English Today

Original Articles

Englishised names?

Peter K. W. Tan a1
a1 Department of English Language and Literature, National University of Singapore


An analysis of naming patterns among ethnic-Chinese Singaporeans.

The study of names (or, to give it its Sunday name, onomastics) has not always been accorded high academic prestige and is often thought of as a non-specialist's hobby horse. The fact that most books on naming in bookshops seem to address only prospective parents who need to name their child also does not give the study a high standing. In the university context, this is not something that receives a lot of attention, except within semantics and philosophy where the status of names (as opposed to other words) has been discussed; and within the history of English where place names are studied in relation to their etymology. In this journal, though, attention has been given to commercial names (Banu & Sussex (2001), McArthur (2000)) because of interesting instances of hybridisation involving English and other languages.