Associative Identification of Proper Names: A Cognitive Approach




proper name, associative experiment, stimulus, association, cognitive onomastics


Mental lexicon is a storage which holds the data about everything we know until it is required to be used. Onyms are stored in the mental lexicon in the form of concepts as individual units of knowlegde which reflect personal experience of the human being. The goal of the research is to explore the common ways of associative comprehension of proper names in order to better understand their essence and meanings they exhibit. The view is substantiated that transition from traditional to cognitive onomastic research will help to settle disputes among onomasticians and language philosophers as to the controversial subject of semantic and referential status of proper names.

The study is carried out on the material of the English official horse names as they are considered to be one of the proper name classes with the highest degree of arbitrariness of nomination. In this research, the author conducts a free associative experiment with 250 English native speakers. As the experimental material 5 stimuli of official hipponyms were chosen as well as the results of a free associative experiment of total quantity of 1136 reactions. The result of the study was the conclusion that the ways of associative identification of onyms depend not only on our presuppositional knowledge, direct or indirect experience in connection to a certain proper name, but also on a set of proprial and linguistic features peculiar to each name. The specificity of each proper name in this sense will determine the main mechanism of its associative identification.


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Author Biography

Natalia ALEKSIEIEVA, Odesa I. I. Mechnikov National University, Odessa, Ukraine

is a postgraduate student of the Department of English Grammar, Odesa I. I. Mechnikov National University, Odessa, Ukraine. Her areas of interest include general linguistics, psycholinguistics, cognitive onomastics, theoretical grammar. She has taken part in 8 international conferences. Aleksieieva is the author of 15 scientific articles. Recent publications: “Associative Potential of English Hipponyms”, “Structure of Individual Hipponymic Subframe”, “Mental Being of Hipponyms: Application of Free Associative Experiment and Basic Strategies of Association”, “Word-Building and Motivational Features of English Official Hipponyms”.


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How to Cite

ALEKSIEIEVA, N. (2021). Associative Identification of Proper Names: A Cognitive Approach. WISDOM, 18(2), 194–203.