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Abstract

In the article the author discusses the practice associated with name-giving among the residents of Łódź (only Catholics of Polish origin) during the period from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the first half of the nineteenth century. The material was collected from official documents. Habits associated with the first names were treated as a kind of linguistic behaviour that implements a specific communication need of the given community. Observations of these habits show that they oscillate — like any linguistic behaviour — between automatism (and convention) and spontaneity. Conventional measures that should be considered: the use of a limited collection of names that indicate a high degree of stability in subsequent periods and against the background of habits of name-giving in the region and other territories of the former Poland (especially the most popular names of women, e.g. Marianna, Katarzyna, Agnieszka and names of men, e.g. Józef, Jan, Franciszek) and inheritance of names. In contrast, a large number of rare names (names of women, e.g. Idalia, Jokasta, Kasylda, and of men, e.g. Bonawentura, Wit, Witalis) and a visible preference in some families for the usage of rare names, e.g. Damazy, Feliks, Lubomira (including Slavic first names, e.g. Bolesław, Władysław, Bronisław) were included as spontaneous factors. Analysis of the material reveals a tendency to differentiate names depending on the social status of the inhabitants (the representatives of the noble families often used rare names). The author also draws attention to the problem of the diversity of names in Łódź (both in the context of different collections of names and different practices) depending on parameters such as the religion (Catholics, Protestants, Jews) and nationality (Poles, Germans, Czechs) of residents of the city.
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