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190768Re: Real names

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  • Adam Walker
    Sep 4, 2012
      On Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 6:31 PM, Alex Fink <000024@...> wrote:

      > Some people here have mentioned naming schemes where, in various ways,
      > names are arranged to be nonwords. But this kind of thing feels rather
      > unlikely to me. Names being straight-up meaningful (maybe plus a
      > name-making morpheme), natural enough; names being chosen from a standard
      > stock most of whose meanings have been long forgotten, fine. But an actual
      > constraint _against_ a name being a word? Names assembled bespoke for
      > their sound-taste, or omnium gatherum out of syllables, with no particular
      > invocation of any words intended? Do these things actually happen? (often?)
      >
      > I suppose modern-day black Americans kinda exemplify a form of the second
      > pattern, so there's one. (And it can be accounted for. Here is David Zax
      > tracing its origins back to 60s black separatist sentiment:
      > http://www.salon.com/2008/08/25/creative_black_names/
      > Do those of you with this kind of pattern have such explanations for it?)
      >
      > Alex
      >

      I just thought of one example. The American Deaf community. Sign names
      are almost never actual words but are sometimes words that have been
      altered in some way, often to utilize the initial of the Deaf person's
      English name. For example, I had one friend whose English name was Patty.
      She had very bright eyes, so her sign name was STAR modified to be signed
      with two Ps instead of the normal 1 handshape. Other sign names are simply
      the initial of the English name placed by, or mimicing, some prominant
      feature fo the Deaf person, whether physical or behavioral. My sign name
      has always been A placed at my right temple. The Deaf person who gave it
      to me gave three reasons -- 1) Adam in the Bible is signed the same way, 2)
      I was (and still am) very interested in Asia, and 3) I am smart. However,
      when I attended some summer classes on Sign Language Linguistics a few
      years back at University of North Dakota, it just so happened that the
      director of the Linguistics program, one Albert Bickford, signed his name
      exactly the same way, so for that summer, my name got changed. The
      classmate who remaned me was from Thailand and a native signer of Thai Sign
      Language, and so my name was transformed to a gesture outlining my goatee
      (which is now a full beard, so...). I finances ever allow me to go back
      and continue that course work, I may have to revert to my alternate name
      for the duration. So, that's one example of a real world cultuer in which
      names are neither meaningful words, nor drawn from an inherited stock set,
      but ARE frequently either nonce coinages or words warped in some way or
      other.

      Adam
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