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A hypocorism (from Greek ὑποκορίζεσθαι hypokorizesthai, "to use child-talk"[1]) is a shorter form of a word or given name, for example, when used in more intimate situations as a nickname or term of endearment.

Derivation

Hypocorisms are often generated as:

  • a reduction (in English) of a longer word to a single syllable, then adding -y or -ie to the end, such as movie ('moving picture'), telly ('television') or Aussie ('Australian').
  • a contracted form of a given name, such as Tony from Anthony, Rosy for Rosemarie or Vicky from Victoria.
  • a baby-talk form approximating the name's pronunciation, such as Bess for Elizabeth.
  • a given name with a diminutive suffix; in some languages diminutive forms of names are used primarily when referring to children and the meaning can oscillate between tenderness and condescension when used for an adult.
    • -(c)ito/-(c)ita or -(c)ín/-(c)ina in Spanish, such as Juanita from Juana. Extra consonants may be interposed as in Carmelina and Carmencita from Carmen, or merged, as in Carmina.
    • -chen, -lein, -(l)i (usually used with names) in German, such as Hündchen or Hündlein (from 'Hund', meaning dog) or Kalli (from 'Karl', a name); a back vowel in the root is normally subjected to umlaut, i.e. shift from u, o, a to ü, ö, ä respectively (e.g. Hund → Hündchen, Arm → Ärmchen, Holz → Hölzchen).
    • a similar form, -etto/-etta, in Interlingua.
    • the usual hypocoristic endings in the Dutch are in both words and personal names alike: -tje, -ke. When the name ends in a t or a d the ending is then a -je (e.g. Bert - Bertje). If the final consonant of a name is m, the ending is then -pje (e.g. Bram - Brampje) -metje (Bram - Brammetje) or -mie (Bram - Brammie). For the other consonants the hypocoristic form is -tje. In the southern parts of the Netherlands the hypocoristic form is often -ke (e.g. Peer - Peerke). Also in the Frisian the usual hypocoristic ending is -ke (e.g. Ype - Ypke). But this form (and others like -ske and -tsje) often makes the name feminine (e.g. Jetse - Jetske) like in Dutch (e.g. Jan - Jantje, Hans - Hansje). There is another productive hypocoristic ending: in the eastern part of the Netherlands (mostly in the province Drenthe), the female form is -chien Examples are Anne - Annechien, Lammert - Lammechien.
    • a parallel construction in Portuguese, with -(z)inho/-(z)inha, as in Aninha from Ana and Joãozinho from João.
    • same in Italian and Italian regional languages, with -ino/-ina and -etto/etta as in Paolino/Paoletto and Paolina/Paoletta from Paolo and Paola. There are also -ello/-ella, as in Donatello/Donatella from Donato and Donata, -uccio/-uccia, as in Guiduccio from Guido. The forms -uzzo/-uzza, as in Santuzza from Santa, are typical of Sicilian dialect.
    • -ĉj- and -nj- affixes (for males and females respectively) in Esperanto; these replace the last consonant (or consonant cluster) of the root, thus patro → paĉjo (father), patrino → panjo (mother).9
    • -chan, -tan, or -pi in Japanese, such as Kana-chan from Kana and Aki-chan from Akihiro. Gemination (doubling) of the consonant or lengthening of the vowel before the -chan to provide two moras is common, such as Settchan from Setsuko and Hii-chan from Hiroki.
  • reduplication in various languages, such as John-John or Didi.
  • in Standard Cantonese and related dialects, the addition of a word-final very high tone, or changed tone sometimes in combination with the addition of the prefix A before the name. The A syllable is also used in other dialects originating in southern China as a term of endearment or closeness.
  • -ulus/-ula in Latin, most famously in the case of the Roman emperor Caligula, whose moniker means "little boot". He received the name from soldiers in reference to the small army sandals (caligae, singular caliga) he wore when he was young. Likewise the name Ursula is derived from ursa (bear) and means "little bear".
  • "-eleh/-leh" in Yiddish. An example is Leah - Leahleh.

