Matthew Turnbull et je fais la glossopoésie
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Re: Personal Names

Postby Miatato » Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:58 pm

Perhaps a name wouldn't pass on if someone had either committed some heinous crime (murder, for instance), or if they'd chosen to abandon their secret (or at least less-public) cultural identity in favor of their public identity (e.g., deciding to be "John Smith" full-time and repudiating the minority culture identity). It might mean that the person may be seen as culturally "dead", since they are no longer participating in community life and aren't likely to pass the culture on to future generations. (This doesn't necessarily mean being shunned by the community, but it might be something that the aforementioned John Smith's family might find disappointing, shameful, and embarrassing, and maybe that's enough to keep the name from passing on.)
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Re: Personal Names

Postby Dedalvs » Sun Apr 18, 2010 4:55 pm

Miatato wrote:Perhaps a name wouldn't pass on if someone had either committed some heinous crime (murder, for instance), or if they'd chosen to abandon their secret (or at least less-public) cultural identity in favor of their public identity (e.g., deciding to be "John Smith" full-time and repudiating the minority culture identity). It might mean that the person may be seen as culturally "dead", since they are no longer participating in community life and aren't likely to pass the culture on to future generations. (This doesn't necessarily mean being shunned by the community, but it might be something that the aforementioned John Smith's family might find disappointing, shameful, and embarrassing, and maybe that's enough to keep the name from passing on.)


I like it. I like it a lot. :)
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