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in linguistics, the process by which linguistic elements are associated with the objects that they signify. Three aspects of naming are distinguished: the object named, the naming subject, and the linguistic means from which the selection is made. The object named may be a particular concept, a physical object, or an attribute (“beauty,” “to go,” “horse,” “white”); an object with modifiers (“white horse”); or an entire event (“Fire!,” “The train has arrived”). In this respect, different lexical and propositive names (the latter expressed by a word combination or sentence) are used.
The attribute selected as the basis for the name creates the inner form of the name. Thus, one and the same object may receive different names based on its different attributes. For example, the Russian detskii stul’chik, literally “children’s little chair,” is based on the object’s intended use, whereas the English “high chair” is based on the form of the object. The external form of a name is determined by the lexicogrammatical linguistic resources used in naming, so that names that signify identical concepts may differ in their outward form; for example, the Russian staryi chelovek and starik both denote “old man.”
The laws of naming are manifested not only in the ready-made naming resources of language (words, word combinations, grammatical forms) but in every act of speech in which an object is named on the basis of one of its characteristic attributes. Names for specific objects in a given language are relatively consistent, which ensures linguistic communication, but they are not absolute. An object may receive new names based on its other attributes (secondary naming), or the same name may designate other objects (figurative, or indirect, naming). The relative stability of naming determines the growth of the name-creating possibilities of a language and the use of such possibilities for literary purposes.
V. G. GAK