Surnames, Nicknames, Placenames and Epithets in America

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This is a collection of essays selected with the purpose of presenting a picture of the concerns and state of onomastics in America in the closing decades of the 20th Century. Onomastics is the serious study of names and naming. Names are used in all cultures to designate particular persons, places, events, and ideas. This study helps show both universal aspects of human culture and differences between cultures over time and space. The study of names as used in America is relevant for investigating universal patterns and tendencies, as most places in America were named more recently than the older, earlier-settled parts of the world.


“ ... [this book] presents a challenge to readers, scholars, and researchers in a variety of fields to recognize the importance of names in their disciplines and to further elaborate what has become a truism, that onomastics can broaden and deepen our understanding of the human condition.” – Professor Cleveland Kent Evans, Bellevue University and Edwin D. Lawson, Professor Emeritus, State University of New York, Fredonia

Table of Contents

Introduction by Cleveland Kent Evans and Edwin D. Lawson
Theory and Practice of Onomastics
1. Is a Theory of Names Possible?, John Algeo
2. Slouching Toward a Theory of Names: A Tentative Taxonomic Fix, Wilbur Zelinsky
3. How New Naming Systems Emerge: The Prototypical Cases of Columbus and Washington, Lawrence M. Baldwin and Michel Grimaud
4. Distribution of Forenames, Surnames, and Forename-Surname Pairs in the United States, D.K. Tucker
Personal Names in American Society
1. Impressions Created by Given Names, Albert Mehrabian
2. The Many Faces of Nicknames, Theodore J. Holland, Jr.
3. Nicknames, Coal Miners, and Group Solidarity, James K. Skipper, Jr.
4. A New Look at Address in American English: The Rules Have Changed, Thomas E. Murray
5. Noms de Felt: Names in Gambling, Thomas L. Clark
6. Personal Names That Become Ethnic Epithets, Irving Lewis Allen
7. Feminization of Unisex Names from 1960 to 1990, Herbert H. Barry III and Aylene S. Harper
Geographic Names in American Society
1. Development and Implementation of the Nation’s Official Geographic Names Database, Roger L. Payne
2. What Do We Want to Know About Place Names?, Grant Smith
3. The Sociolinguistics of the “S-Word”: Squaw in American Place Names, William Bright
4. Regional Naming Patterns and the Culture of Honor, Michael H. Kelly
5. The Naming of Moscows in the USA, Ren Vasiliev
6. On the Success of Efforts to Retain the Names of Several American Communities in the Two World Wars, Robert M. Rennick
In Memoriam: Irving Lewis Allen, Thomas L. Clark, Michel Grimaud, James K. Skipper, Jr.

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