Aspects and methods for examining the connection between personal names and ethnicity
It is a difficult task to determine the value of proper names in ethnic reconstruction. This can be considered a dubious area of onomastic/linguistic and historical research. Even the explanation of the basic concepts seems to be problematic; still, defining ethnicity and identifying the nature of the connection between ethnicity and language cannot be avoided. It is also important to define the value of the different types of personal names as sources: what can and cannot the research into the etymology of surnames be used for, what are the factors that have an impact on linguistic recon-struction, how can individual names help ethnic reconstruction, etc. After summarizing the back-ground research of name analysis in Hungary, the author presents a multi-level method of ethnic reconstruction based on personal names. The procedure tries to separate the determination of the name’s etymology from that of the ethnic affiliation, placing the examination objectives at separate levels. On the first level, the etymology of the surnames is determined and the linguistic background of the name is explored by considering linguistic aspects only, paying attention to the rules of ety-mological and onomastic research. The author separates two levels of the examination of ethnic reconstruction that are built upon each other. On the one hand, the linguistic features of the indi-vidual names are observed, and then other information on name sociology (e.g. social status, majority population), referring directly or indirectly to ethnic background, is taken into consideration.