As evident from the above-mentioned examples, hypocorisms frequently demonstrate (indirectly) a phonological linguistic universal (or tendency) for high-pitched sounds to be used for smaller creatures and objects (here as more "cute" or less imposing names). Higher-pitched sounds are associated with smaller creatures due to the fact that smaller creatures can only make such high frequency sounds given their smaller larynx sizes.

The word "hypocorism" is the noun form in English; "hypocoristic" is the adjective form. Some other languages prefer to use the original Greek word "hypocoristicon" as a noun[citation needed]. The noun "hypocoristicon" seems to be rarely used in English[citation needed].

Hypocorisms in various languages

English

English also forms nicknames in a variety of manners.

Shortening, often to the first syllable:

  • AbrahamAbe
  • AnthonyTony
  • BenjaminBen
  • CarolynCarol, Lyn
  • ChristopherChris, Topher
  • GregoryGreg
  • JacobJake
  • KatrinaKat, Trina
  • MatthewMatt
  • MeganMeg
  • NathanNat , Nate
  • PeterPete
  • PriscillaCilla, Priss
  • RaymondRay
  • RobertRob, Bert
  • Samuel, SamanthaSam
  • VictoriaTori, Vick
  • ZacharyZach

Addition of the diminutive suffix, usually -ie or -y. It is often added to the end of an already shortened name. This suffix connotes smallness or endearment. Although most often applied to the names of children, it is not uncommon for an adult to be referred to by the diminutive, especially by family, friends and close acquaintances:

  • Alexander, AlexandraSandy
  • AnneAnnie
  • Arthur, ArturoArtArtie
  • AndrewAndy
  • BarnabyBarney
  • DanielDanDanny
  • DennisDenny
  • Edwin, Edward, EdmundEdEddie, Eddy
  • ElaineLainie
  • FranklinFrankFrankie
  • GeorgeGeorgie
  • IsabellaIzzy
  • JessicaJessJessie
  • Joel, JosephJoeJoey
  • KimberlyKimKimmy
  • KennethKenKenny
  • LawrenceLarry
  • LouisLouLouie
  • NicholasNickNicky
  • OliverOllie
  • RonaldRonRonnie
  • StephenSteveStevie
  • SusanSueSusie, Suzy
  • TimothyTimTimmy
  • TobiasToby
  • WilliamWill, Bill, Willie, Willy, Billy

A short form that differs significantly from the name:

  • BarbaraBabs
  • CharlesChuck
  • DorothyDot, Dottie
  • Eleanor, HelenNell, Nellie
  • ElizabethBess, Bessie
  • VirginiaGinger
  • HenryHal, Hank, Harry
  • JamesJimJimbo
  • KatherineKitty
  • RichardDick
  • SarahSally
  • TheodoreTed, Teddy

Esperanto

Esperanto forms nicknames by suffixing -njo (for females) and -ĉjo (for males) to the first letter(s) of the basic name. [2]

  • ElizabetoElinjo
  • MarioManjo
  • SofioSonjo
  • fratinofranjo
  • onklinoonjo
  • patrinopanjo
  • AleksandroAleĉjo
  • JohanoJoĉjo
  • PetroPeĉjo
  • fratofraĉjo
  • onklooĉjo
  • patropaĉjo

French

Informal French has a number of diminutive nicknames, although not as systematically as in English.

In French, for both male and female names, hypocorisms are most commonly formed by dropping the last syllable:

  • CatherineCathy
  • ChristelleChris
  • ChristopheChris
  • FrédéricFred
  • GrégoryGreg
  • Jean-MichelJean-Mi
  • PhilippePhil
  • StéphaneSteph
  • StéphanieSteph

Dropping the first syllable is also attested:

  • ChristopheTophe

Sometimes, only central syllables are kept:

  • AugustinGus
  • EmmanuelManu
  • EmmanuelleManu

Another method commonly used is doubling one syllable of the name:

