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Anthroponymy (also anthroponymics or anthroponomastics, from Ancient Greek ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos / 'human', and ὄνομα onoma / 'name') is the study of anthroponyms, the proper names of human beings, both individual and collective. Anthroponymy is a branch of onomastics.
Researchers in the field of anthroponymy are called anthroponymists. Since the study of anthroponyms is relevant for several other disciplines within social sciences and humanities, experts from those disciplines engage in anthroponymic studies, including researchers from the fields of anthropology, history, human geography, sociology, prosopography, and genealogy.
Anthroponymists are required to follow certain principles, rules and criteria when researching anthroponyms. The methods used for research are divided into two major categories: the collecting of anthroponymic information and the analysis and interpretation of anthroponyms. The collection of anthroponymic information includes: inscriptions, documents, onomastics-tax records, dictionaries, phone books, monographs, and websites, which are used afterward for mapping purposes. The analysis and interpretation of anthroponyms take into account the processing of the collection of the information gathered, which consists of linguistic analysis, comparative-historical method, geographical method, and statistical method.
Anthroponymy of individual and family names, and their mutual correlations, includes the study of:
Anthroponyms of individuals can also be classified according to gender. Names of human males are called andronyms (from Ancient Greek ἀνήρ / man, and ὄνομα / name), while names of human females are called gynonyms (from Ancient Greek γυνή / woman, and ὄνομα / name).
Anthroponymy of group and population names includes the study of demonyms (names of localized populations), ethnonyms (names of ethnic groups), as well as tribal names and clan names.
Anthroponymy is a socio-cultural tool that can be used to find out about an individual’s culture. Through the name of a person, their nationality, as well as their history, can be traced. Anthroponyms have both a national and cultural significance as they guarantee the preservation of linguistics, cultural, and historical information.
There are several specific terms and processes related to anthroponymy, like: