query: sarcastic antonymic nicknames

Siva Kalyan sivakalyan.princeton at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 26 14:59:55 UTC 2009

Returning for a moment to Mike Morgan's Marathi example, I don't think the
name "Shweta" for a dark-skinned woman is sarcastic. Shweta is a fairly
typical given name (not a nickname), and also I don't know whether it's the
everyday Marathi word for "white", or whether it's simply a borrowing from
Sanskrit. I'm not a Marathi speaker (I come from a Tamil-speaking family),
but to me it seems that speakers wouldn't really think of the literal
meaning of the name.

2009/11/26 David Gil <gil at eva.mpg.de>

> 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.
> David
>  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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