Nicknames in Australian secondary schools: insights into nicknames and adolescent views of self

Starks, Donna and Taylor-Leech, Kerry and Willoughby, Louisa (2012) Nicknames in Australian secondary schools: insights into nicknames and adolescent views of self. In: 42nd Australian Linguistics Society Conference (ALS 2011): Applied Linguistics as a Meeting Place, 1-4 Dec 2011, Canberra, Australia.


Seventeen per cent of Australians currently report regularly using a language other than English (Lo Bianco 2009, p. 14). In this multilingual and multicultural context, a study of young people's nicknaming practices is particularly appropriate. Although it widely known that language practices can significantly affect adolescent self image, research studies on young people's naming practices are surprisingly scarce. The only study to date on nicknames in Australia was undertaken by Chevalier (2006) and focuses on the morphological and semantic features of nicknames. Although Chevalier suggests that Australians of non English-speaking backgrounds may differ in their naming practices from other Australians, she makes no reference to adolescent language practices and their role in society. Our research examines naming practices in conjunction with other aspects of language use. Our exploration of initial responses to questionnaire data administered to secondary students of English and non-English speaking backgrounds in Victoria and Queensland schools, will consider: (i) common nicknaming practices; (ii) the relationship between language background and attitudes towards nicknaming amongst adolescents. We end with suggestions for raising awareness of naming practices to promote cultural and linguistic sensitivity amongst Australian high school students.

Chevalier, S. 2006. Ava to Zac: A sociolinguistic study of given names and nicknames in Australia. Tubingen: Francke Verlag.
Lo Bianco, J. (2009). Second languages and Australian schooling. Camberwell, Vic: Australian Council for Educational Research.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Poster)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: The copyright of each article remains with its author(s).
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Education
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2014 23:29
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 04:10
Uncontrolled Keywords: nicknames; naming practices; Australian school students
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170113 Social and Community Psychology
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2004 Linguistics > 200405 Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics)
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130106 Secondary Education
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950202 Languages and Literacy

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