Dog Naming Strategies in Beijing, China

Author: Tereza Slaměníková (Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts, Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic)
Speaker: Tereza Slaměníková
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


China is experiencing a boom in pet ownership since the beginning of the new millennium. The notable number of dog walkers, strolling through the streets and public parks, are an obvious sign of dogs being one of the most often sought-after companion animals. One of the first steps associated with having a dog is usually the selection of a suitable name. This paper examines how the growing phenomenon of dog breeding is reflected in the Chinese onomastic system. First, it provides the general linguistic characteristics of the dog names, i.e. describing the repeatedly occurring word-formation patterns and thematic categories of the lexical items used to create dog names, as well as addressing the issue of the motives behind the names. Second, it examines whether dog name practices in China follow the existing conventions described in relation to other languages. The results of the analysis indicate that, unlike the situation observed in Western languages, Chinese dog names seem not only to exhibit signs of anthromorphization, but also to preserve the pre-modern practice of name selection based on the dog’s physical and mental qualities or reflecting the circumstances under which the dog came to the family, and thus represent a unique combination of earlier and modern-day dog naming practices.

Keywords: Modern Chinese, Zoonyms, Urbozoonyms, Chinese dog names, Anthropomorphization