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Impearls: HIC 5.11: Names

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Earthdate 2005-11-12

Names   by A. L. Kroeber

Children were named only after they had attained several years; as the Karok say, so that, “if they died young, they would not be thought of by their names.”  People will not tell their own names, and are exceedingly reluctant to mention those of their kinsmen and friends, even if the latter are not present to be embarrassed.  It is a penalized offense to speak the name of a dead person and the height of bad manners to use that of a living person to his face, unless the closest intimacy exists.  Even in reference to living people clumsy circumlocutions spring up, such as Panamenik-wapu, “born at (or belonging to) Orleans,” or designations by allusion to the particular house inhabited.  This feeling causes even derogatory nicknames, such as Pihnefich, “coyote,” to be preferred to the real name.  In address, terms such as “old man,” “Hupa man,” “widower,” “married woman,” “widow,” are very frequent.  Most of the personal names seem to us very trivial, when they are not based on some peculiarity of habit; but in the case of girls there appears some inclination to bestow names that are pretty.  Perhaps these are secondary pet names, just as the designations by occupation or characteristic are probably not true personal names.  A few examples are: Akuni-hashki, “shoots swiftly”; Kemhisem, “roamer” or “traveler”; Anifakich, “walks down hill slowly”; Ma'ikiviripuni, “runs down from up the hill”; Sichakutvaratiha, “wide belt”; Taharatan, “flint flaker” or “bullet molder”; and for girls, I'niwach, “dripping water”; Hatimnin, “butterfly.”



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