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a branch of onomastics which studies personal proper names and their derivations, changes, geographic distribution, and social function, as well as the structure and development of anthroponymic systems.
In the modern Russian anthroponymic system each person has a personal name (chosen from a limited list), a patronymic, and a family name. (The number of possibilities of the latter is practically limitless.) There have existed and still do exist other anthroponymic systems. In ancient Rome each man had a praenomen—a personal forename (there were only 18 of these), a nomen—the tribe name which he inherited, and the cognomen—which characterized his immediate family or branch of the tribe. In modern Spain and Portugal a person usually has several personal names (from the Catholic Church’s list), as well as family names from his father and mother. In Iceland each person has a personal name (from a limited list) and, instead of a family name, a patronymic. In China, Korea, and Vietnam a person’s name is composed of a monosyllabic family name (in various periods they have numbered between 100 and 400) and a personal name, usually consisting of two monosyllabic morphemes. Moreover, the number of personal names is limitless.
A special branch in anthroponymic systems is occupied by hypocoristics (affectionate and diminutive personal names—for example, the Russian Mashen’ka and Petia and the English Bill and Davy), pseudonyms, and nicknames. The data provided by anthroponymy are also essential for other branches of linguistics, for sociology, and for the history of various peoples.
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Selishchev, A. M. “Proiskhozhdenie russkikh familii, lichnykh imen i prozvishch.” Uch. zap. MGU,1948, issue 128, book 1.
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Nikonov, V. A. “Lichnoe imia—sotsial’nyi znak.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1967, no. 5.
Nikonov, V. A. “Lichnye imena v sovremennoi Rossii.” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1967, no. 6.
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V. A. NIKONOV