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„Also wurde Kaspar umgetauft in Willi“

Zur Umbenennung von Gesinde bei Dienstantritt

Simone Busley

Pages 105 - 125

Abstract: This article discusses the renaming of servants in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a widespread practice for employers to give their servants a new first name. The motives and functions of renaming were largely dependent on the type of household in which the servant was working. In rural households, the social distance between servants and employers was small. Farmhands and maids were integrated into the family. Here first names were primarily changed to differentiate family members and to ensure monoreference. The baptismal name was usually only modified, e. g., by the formation of short forms such as ‚Fritz‘ < ‚Friedrich‘. In middle-class households, servants were strictly separated from their employers, which can be seen in various linguistic and non-linguistic practices. Here, servants were not only renamed if their first name already existed in the family. Moreover, the baptismal name was not modified, but exchanged for a different first name. The employers often chose a name that was stereotypical for servants (e. g. ‚Minna‘ or ‚Emma‘). Such names were in some cases deonymized and became part of idioms (e. g. ‚jemanden zur Minna machen‘ ‘(to) rebuke someone’). Some of those are still associated with servants in a negative way.


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