Proper Name

The proper name argument scheme corresponds to topic n° 28 of Aristotle’s Rhetoric, “another topic is derived from the meaning of the name. For instance, Sophocles says, ‘Certainly thou art iron, like thy name’.” (Rhet., II. 23, 1400b29, Freese, p. 323). The example is a pun on the proper name of the hero and the word meaning “iron”.

Unlike the nickname, which claims to refer to a characteristic of the individual, the proper name is not motivated; it does not mean its bearer. When the proper name (first name or last name) of a person is homonymous with a common name, the topic of the name attributes to the person the characteristics of the homonymous thing; he or she is re-categorized as a non-human being, which may be less-than-flattering. The name functions as an index from which truths about the person might be inferred. Aggravated by the infinite resources of paronomasia, and rhyme, proper names can be the basis for all kinds of derivations, particularly, although not exclusively in the school playground:

You are Peter [Lat. Petrus], and on this rock [Lat. petram] I will build my church.
(Matthew, 16:18)

June will be the end of May[1]

Being named Peter, and thus being like a rock, is being apt to be a foundation: the name is an aptonym, the character and destiny of the person are pre-inscribed in his or her name. Mr. Child is of course a pediatrician, or a teacher or perhaps he has a childish character; the aptonym reinforces the person’s suitability for his task or confirms the attribution of a trait of character. Referring to John R. Searle as Sarl, (French acronym for “Limited Liability Company”, Inc.) Derrida re-casts, fairly or not, Searle’s work as a kind of business.[2]. S. True Meaning of the Word; Ambiguity.

[1] The slogan appeared during the campaign for general elections to be hold in June 2017, Mrs Theresa May serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 2016.

[2] Jacques Derrida, Limited Inc. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1988.