  • AndréDédé
  • AnnieNini
  • AugustinTintin
  • ChristopheTotophe
  • JosephJojo
  • JulieJuju
  • LouisLoulou
  • all female names ending in -tineTitine

For male names, the ending -ot is attested, although its use is rather dated:

  • CharlesCharlot
  • JeanJeannot
  • JulesJulot
  • PierrePierrot

It was also sometimes (but rarely) used for females:

  • MargueriteMargot

The ending -et for males was used around the Renaissance, and is now obsolete:

  • HenriHenriquet
  • JacquesJacquet

For female names, the ending -ette was used in the first half of the 20th century, and even often given as the official name:

  • AnneAnnette
  • JeanneJeannette
  • MarieMariette
  • PaulePaulette

Some names in -ette are not actual hypocorisms, but the only existing femalized form of a male name:

  • Antoine (male) → Antoinette (female)
  • Pierre (male) → Pierrette (female)
  • Nicolas (male) → Nicolette (female) (rare and dated) → Colette

The ending -on is rarer, often dated or obsolete, used for both genders:

  • AntoinetteToinon
  • HenriRiton
  • MarieMarion
  • LouisLouison
  • LouiseLouison

The ending -ou is also rare:

  • AnneNanou

A special case is the ending in -ick/ -ic, which is the French writing for the hypocoristic form in Breton "-ig", used for both genders. The "-ig" form in Breton means "Little ...". This diminutive, in its French form of "ick" or "ic", became in vogue for official names in the second half of the 20th century:

  • Annick (original in Breton: Annaig), from Anne
  • Soizic (original: Soazig), from Frañsoaz, the Breton writing for the French "Françoise"
  • Loïc, probably from the French Louis
  • Yannick (original: Yannig), from Yann, meaning "John" in Breton

In Breton, the diminutive form "...ig" can be given to any kind of names, nouns or adjectives, (un tammig, a few), while in French it relates only to Christian names.

The name Soazig shows more than the ending "ig". Often in Breton a hypocoristic form of a Christian name can be made by putting away the first syllable. "Frañsoaz" becomes a familiar "Soaz" then, given to a child, the name is "Soazig", but not as an official name. This is also a difference between French and Breton: the diminutive ending "...ig" in Breton is only used as a temporary form for young children, while "...ick" is official and permanent in French names, and has lost his sense of a diminutive.

For words, French often produces hypocorisms either by truncating a word after the letter o, or by chopping off the end of the word and adding an o: McDo from McDonalds; gynéco from gynécologue; dico from dictionnaire; dodo (childish word for sleep, from dormir, to sleep); écolo from écologiste; catho from catholique; psycho from psychologie.

The ending -oche (with or without an intervening consonant or phoneme to make it easier to pronounce) is also sometimes used: cinoche (cinéma), MacDoche (McDonalds), fastoche (easy-peezy, from facile, easy). Words or names may also be shortened or abbreviated without an O: fixs from fixations, 'ski bindings'; Jean-Phi from Jean-Philippe; amphi from amphithéatre (large classroom or lecture hall); ciné (another informal word for cinéma). These words are familiar/informal versions of the underlying words.

The connotation of familiarity (my friend Jean-Phi, as opposed to my new work colleague Jean-Philippe; cinoche, the place I often go for entertainment, as opposed to cinéma, the neutral word for a movie theater) is what makes them hypocorisms.

German

  • AdolfAdi, Dolfz
  • BertoltBerni, Brecht
  • FriedrichFreddi, Karl
  • GustavGus, Gilroy
  • HeidiHei, Di
  • HeinrichHeini, Hendi
  • HildegaardHi, Gaard
  • JohannesJoe, Joseph, Brohannes (i.e., "Er ist doch total Brohannes")
  • KarlK, Friedrich
  • RichardChard, Rick
  • SigmundCiggy, Sag, Mund

Italian

Some diminutive forms can be further modified by abbreviation; one example is:

