A cross-cultural approach to personal naming: given names in the systems of Vietnamese and English
Nguyen Viet, Khoa
Personal names form one of the most important sections in the system of proper names that are traditionally studied within the field of onomastics. Personal names contain history, tradition, culture as well as all characteristic features of each ethnic community. The general aim of this research project is to have a cross-cultural approach to personal naming based on the systems of Vietnamese and English. Due to the broad scope of the topic of personal names, my research focuses on given names only. First of all, to establish a theoretical background, I dwell on onomastic problems with the focus on the semantic characterisation of proper names, and cultural issues in the study of personal names. I then argue that the views on meaning of names espoused by the Millian and Fregean schools can be reconciled, and that as a cultural universal, names convey both denotational and connotational contents but the content of names can only be determined in each specific language community based on clarification of traditional and cultural values embodied in naming process. Next, the thesis approaches Vietnamese and English given names by reviewing their historical and linguistic characteristics and then classifying them into relevant groups and subgroups. The main purpose of these taxonomies is to bring out the topological characteristics of Vietnamese and English given names as well as the naming trends and forces that have formed the two cultures over the past centuries. Finally, I present a comparison and contrast of Vietnamese and English given names covering all the aspects on the basis of which I institutionalise the theoretical reconciliation of Vietnamese and English personal naming systems, and establish that a reconciliation of the two naming systems is possible within a single overarching framework for their theoretical discussion.
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