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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 39, Issue 2/4, 2011

Ülle Pärli
Pages 197-222

Proper name as an object of semiotic research

The present article is divided into two parts. Its theoretical introductory part takes under scrutiny how proper name has been previously dealt with in linguistics, philosophy and semiotics. The purpose of this short overview is to synthesise different approaches that could be productive in the semiotic analysis of naming practices. Author proposes that proper names should not be seen as a linguistic element or a type of (indexical) signs, but rather as a function that can be carried by different linguistic units. This approach allows us to develop a transdisciplinary basis for a wider understanding of naming as a sociocultural practice. The empirical part of the article uses one certain village in Estonia in Laane-Virumaa district as an example to demonstrate how toponyms structure the social space, how they carry the memory and how naming practice highlights such changes in the semiotic behaviour of the social life that otherwise could have remained hidden.

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