  • LuigiLuiginoGino

Polish

In Polish there are multiple affixes used to create the diminutive. Some of them are -ka, -sia, -cia, -unia, -enka, -śka, -lka for feminine nouns and -ek, -uś, -ciek, -czek, -uń, -eńki, -lki for masculine (among others). Here is a list of common names with some of them:

  • AgnieszkaAga
  • AleksandraOla, Oleńka
  • AleksanderOlek, Alek, Oluś
  • AnnaAnia, Anka, Anusia
  • Anna-MariaAnia
  • AntoniAntek
  • ArkadiuszArek, Aruś
  • BarbaraBasia, Baśka
  • BartłomiejBartek, Bartuś
  • BartoszBartek, Bartuś
  • DariuszDarek, Dareczek
  • EdwardEdek, Edzio
  • ElżbietaEla, Elżunia
  • EmilaEmilka, Emilie
  • EwaEwka, Ewusia
  • GrzegorzGrzesiek, Grześ
  • HenrykaHenia
  • HenrykHenio, Heniek
  • IwonaIwonka, Iwcia, Iwa, Iwka
  • JakubKuba, Kubuś
  • JarosławJarek, Jaruś
  • JanJaś, Janek, Janeczek
  • JanuszJanuszek
  • JerzyJurek, Jerzyk
  • JoannaJoasia, Asia
  • JuliaJulcia
  • KatarzynaKasia, Kaśka, Kasieńka, Kasiunia
  • KrzysztofKrzysiek, Krzyś
  • MaciejMaciek, Maciuś
  • MałgorzataMałgosia, Małgośka, Gośka, Gosia, Gosieńka
  • MariaMarysia, Maryśka, Marysieńka
  • MirosławMirek, Mireczek, Mirko, Miruś
  • PawełPawełek
  • PiotrPiotrek, Piotruś
  • RomanRomek, Romeczek, Romuś
  • RyszardRysiek
  • SławomirSławek
  • TadeuszTadek, Tadzio
  • TomaszTomek, Tomuś, Tomcio, Tomaszek, Tomeczek
  • WładysławWładek
  • WłodzimierzWłodek
  • WitoldWitek
  • WojciechWojtek, Wojtuś
  • ZofiaZosia, Zośka
  • ZbigniewZbyszek

Romanian

  • AdrianAdi
  • AlexandruAle, Alecu, Sandu
  • ConstantinCostică, Titi
  • CristianCristi
  • DanielDan, Dănuţ
  • DorinaDori
  • ElenaLenuţa
  • EugenJenică; EugeniaJeni
  • FernandaAnda
  • FlorentinaIna
  • GabrielGabi
  • GeorgetaGeta
  • GeorginaGina
  • GheorgheGeorgică, Gică, Gigi, Guţă
  • HoraţiuHori
  • IleanaNuţi
  • Ion, IoanIonel, Ionuţ, Nelu
  • MariaMărioara, Mimi, Mioara
  • MonicaMoni
  • NicolaeNicu, Nicuşor
  • OctavianTavi
  • OvidiuOvi
  • PetrePetrică
  • RalucaRalu, Uca
  • ŞtefanFane, Fănel, Ştefănel
  • TiberiuTibi
  • TeodorTeo
  • ValentinVali
  • VasileLică, Vasilică
  • VladVlăduţ

Russian

Russian has a wide variety of diminutive forms for names, to the point that for non-Russian speakers it can be difficult to connect a nickname to the original. Diminutive forms for nouns are usually distinguished with an -ik, -ok (-yok) (masculine gender), -chk-/-shk- and -on’k-/-en’k- suffixes. Names can be somewhat more arbitrary, but still follow a loose pattern. A list of common names and their diminutive forms:

