2018, Volume 15, Issue 2

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Maria V. Bobrova
Perm State University
Perm, Russia

Somatisms in Modern Nicknames of the Perm Region

Voprosy onomastiki, 2018, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp. 162–179 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2018.15.2.019

Received 1 July 2017

Abstract: The article presents a many-faceted approach to the study of the names of body parts attested in modern nicknames of the residents of the Perm region. With over 360 instances of such names collected, the author was able to: 1) compile a register of the reconstructed somatisms, with most productive lexemes also identified, 2) describe the features and functions of the mentioned body parts which happen to be more relevant to nominators, 3) define the “naive anatomy” characteristic of the nicknames, compared to the scientific view. Incidentally, the study discovers a certain “asymmetry” in the description of Homo Somatic the nicknames showcase: the individual organs and their systems may be presented in a detailed / exaggerated / lacunar ways; quite often these onyms are motivated by the names of the prominent exterior elements of the front-upper part of a body (face, mouth), or a belly (mostly that of pregnant women). The nicknames make note of protruding / overhanging features of the said parts, an unusually large size, unusual shape, their excessive character compared to the average, and so on. Functionally-driven scientific accounts of body parts as life necessities are irrelevant to the “naive anatomy”. The everyday language use focuses rather on its own functional and pragmatic aspects. The human body becomes more of a spatial object with its own “landscape” and “topography”. In this regard, somatisms are seen as “landmarks” of the anatomical space, so as the somatically-motivated nicknames act like the landmarks of social space (anthroponyms are a means of distinguishing a “friend” from a “foe”). It is concluded that modern nicknames of the residents of the Perm Region derived from the somatic vocabulary reflect the viability of genetic ties between the names of body parts with the traditional worldview, as much as they testify to the discrepancies between the “naive” and the scientific principles of describing the human anatomy. The nicknames also draw upon the traditional binary oppositions of “friend / foe”, “front / rear”, “upper / lower”, whereas the opposition of “right / left” is irrelevant.

Keywords: anthroponymy, nicknames, somatism, somonym, somatic vocabulary, Perm Region, cultural linguistics, dialectology


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