Studier över nordsvenska ortsboöknamn

Studier över nordsvenska ortsboöknamn

Studies of local nicknames ("blason populaire") in northern Sweden (Engelska)

Författare: Lars-Erik Edlund
Utgivningsår: 1985

This thesis deals with collective nicknames denoting the inhabitants of a place (parish, village etc.) in northern Sweden, i.e. names of the type arnästjuvar (denoting the inhabitants of the parish of Arnäs; tjuv 'thief') and tynderötuppar (denoting the inhabitants of the parish of Tynderö; tupp 'cock'). The main aim of the thesis is to explain why various nickname elements were chosen and to describe the general character of the nicknames of northern Sweden.

These nicknames have been used collectively about the inhabitants of a certain place in a jocular or derogatory sense. They have been used above all in male-dominated contexts, e.g. in military camps. The nicknames are ethnocentric: they denote individuals in their capacity as members of a group. They are often related to other, similar names, so that they form series which are connected phonetically, semantically or from the point of view of word formation. The discussion of these aspects is based on Hugo Moser's research on "Namenfelder".

Sources from about 1600 to the present day have been used as material. The bulk of the material consists of answers to questionnaires from the 20th century. Because of the construction of the questionnaires the material is to some extent imperfect.

The nicknames often reflect various aspects of the society of the individuals, but today the explanation for names is quite often secondary and a result of folk-etymology. Some nicknames reflect the trades of the inhabitants, others social conditions, diet or dress, others ethnic conditions. The nickname strömmingar was often given to people living on the coast where fishing was an important source of income. The nickname element finnar reflects local settlement by Finns. Some nicknames probably reflect various linguistic conditions (dialectal pronunciation, characteristic place-names or personal names), pictures in local seals or historical events.

Several nickname elements have been chosen through association with the form of the place-name or the name of the inhabitants, or with existing nicknames, referring either to the inhabitants themselves or their neighbours. There is often a similarity in sound between the place-name (or the name of the inhabitants) and nickname elements. We find e.g. alliteration, assonance and rhyme, or formations in which the place-name (or the name of the inhabitants, or part of it) is compounded with a nickname element to make up an appellative which already exists. The latter kind of formation may be illustrated with the nickname bergtroll ('mountain trolls') to denote those who live in S'àvaiberg (in the parish of Sävar). Some nicknames have as their basis an association from the place-name (or the name of the inhabitants) to the nickname element chosen. The associations are frequently difficult to trace. A nickname like orrlidtuppar (denoting those who live in Orrliden in the parish of Skellefteå) was no doubt chosen through association with the appellative orrtupp 'blackcock'. When the nickname smedstaspiken (denoting the inhabitants of Smedsta in the parish of Lit) was coined, the place-name element smed 'smith' was associated with the closely related spik 'nail'.

A close analysis of nicknames denoting parish inhabitants in northern Sweden shows that there are often pairs (or series) of nicknames which are related phonetically (through alliteration, assonance or rhyme), semantically or morphologically, just as nicknames denoting neighbours may be connected in a similar way.

Frequently, parish inhabitants have different names in relation to different neighbours. How innovations are introduced and spread is shown by the sfw/"/Z?wf-nicknames in the province of Ångermanland. An analysis of the nicknames denoting the inhabitants of parishes in north-eastern Ångermanland shows that the inhabitants of the old parishes have only one nickname each-a name which is known over a large area-while the inhabitants of the newer parishes have several nicknames. The reason why several nicknames are used to denote inhabitants in newer parishes seems to be that there was no old, unequivocal nickname tradition to fall back on.

In the final chapter the importance of patterns for the formation of nicknames is stressed, but also the importance of creativity and coinages. A striking coinage has a great chance of becoming generally accepted and also of becoming the centre of new groups of nicknames.