Onomastics in Interaction With Other Branches of Science. Volume 2.

Are Traditional Bulgarian Names Still Prestigious at the Beginning of the 21st Century? A Survey on Contemporary Bulgarian Baby Names

Maya Vlahova-Angelova
Institute for Bulgarian Language “Prof. Lyubomir Andreychin”
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences


It has been argued that in modern Bulgarian society, two specific groups of names are considered prestigious – those borrowed from a foreign language and a small number of names recognized as old, historical names, believed to be “genuine Bulgarian names” (Konstantinov, 1987). In addition, a certain share of traditional Bulgarian names are regarded as non-prestigious: those that are connected to Bulgarian folk traditions and beliefs. However, naming patterns in Bulgaria are still quite conservative. According to recent empirical studies on motives for name giving, commemorative naming remains the leading practice among Bulgarians. Considering this contradiction, the present study aims to investigate how popular some traditional Bulgarian names have been in the first two decades of the 21st century. More precisely, it focuses on a particular group of names – defined as “domestic” ones – Bulgarian in their origins and related to folk traditions, e.g., Denitsa, Radka, Svetlozara; Radostin, Zdravko, Miroslav, etc. Special emphasis is placed on analyzing the frequency of different name formation types and formants. This enables the identification of the most preferred names, on the one hand, and of the formation types still productive in the contemporary Bulgarian anthroponomasticon, on the other. Finally, some important inferences are made about the prestige those names have in modern Bulgarian society.

Keywords first names, Bulgarian, traditional, domestic, name frequency

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