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date: 24 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The status of names as objects of linguistic, and especially historical linguistic, study is considered. Names have been used in microlinguistic studies as evidence for the nature and progress of linguistic change, for example of sound change, and also in macrolinguistic studies as evidence for the prehistoric presence of languages which have since disappeared. The question of whether changes may apply differently to names than to items of the general vocabulary is assessed. The entire process of becoming a name, by evolution or bestowal, is then analysed, and it is concluded that the very concept name is a historical one; names arise at a point in time through the cancellation of any sense(s) their constituents may have had etymologically. Some aspects of the evolution of naming systems are then considered, and the chapter concludes with a description and evaluation of the practice of the etymological study of names.

Keywords: historical onomastics, etymology, onomastic change, evolution of names, bestowal of names, evolution of naming systems, discipline of onomastics

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