query: sarcastic antonymic nicknames

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Thu Nov 26 14:47:50 UTC 2009

There is something similar (if not identical) in Indonesia, where little 
children are often addressed, by their parents and others, as "elder 
brother/sister/sibling", even if they have no younger sibling who would 
constitute an appropriate "reference point" for such an appelation.  I'm 
pretty certain, however, that such usages in Indonesia do not usually 
involve humour or sarcasm or anything like that.


> come to think of it, you might also include address inversion under 
> this general sort of rubric -- though it's certainly not sarcastic (is 
> it ironic?):  like when a grandparent addresses a grandchild as 
> '(little) grandparent' (grandpa, granny), or an uncle addresses a 
> nephew as '(little) uncle'.
> Leo Spitzer had a paper on this, Ueber Personenvertauschung in der 
> Ammensprache (1920ies).  More recently, Winfried Boeder looked at this 
> as an areal phenomenon, I believe:  but you'll have to ask him for 
> details himself.
> Frans
> On Nov 26, 2009, at 3:23 PM, Dolgor Guntsetseg wrote:
>> oh sorry, I forgot such cases. I think that is possible. But not 
>> common. Unfortunately, I have no instances at the moment.
>> BTW, we say to the children, mostly babies "How *ugly* is he/she!" or 
>> someting like that. But it is not negative, not sarcastic. It means 
>> "How sweet/cute is he/she".
>> Gunne
>> David Gil schrieb:
>>> Gunne,
>>> But are any of the Mongolian nicknames you are familiar with 
>>> antonymic?  That is to say, do any of them refer to a property that 
>>> is the *opposite* of the one that the person possesses?
>>> David
>>>> Dear all,
>>>> in Mongolian, such nicknames are normal. Most people have a 
>>>> nickname, sometimes two or more. The way to give a nickname is 
>>>> differently, sometimes it concerns certain character, sometimes 
>>>> description of body parts and so on. And most of these nicknames 
>>>> are humorous. Here are some examples:
>>>> One friend of mine has the nickname "eyebrow". He got this nickname 
>>>> therefore, if he is drunken (just after two or three bottles 
>>>> beer),  he has upside-down V eyebrows.
>>>> Another one has the nickname "muscle". Yes, he has big muscle, but 
>>>> that is not the reason. He always tries to show his muscles (if 
>>>> there are girls!) doing it quite casually. Unlike to Eyebrow, 
>>>> Mucscle does not like his nickname, so people do not use this 
>>>> nickname before his  face.
>>>> Gunne
> Frans Plank
> Sprachwissenschaft
> Universität Konstanz
> 78457 Konstanz
> Germany
> Tel  +49 (0)7531 88 2656
> Fax +49 (0)7531 88 4190
> eMail frans.plank at uni-konstanz.de <mailto:frans.plank at uni-konstanz.de>

David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at eva.mpg.de
Webpage:  http://www.eva.mpg.de/~gil/

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