The new approach to the analysis of family names proposed here bears some similarity to motivation-based systematizations of traditional typologies. The basis of naming is most often related to some peculiarity or characteristic attribute of the person named. In such cases, the (part of a) name concerned has a peculiarity-marking function (Hoffmann, 1999). Given the basic theorem that name giving is mainly determined by extra-linguistic factors (elements of reality), it is most appropriate to delimit peculiarity-marking categories cognitively on the basis of the relationship between the name bearer and a segment or constituent of reality. Linguistic meaning 'is closely related to cognition, that is, the way we perceive the world around us' (Kiefer, 2007). In terms of cognitive semantics, human perception identifies a smaller, less conspicuous, less readily identifiable object or entity (figure) in relation to a larger, more static piece of reality carrying known information (ground). In that relationship, five elements of reality can be discerned: (1) the individual being named, (2) a person or group of persons, (3) society, (4) a place, and (5) relevant things or events.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.