Dictionary of Algerian denominational practices: Uses and Representations

From 01/01/2018

To     31/12/2020

Project supervisor  : YERMECHE Ouerdia


Team members:







The onomastics or sciences of the proper names is an area of inexhaustible reflection as its object is important in the definition of man and his universe. This research project is a continuation of the reflection carried out over several years, within the framework of PNR projects and RASYD / CRASC establishment projects on the problems onomastic in general and anthroponymic in particular.

In the previous projects we have initiated, the PNR Project "Anthroponymy and Marital Status: Nomination and Writing of Patronyms in Algeria", and "Algerian Anthroponyms: Oral Uses, Graphic Transcriptions and Standardization" The reflection focused on the functioning of the Algerian patronymic name, on its symbolic and semantic logic, and finally on its evolution through history. Moreover, we have reflected on the genesis of the patronymic name, which is closely linked to the creation of civil status by the French colonial administration. Our study examined the consequences of this new nomination procedure, which was in reality a process of appointment and appointment of the Algerian. The other part of our research is the one that consisted of listing the graphical dysfunctions of the Algerian proper names first in French during the colonial period, in Arabic then by the Algerian administration of independence.

During these years of investigations, observations and analyzes of anthroponymic data, we have noticed the preponderance of cultural facts on the production of the proper name in general and of the anthroponym in particular. Indeed, this lexical category, which is the proper name, reflects the habits and customs of the nominators. The act of naming is never fortuitous but always predetermined by historical-ideological, political, socio-economic and cultural factors.

In this project, with our knowledge in the field of anthroponymy, we want to pursue our reflection by extending it to all the denominational practices of Algerians. Our goal is twofold:

As a first step, we will endeavor to analyze the denominational practices of our fellow citizens at the national level. We shall study the anthroponym "in all its forms", in its relation to culture, customs, and society in general. We will be particularly interested in the production of proper names through Algerian space, their uses, their mode (s) of transmission, the representations that users make of the appointment but also the evolution of Denominational practices across space and time. We will try to understand the procedures and criteria that determine the act of naming, the socio-cultural and anthropological aspects that influence the realization of anthroponyms. All anthroponymic categories, first names, nicknames, nicknames, hypocoristics and pseudonyms will be reviewed and studied. Our field of study will not stop at profane denominational forms, but will extend to the forms of denomination that belong to the religious (hagionyms, theophoric names, divine names). Given the cultural variety of our country, we will study Algerian anthroponymy across several regions of the country to store as many names as possible, reflecting the diversity of jobs that is generated by the cultural diversity that characterizes Algeria. To do this, we will work on several samples of anthroponyms collected in different regions of the north of the country (Algiers, Tizi-Ouzou, Constantine, Setif, Biskra, Relizane, Mostaganem ...).

In addition, another part of our study on anthroponymic names concerns the names theophores and hagionyms (names of saints). Their observation will allow us to grasp the symbolism of this particular denominational practice. It will inform us about the religious practices of our fellow citizens and their relationship to the spiritual.

Also in the religious onomastics category, a third part of our research will be particularly interested in a denominational category "apart from anthroponymy", that is, the divine names as first identified in the sacred text, the Koran, and then as translate in French. We will particularly consider the translatability of the proper name in general and of the divine name in particular and the degree of "fidelity" of translations in general and more specifically of the translation of the divine name from Arabic into French. Is language-to-language translation possible knowing the impact of identity paradigms on the proper name? Is the divine name monosemic or does it give rise to several interpretations of meaning? The language of translation (here French) is able to translate these divine names without altering the meaning. Are not the cultural and ideological parameters of the translator (s) likely to direct the translation of the divine name so as to alter its original meaning?

Our second objective is to develop a "Dictionary of Algerian denominational practices: uses and representations". This heavy project of writing a dictionary of the proper names of people represents the culmination of all our investigations during this project but also during previous work. It will contain all the anthroponymic units listed so far, classified by headings, with the information collected in the written documents and with the citizens. The finalized dictionary will be a first in the history of Algerian anthroponymic dictionaries and will be a unique and valuable source of information on the way (s) to identify themselves by the Algerians.


The axes of our research are defined as follows:

-1. The first-person practice: uses and evolutions

  1. Secondary denominational practices: nicknames, nicknames,

Hypocoristics and pseudonyms: uses and representations

-3. Theophoric names and hagionyms (names of saints): their symbolic

-4. Divine Names and Translation

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