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Naming as social practice: The case of Little Creeper from Diamond Street

  • Betsy Rymes (a1)
Abstract

Proper names have often been discussed by philosophers of language without the benefit of anthropological insights. This article combines research from these two fields in order to move toward a theory of naming as social practice – emphasizing the nature of naming and nicknaming as it is crucially attached to cultural history, social context, and individual experience. To exemplify this notion, the article outlines naming and its various functions as described by and used in the narratives of one young man from the “Diamond Street” gang who goes by the nickname “Little Creeper.” A discussion of outsiders' interpretations of gang names indicates how the meaning of a name can be transformed in different social contexts without losing its association with the initial referent. (Naming practices, proper names, ideology and language, at-risk youth)

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Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
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