Psychology & Psychiatry

Slips of the lip stay all in the family

It's happened to many of us: While looking right at someone you know very well, you open your mouth and blurt out the wrong name. The name you blurt is not just any old name, though, says new research from Duke University ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Psychology study shows it's all in the name

A study involving Victoria University of Wellington researchers shows people trust strangers with easier-to-pronounce names—even if those strangers are all from the same country.

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Name

A name is a word or term used for identification. Names can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. A personal name identifies a specific unique and identifiable individual person, and may or may not include a middle name. The name of a specific entity is sometimes called a proper name (although that term has a philosophical meaning also) and is a proper noun. Other nouns are sometimes, more loosely, called names; an older term for them, now obsolete, is "general names".

The use of personal names is not unique to humans. Dolphins also use symbolic names, as has been shown by recent research. Individual dolphins have distinctive whistles, to which they will respond even when there is no other information to clarify which dolphin is being referred to.

Caution must be exercised when translating, for there are ways that one language may prefer one type of name over another. A feudal naming habit is used sometimes in other languages: the French sometimes refer to Aristotle as "le Stagirite" from one spelling of his place of birth, and English speakers often refer to Shakespeare as "The Bard", recognizing him as a paragon writer of the language. Finally, claims to preference or authority can be refuted: the British did not refer to Louis-Napoleon as Napoleon III during his rule.

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