  • AlekseyAlyosha, Alyoshen'ka, Alyoshka, Lyoshik, Lyosha, Lyoha
  • Aleksandr(a)Sasha, Sanya, Shura, Sashen'ka, Shurik, Sashka, San'ka, Sashechka, Shurka, Shurochka
  • AnastasiyaNastya, Asya, Nasten'ka, Nastyushka, Nastyona, Nast'ka
  • Andrey → Andryusha, Dron, Andryuha
  • AnnaAnya, Anyuta, Anyutka, Anechka, Annushka, Nyuta, Nyura, Nyurka, Nyusha
  • ArtyomTyoma
  • BoleslavSlava, Bolya
  • BorisBorya, Boren'ka, Boryusha, Bor'ka
  • DmitriyDima, Mitya, Miten'ka, Dimochka, Mityusha, Dimon, Mit'ka, Diman, Dimych
  • Galina Galya, Galechka,
  • GeorgiyGosha, Goga, Yuri
  • G(h)ermanGerma, Germusya, Musya, Gera, Gerusya, Gerukha, Gerusha, Gesha
  • GlebGlebka
  • GrigoriyGrisha
  • IrinaIra, Irochka, Irunya, Irisha, Irishka
  • IvanVanya, Ivanushka, Vanechka, Van'ka
  • KirillKiryusha, Kirya
  • KonstantinKostya, Kostenka, Kostik, Kost'ka
  • LeonidLyonya, Lyolik, Lyonуchka, Lyon'ka
  • MariyaMasha, Manya, Mashen'ka, Mashechka, Mashusha, Marusya, Murka, Mashka
  • MikhailMisha, Mishen'ka, Mishanya, Mishka, Mishunyok, Mishutka, Miha
  • NadezhdaNadya, Naden'ka, Nadyushka
  • NataliyaNatasha, Nata, Natashen'ka, Natusen'ka, Natusik, Natashka
  • NikolayKolya, Kolen'ka, Nikolen'ka, Nikolasha, Kol'ka, Kolyan
  • OksanaOksanka, Ksana, Sana, Kseniya
  • OlegOlezhka, Olezha, Olezhek, Olegushka, Lega, Lyoka, Lyosha
  • OlgaOlya, Olen'ka, Olechka
  • PavelPasha, Pashen'ka, Pavlik
  • PyotrPetya, Peten'ka, Petrusha, Petyunya
  • RadimirRadya, Dima, Mira
  • RobertRobka
  • RomanRoma, Romka, Romechka
  • SergeiSeryozha, Seryoga, Seryozhen'ka, Seryozhka, Seriy
  • StepanStyopa, Styopan'ka, Stepan'chik, Styopushka, Styopka
  • StanislavStasya, Stasyan, Stasik, Stasyuka, Stasenka
  • sofiya, sonya, sonechka, sofa, sofechka
  • TatyanaTanya, Tan'ushka, Tan'ka, Tanechka, Tan'chik
  • Bratislav, Vyacheslav and SvyatoslavSlava, Slavochka
  • SvetlanaSveta, Svetochka, Svetik, Svetyushka, Svetka
  • VadimVadik, Vadimka, Dima, Vadya, Vadisha, Vadyusha
  • ValeriyValera, Lera, Lerusha, Valerka
  • ViktoriyaVika
  • VladimirVolodya, Vova, Vovochka, Voloden'ka, Vovka, Volodka, Vovan
  • Yefim, Fima, Fimechka
  • YekaterinaKatya, Katerina, Katechka, Katen'ka, Katyukha, Katyusha, Kat'ka
  • Yevgeny(a) → Zhenya, Zhenechka, Zheka, Zhen'ka, Zhenich
  • YuriyYura, Yurka

Some names can also be modified with a -ka ending to add a further level of familiarity, but are not normally used for adults who are not family members.

