CANCELLED - Names and Naming Practices

An international summer school (BA and MA-levels, 7.5 ECTS) 7 August - 17 August 2023 with a written home assignment, deadline 31 August 2023. 

During this summer school students will learn about names and naming from a comparative, multidisciplinary perspective. Names constitute an essential part of cultural heritage. They are closely intertwined with the respective culture and reveal a great deal about the name-giving society. Names are primarily used to identify, they single out certain people, places or objects. However, consciously or unconsciously, names also contain a wide range of social connotations. Thus name choices directly reflect attitudes of language users towards the named entity. Despite their central position in language and communication, names rarely constitute an integral part of language studies. The summer school seeks to fill this gap. The course is open to Danish as well as international students and will be taught in English. It will be composed of lectures, workshops, and field trips in the Copenhagen area.

The course is co-organised by the Department of English, Germanic and Romance studies (Engerom) and the Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics (NorS). Many of our examples will be drawn from English, German and Danish, but the focus will be on name-related aspects that are relevant for all languages. Family names, for example, date all the way back to the late Middle Ages in central Europe. They became largely fixed in the early modern period and this makes them important witnesses of the societies of the time, their values, and their customs. In Scandinavia, family names emerged about 200 years later and this is reflected in the naming motifs (humanist names, e.g., the Swedish name Nobelius). What is more, these are still vital systems: In Denmark and Sweden, name changes are not only allowed but also extremely popular (about 5,000 name-changes per year in Sweden) and often involve new creations (e.g., Tigerhjelm ‘tiger+helmet’, Mohamedsson). Revealing information about people's age, race, ethnicity, gender among other things, personal names function as social markers and may also make the name-bearer vulnerable to attacks (nicknames, name polemics, e.g., Sleepy Joe). When it comes to place-names, various information is included in a field-name like Guldager (“the gold field”) or in a city name like Copenhagen (“the merchants’ port”). Street names reflect the development of a city and the expectations of the administration for the area.

Departing from name-theoretical considerations (What constitutes a name? What are prototypical/less prototypical names? What qualifies to be named? Which grammatical peculiarities are observed?), we will in the second part focus on personal names (given names and surnames: naming motives, names as social markers, naming patterns across Europe, name regulation). A third thematic section will be dedicated to place-names (name types with different chronology, modern place-naming, linguistic landscapes, and place-name regulation).

It is recommended that participants should have a basic knowledge in linguistics (grammar and semantics), but we warmly encourage diverse academic majors to enrol to support an interdisciplinary approach. The course will be completed with each student having two weeks to prepare a 6-10 pages written assignment on a self-selected topic (in English).


  • Birgit Eggert (Associate Prof., Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics)
  • Mirjam Schmuck (Associate Prof. Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies)

 Guest lecturer:

  • Prof. Damaris Nübling (Mainz, Germany)

Application deadlines

  • First round: 1 April
  • Second round: 1 June (after availability, and only for students enrolled at the Faculty of Humanities/UCPH)




Students must apply by 1 April by submitting application form including relevant documents. Deadline for second round of applications in case of remaining seats is 1 June.

Applicants who have passed a minimum of one year of bachelor-level studies are eligible to apply for admission.

It is recommended that participants should have basic knowledge in linguistics (grammar and semantics), but we warmly encourage diverse academic majors to enrol to support an interdisciplinary approach.

Accepted students will be notified before the end of April.

Access the application form





The course consists of group work, lectures, field trips, workshops, and tutorial work. The workload amounts to 206 work hours equivalent to the 7,5 ECTS points students receive upon meeting the above criteria.

The course is open to Danish as well as to international students. Good English skills are required.








Credits: 7,5 ECTS.

Exam type: written take-home assignment, 6-10 standard pages.

Exam period: deadline for submission: 31 August 2023.

Assessment: internal assessment by one examiner, graded according to the 7-point grading scale.

Exam Language: Danish or English.

Group exams: The exam can only be taken individually.

Aids: all aids allowed.

Upon completion of the course, the student should have knowledge of:

  • current research issues in the field of onomastics from a cross-linguistic perspective
  • key concepts, theories and methods in name research
  • the importance of name research from a broader multidisciplinary approach


and skills in:

  • discussing cross-cultural issues in naming in their contemporary and historical dimensions; 
  • identifying and analysing new issues in relevant naming materials independently and in a scientific way;
  • placing name research data in a relevant theoretical framework and relating it to the methods that are applied to the field;
  • working systematically and critically with limited name materials.








Unfortunately, the University of Copenhagen does not offer scholarships or tuition fee reductions.

Figures are estimates only.

Tuition fees

Read more about tuition fees here.


Monthly rate approximately: DKK 4000-6000. Deposit: one month’s rent.


Living expenses: Approx. DKK 2500 for three weeks

For more information on living costs and costs of accommodation, please visit UCPH website for international students.