Identifying middle names in onomastic profiles. Exploring the usage of middle names in the 19th century Denmark through the census of 1880.

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Middle names in Denmark have a long and varied history. Today, approximately one in three Danes has a middle name; until the 19th century, however, such names were used almost exclusively among the nobility, with lesser usage among the clergy and bourgeoisie. During the 19th century, Denmark underwent profound societal changes and saw the introduction of restrictive naming legislation. These may have had an impact on the increasing usage of middle names across a larger part of the population, which can be read out of a comparison of the names registered in the Danish censuses of 1787 and 1880.
This survey explores the changing usage of middle names during this period by analysing onomastic profiles as they occur in the Danish census of 1880, which records almost 2 million inhabitants of all ages. A methodology has been devised for identifying middle names which, with certain reservations, identifies the presence or absence of middle names in the onomastic profiles of approximately 98% of the individuals listed in the source, of which 6.2% are shown to bear a middle name. Quantitative analysis reveals large differences in usage of middle names across geography and various demographic criteria such as sex, age and relative urbanity, showing that middle names are used much more frequently among males and that frequency among both sexes increases markedly towards the end of the period under consideration. The potential forces behind these apparent disparities are discussed and some tentative conclusions drawn.
TidsskriftOnoma: Journal of the International Council of Onomastic Sciences
Vol/bind50, 2015 [2019]
Sider (fra-til)69-94
Antal sider26
StatusUdgivet - 2018

ID: 204341912