Structure of organisation names

The increasing complexity of modern societies and the progressive development of the economy continually provide new organisation names. Names such as Russian Konditerskaya fabrika “Krasnyi Oktyabr” [confectionary factory “Red October”], Wiener Gebietskrankenkassa (WGKK) [Vienna regional health insurance company], United Nations (UN), Royal Lochnagar Distillery, Universite de Paris III - Sorbonne Nouvelle or “Auge Gottes” Apotheke [God’s Eye Pharmacy] show the variety of linguistic material used to form organisation names over the past century. The majority of organisation names are complex multi-word structures. A synchronic examination of current organisation names shows that such structures can vary drastically. For example, the following variants can be found among the names of educational institutions in German-speaking countries: Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms- Universitat Bonn [University of Bonn], Freie Universitat Berlin [Free University Berlin], ETH Zurich, where ETH is short for Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule [Confederate Technical University]. Likewise, party names can range from Christlich Demokratische Union (CDU) [Christian Democratic Union] to Piraten [Pirates] and NEOS. With regard to the naming of institutions Vasil'eva (2004: 618) states:

Depending on the structure, the following types of institution names can be distinguished:

  • 1. Simple (i.e. one-word) vs. more complex (i.e. multi-word) names: the complex institution names can then be further classified according to their component parts
  • 2. Various types of abbreviations
  • 3. Homogenous (i.e. consisting exclusively of words) vs. non-homogenous (i.e. also containing Arabic/Roman numerals)
  • 4. Lexemes formed on a native basis vs. foreign words, internationalisms and artificial words.

As far as the linguistic structure of German company names is concerned, Kremer points to legal specifications that such names must adhere to. Company names form a continuum between variance and restriction (Kremer 2012:130). He refers to names confined to the obligatory component parts as simple company names, and to those with (optional) extensions as extended company names. According to Kremer (2012: 131), the company name therefore consists of an “obligatory company core” and a “periphery”, the latter being further divisible into an obligatory “legal designation” and one or more optional “extensions” (cf. Figure 22.1). The company core forms the distinctive part of a company name; it can also be constructed differently depending on the type of company. The legal designation indicates the legal form of the company. Today a statutory requirement for all enterprises, it was only made obligatory for sole traderships and partnerships in 1998 (see §17 and §18 of the German commercial code) (cf. Kremer 2012: 131). Additional elements can be added to the optional company extension, which are used for greater distinctiveness or advertising effect. Kremer (2007:182-183) designates these elements, which are tend?ing to become more common and conspicuous, as “attractors” (cf. Section 2.5). Such “eye catchers” consist of abbreviations, neologisms, fantasy words, deviations from the orthographic rules, capitalisation within words and foreign-language word material (e.g., the use of the Anglo-Saxon genitive in German, cf. Durscheid 2005). Here, mention must be made of several papers by Kremer regarding the frequency of the name components in German company names (2007, 2008, 2012; Kremer and Ronneberger-Sibold 2007). These indicate that the most important name components in the field of German company names are the following:

  • - Name of the owner or main shareholder;
  • - Description of the company’s purpose;
  • - Geographical indications (e.g., the company’s place of business, or regional or national connection);
  • - Naming products with advertising intent, symbol names;
  • - Neologisms, short forms, abbreviations.
Structure of German company names (cf. Kremer 2012:130)

Figure 22.1: Structure of German company names (cf. Kremer 2012:130)

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