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LINGUIST List 25.267

Wed Jan 15 2014

Sum: Results of survey on accidental name substitutions

Editor for this issue: Alex Isotalo <alxlinguistlist.org>

Date: 15-Jan-2014
From: Zenzi Griffin <zgriffinutexas.edu>
Subject: Results of survey on accidental name substitutions
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Dear colleagues,
About 8 years ago I placed a request on the Linguist List for participants in a survey on name substitutions. I wish to thank the many people who responded. The results have finally been published. The abstract and link to the open access, peer-reviewed article are below.

Thank you,
Dr. Zenzi M. Griffin
University of Texas at Austin

Griffin, Z. M., & Wangerman, T. (2013). Parents Accidentally Substitute Similar Sounding Sibling Names More Often than Dissimilar Names. PLOS ONE, 8(12), e84444.



When parents select similar sounding names for their children, do they set themselves up for more speech errors in the future? Questionnaire data from 334 respondents suggest that they do. Respondents whose names shared initial or final sounds with a sibling’s reported that their parents accidentally called them by the sibling’s name more often than those without such name overlap. Having a sibling of the same gender, similar appearance, or similar age was also associated with more frequent name substitutions. Almost all other name substitutions by parents involved other family members and over 5% of respondents reported a parent substituting the name of a pet, which suggests a strong role for social and situational cues in retrieving personal names for direct address. To the extent that retrieval cues are shared with other people or animals, other names become available and may substitute for the intended name, particularly when names sound similar.
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics

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