Journal article Open Access

Some principles for language names

Haspelmath, Martin

This paper discusses eleven principles of language naming, which may be relevant to language documenters in case a language does not have a stable name yet: (i) Language names (like city names) are loanwords, not code-switches; (ii) Names of non-major languages are not treated differently from names of major languages; (iii) Each language has a unique name; (iv) New language names are not introduced unless none of the existing names is acceptable for some reason; (v) Language names that many speakers object to should not be used; (vi) Language names in English are written with ordinary English letters, plus some other well-known letters; (vii) Highly unusual pronunciation values of English letters are not acceptable; (viii) Language names must be pronounceable for English speakers; (ix) Language names begin with a capital letter; (x) Language names may have a modifier-head structure; (xi) The usage of prominent authors is given substantial weight. Finally I note that it is not a principle that the English name needs to be close to the autoglottonym.

http:.//hdl.handle.net/10125/24725
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