Vol. 70 No. 1 (2022): Names: A Journal of Onomastics

Revisiting Semantic Issues of Proper Names: A Vietnamese Perspective

Nguyen Viet Khoa
Ha Noi University of Science & Technology

Published 2022-03-09


  • semantics,
  • anthroponymy,
  • toponymy,
  • Viet Nam,
  • Vietnamese,
  • Mill,
  • Frege
  • ...More


The semantic status of proper names in linguistics and language philosophy has been comprehensively studied. It has long been held that proper names are mainly used to refer to certain entities, not to describe them. However, while Millian theorists claim that proper names do not possess a lexical meaning but directly refer to a certain entity, Fregean scholars assert that proper names do carry meanings, and the problem is just about the “meaning” employed. This paper argues that the Mill-Frege dichotomy can be bridged from the Vietnamese perspective by using proper name specifics of the Vietnamese language, and that as a cultural universal, names convey both denotational and connotational contents. However, the content of names can only be determined in each specific language community based on clarification of traditional and cultural values embodied in the naming process.


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