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A Substitute Name System in the Scottish Highlands

Nancy C. Dorian
American Anthropologist
New Series, Vol. 72, No. 2 (Apr., 1970), pp. 303-319
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/671573
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
A Substitute Name System in the Scottish Highlands
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Abstract

The high incidence of identical names among Gaelic speakers in East Sutherland leads to the use of "by-names" almost to the exclusion of official names. Several varieties of by-names are highly offensive. Appropriate use of the offensive varieties demands an intimate knowledge of the communities' social structure available only to their members; by-name misuse is consequently a source of social tension between Gaelic speakers and English speakers in the area. Nonetheless the practice of by-naming has spread to the English-speaking population, where the entertainment value of by-names takes precedence over their utilitarian value in distinguishing individuals bearing the same name

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