The sound patterns of English nicknames

De Klerk, V.A. and Bosch, B. (1997) The sound patterns of English nicknames. Language Sciences, 19 (4). pp. 289-301. ISSN 0388-0001


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The English lexicon has been found to reflect certain recognisable phonological preferences in relation to consonants, vowels, stress patterns and syllabic structure, and these trends have been reflected in sharper terms in analyses of particular subsets of vocabulary: phonaesthetic words (Crystal, 1995b) and first names (Cutler et al., 1994). Because nicknames are relatively impermanent informal names which allow users considerable linguistic licence in breaking the rules, this study analyses the phonological patterns of English nicknames in order to test the validity of the claims which have been made about English phonological preferences in general and specifically in names and favoured words. The study focuses specifically on nicknames reportedly used with positive social intent, in order to test whether positive nicknames follow more closely the phonological trends in phonaesthetic English words. The study reveals clear evidence of particular consonantal and vocalic preferences in nicknames as well as trends in terms of stress and syllabic structure, which can be argued to be linked to either the social intent of the nickname user or the gender of the bearer, which suggests evidence of some sound-symbolism at work in English nicknames.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:English nicknames, phonological patterns
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > English Language and Linguistics
ID Code:205
Deposited By: Rhodes Library Archive Administrator
Deposited On:27 Feb 2006
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:17
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