This book proposes a new synthesis of the functions of proper names, from a
semantic, pragmatic and syntactic perspective. Proper names are approached
constructionally, distinguishing prototypical uses from more marked ones
such as those in which names are used as common nouns. Since what is
traditionally regarded as 'the' class of names turns out to be only one
possible function of name-forms (though a prototypical one), the notion of
'proprial lemma' is introduced as the concept behind both proprial and
appellative uses of such categories as place names and personal names. New
formal arguments are adduced to distinguish proper name function from
common noun or pronoun function.
The special status of proper names is captured in a unified
pragmatic-semantic-syntactic theory: a proper name denotes a unique entity
at the level of langue to make it psychosocially salient within a given
basic level category. The meaning of the name, if any, does not determine
its denotation. An important formal reflection of this characterization of
names is their ability to appear in such close appositional constructions
as the poet Burns or Fido the dog. The neurolinguistic finding that proper
names constitute a separate category is introduced and interpreted within a
general linguistic frame of reference. The different kinds of meanings
associated with names (categorical, associative, emotive, and grammatical)
are shown to be presuppositional in nature. In addition, the book proposes
an entirely new classification of proper names as forming a continuum
ranging from prototypical (personal and place names) to nonprototypical
categories (brand and language names) to citations and autonyms, and a new
diachronic classification of family names and nicknames.
This book fills an important gap in the current literature, because the
most recent linguistic book in English on name theory dates back to 1973.
It is explicitly interdisciplinary, taking into account linguistic,
philosophical, neurolinguistic, sociolinguistic and dialect geographical
aspects of proper names.