Ava to Zac: A Sociolinguistic Study of Given Names and NickNames in Australia
Personal Names are often thought of simply as labels - terms we use in order to identify our fellow human beings. In fact, however, there is a great deal more to personal Names than this. Besides their historical meanings, Names also carry an array of associative meanings. For example, a given Name may evoke a particular socio-economic class, generation, or ethnic group - and it will almost certainly carry information concerning gender. Based on a large corpus of interviews undertaken among residents of the Sydney region, this study explores these lesser-known meanings of Names. It addresses questions such as: What factors influence the choice of given Names? In what ways are these Names then modified, and what are the social significations of the modifications? (When, for example, is Caroline called Carrie, Caro, Cazza or Caz?) And to what Extent do immigrant groups adapt their Names to the patterns of the dominant culture, and what does this tell us about processes of assimilation? According to Peter Trudgill, the study "treats a novel topic in an original, innovative and insightful way".