ERIC Number: ED252075
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1972
Reference Count: 0
The Use of Nicknames as Evaluators of Personal Competence in Malta. Sociolinguistic Working Paper.
Herndon, Marcia; McLeod, Norma
The pragmatic use of nicknames as clarifiers separates the Maltese usage from those so common throughout the world where the nickname is used as a means of hiding identity. The familial character of most nicknames in Malta suggests they are the vestiges of a pre-Christian naming system. The major peculiarity in Malta is in the intermingling of seven naming devices in an evaluative system. The study of evaluative methods reveals a stable set of principles and fluid usage. People are mobile in the system according to their relative ability and the Maltese play with the system and express their personal feelings about others through it, regardless of the correctness of their opinions. In the case of musicians, nicknames are applied based on the musician's competence, and factions develop based on these evaluations and change over time. Personal evaluations used as insults evoke responses that have become institutionalized in the song duel, which creates various interpretations of the evaluation system. The purpose of the duelling is to create a set of situations in which speech is used indirectly in a way that allows for several possible interpretations, representative of some aspects of Maltese society. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Southwest Educational Development Lab., Austin, TX.
Identifiers: Malta; Nicknames