Spanish

Spanish forms diminutives by adding one of several diminutive suffixes. -ito/a, -cito/a, -ecito/a, -ico/a, -cico/a -illo/a, -cillo/a, -uelo/a, -zuelo/a, -ete/a, -ín, -iño/a:

  • JuanaJuanitaJu
  • JorgeJorgitoJor
  • AntonioAntoñín, Antoñito, Antoñete, Antoñillo

It is common for a person to be known by 2 first names: José Luis, María Teresa, Juan Carlos etc. Combining the 2 names into one is another common way to form a hypocorism:

  • María TeresaMaritere, Mayte, Marite
  • María LuisaMarisa
  • María del CarmenMayca, Mamme, Mamen
  • María IsabelMaribel, Marisa
  • Luz MaríaLuzma
  • María FernandaMarifer
  • María SalvadoraMarisa
  • Juan CarlosJuanca
  • Juan EstebanJuanes
  • Juan ManuelJuanma
  • Juan MiguelJuanmi

Many Spanish nicknames, however, are or can seem very unlike the original name. Notice, however, that the -ch- /tʃ/ sound is very common in many of these diminutives:

  • AlbertoBerto, Beto
  • AlfonsoFon, Fonso, Fonsi, Poncho
  • AnastasioTasio, Tacho
  • AnicetoCheto
  • AntonioToño
  • BeatrizBea, Beti
  • CárlosCacho
  • ConcepciónConcha, Conchita, Conchi
  • ConsueloChelo
  • DiegoYago
  • DoloresLola
  • EduardoEdu, Lalo
  • EnriqueQuique, Rico
  • ErnestoNeto
  • FelicianoChano
  • FelipeFeli, Pipe
  • FedericoQuico, Kiko
  • FernandaFer, Nanda
  • FernandoFer, Nando, Fercho
  • FranciscoFran, Paco, Curro, Pancho, Pacho, Quico
  • GracielaChela, Gra
  • GuadalupeLupe, Lupita
  • GuillermoGuille, Guillo, Memo
  • IgnaciaNacha
  • IgnacioNacho
  • IsabelIsa, Chavela, Chabela, Chabel, Chava
  • JesúsChuy, Chus, Chucho, Suso
  • JorgeCoque
  • JoséPepe, Chepe
  • José MaríaChema, Josema
  • JuanJuancho, Juani
  • LauraLala, Lau, Yaya
  • LidiaYiya
  • LuisLucho, Güicho
  • LuisaLucha
  • ManuelManu, Manolo, Lolo
  • María FernandaMáfer
  • María JoséCoté, Marijose, Majo
  • MaximinaChimina
  • MiguelMigue
  • RamónMoncho, Monchi, Ramoncito
  • Refugio, María del RefugioCuca
  • RobertoRober, Berto, Beto
  • RosarioChayo, Charo
  • SantiagoSanti, Chago
  • SergioCheco
  • SilviaChiva
  • VicenteVicen, Chente

Also, several names (especially female) may have their endings cut off and the vowel -"i" added at the end in the formation of pet names:

  • BeatrizBeti
  • JavierJavi (m.),Javy
  • LeticiaLeti
  • Pilar, María del PilarPili
  • SusanaSusi

Swedish

Male hypocorisms are often based on the first syllable of the name (shortening it if it's long), plus the ending -"e":

  • AndersAdde, Ante
  • AndreasAdde, Ante
  • BengtBengan, Benke
  • BoBosse
  • DanielDanne
  • FilipFille
  • FransFrasse
  • FredrikFredde
  • GustavGurra
  • HenrikHenke
  • HenningHenke
  • JanJanne
  • JoakimJocke
  • JohnJonte
  • JonatanJonte
  • KarlKalle
  • KristerKrille
  • KristianKrille
  • KristofferKrille, Stoffe
  • LarsLasse
  • LeifLeffe
  • MagnusMange
  • MikaelMicke
  • OskarOrre
  • PerPelle, Perra
  • PontusPutte
  • RolandRolle
  • SebastianSebbe, Basse
  • SigvardSigge
  • StefanSteffe
  • SvenSvempa, Svenne
  • TobiasTobbe
  • TomasTompa
  • TorbjörnTobbe
  • TorstenTotta
  • UlfUffe
  • ViktorVicke
  • VilhelmVille

These forms may be quite old: the oldest possible attestation may be the name Sibbi on the Rök Runestone dating to approx. 800 AD.

See also

References

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, online edition: "hypocorism". Retrieved 24 June 2008.
  2. ^ http://www.esperanto.mv.ru/Seppik/lec19.html







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