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Personal names from ethnonyms? Scandinavia and Elsewhere

journal contribution
posted on 2014-09-25, 10:52 authored by Philip A. Shaw
In 1994, discussing the problematic name Swābaharjaz recorded on the Rö stone, Lena Peterson made a plea for further study of the ethnophoric names: ‘I wish someone, some time, would study ethnic personal name elements, where and why they arise, where and how and why they spread’ (Peterson 1994:154). A study that attempted to do this for the Germanic languages as a whole – and a study of ethnophoric name elements would need to address the Germanic languages in their totality, as far as possible – would be an ambitious undertaking indeed, and certainly more than can be attempted in a single paper. This piece will not attempt anything like a complete study, but will focus instead on attempting to elucidate some of the problems involved, with a particular focus on ethnophoric and potentially ethnophoric names attested in Scandinavia in the Viking Age and before. It will be suggested that some of these names can be seen as part of a very early stratum of naming practice in the Germanic languages, which was inherited in Scandinavia as in other parts of the Germanic-speaking world. Some names of this type have the potential, then, to illuminate the mental geographies of Germanic speakers of the Roman period, or thereabouts, while others reflect later socio-political developments. At the same time, we should be cautious, this piece argues, in our judgements as to whether some names are or are not ethnophoric. [Taken from introduction]



Nomina : a journal of name studies relating to Great Britain and Ireland (in press)

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF ARTS, HUMANITIES AND LAW/School of English


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Nomina : a journal of name studies relating to Great Britain and Ireland (in press)


Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland


0141 6340

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