Uses in Various Societies
In Viking societies, many people had nicknames heiti, viðrnefni, or uppnefni which were used in addition to, or instead of their family names. In some circumstances the giving of a nickname had a special status in Viking society in that it created a relationship between the name maker and the recipient of the nickname, to the extent that the creation of a nickname also often entailed a formal ceremony and an exchange of gifts.
Slaves have often used nicknames, so that the master who heard about someone doing something could not identify the slave. In capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, the slaves had nicknames to protect them from being caught, as practicing capoeira was illegal for decades.
In Anglo-American culture, a nickname is often based on a shortening of a person's proper name, a diminutive. However, in other societies, this may not necessarily be the case.
In Indian society, for example, generally people have at least one nickname (call name or affection name) and these affection names are generally not related to the person's proper name. Indian nicknames very often are a trivial word or a diminutive (such as Bablu, Dabbu, Banti, Babli, Gudiya, Golu, Sonu, Chhotu, Raju, Adi, Ritu, etc.).
In Indonesia, nicknames are often considered more polite and affectionate, especially when the real name exceeds two syllables. Former Indonesian presidents Abdurrahman Wahid and Achmed Sukarno were usually called 'Gus Dur' and 'Bung Karno', respectively.
In Australian society, Australian men will often give ironic nicknames. For example, a man with red hair will be given the nickname 'Blue' or 'Bluey'.
In Chinese culture, nicknames are frequently used within a community amongst relatives, friends and neighbors. A typical Chinese nickname often begins with a "阿" followed by another character, usually the last character of the person's given name. For example, Taiwanese politician Chen Shui-bian (陈水扁) is sometimes referred as "阿扁" (A-Bian). In many Chinese communities of Southeast Asia, nicknames may also connote one's occupation or status. For example, the landlord might be known simply as Towkay (Hokkien for "boss") to his tenants or workers while a bread seller would be called "Mianbao Shu" 面包叔 (literally, Uncle Bread). Amongst Cantonese-speaking communities, the character "仔" (pronounced "zai") may be used in a similar context of "Junior" in Western naming practices.
Read more about this topic: Monicker
Famous quotes containing the word societies:
“As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.”
—Gore Vidal (b. 1925)