Title

Socio-Cultural and Socio-Linguistic Functions of Nursery Names in Rural China

Subject Area

East Asian/Chinese Studies

Abstract

This presentation reports a case study that examines an ancient child-naming tradition in a rural community in northwest China where the nursery names of children have profound socio-cultural significance, and the naming practice has five main socio-linguistic sub-functions: (1) imposing the hopes of their parents; (2) reflecting a religious healing ceremonial or the villagers’ negotiations with gods or demons whom they believe to wield controls over the social and physical lives of the people in the village; (3) marking an event that is meaningful to the family or the village; (4) showing sibling relations that is deemed important in agrarian culture and (5) names for girls that reflect gender inequality. While the tradition is a valuable key to Chinese rural culture, it is facing challenges from modernity and it is already displaying a trend of declining and therefore the study of it is both necessary and significant.

Brief Bio Note

Zuotang Zhang is a lecturer of Chinese at Georgia Southern University. He has a master’s degree in Religious Studies, and a doctoral degree in Language, Literacy and Culture. He has worked as a language teacher at various levels in China and the United States. His research interests are in language, culture and education.

Keywords

socio-cultural, socio-linguistic, function, nursery names, rural China

Location

Room 217

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-24-2017 2:35 PM

Embargo

11-3-2016

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Mar 24th, 2:35 PM

Socio-Cultural and Socio-Linguistic Functions of Nursery Names in Rural China

Room 217

This presentation reports a case study that examines an ancient child-naming tradition in a rural community in northwest China where the nursery names of children have profound socio-cultural significance, and the naming practice has five main socio-linguistic sub-functions: (1) imposing the hopes of their parents; (2) reflecting a religious healing ceremonial or the villagers’ negotiations with gods or demons whom they believe to wield controls over the social and physical lives of the people in the village; (3) marking an event that is meaningful to the family or the village; (4) showing sibling relations that is deemed important in agrarian culture and (5) names for girls that reflect gender inequality. While the tradition is a valuable key to Chinese rural culture, it is facing challenges from modernity and it is already displaying a trend of declining and therefore the study of it is both necessary and significant.