Examining Factors Influencing the Preference for National Names for Children Over the Past Two Decades Through the Lens of Social Linguistics: The Case of Birjand

Article Type:
Research/Original Article (دارای رتبه معتبر)

The primary objective of this research is to investigate the shift in naming patterns from religious (Arabic) to national (Iranian) names over the past three decades in Birjand. Various factors, including social, cultural, historical and political influences, as well as individuals’ awareness of the social-cultural function of names, are expected to significantly impact this tendency and influence the attitudes of parents and families. This study aims to explore the factors that have contributed to the preference for Iranian names for children in the last two decades, employing a social linguistics perspective within the specific context of Birjand. The research seeks to address the following research questions:What changes have occurred in the selection of names for girls and boys in families residing in Birjand over the past two decades? Which factors have played a significant role in shaping the attitudes of parents toward choosing Iranian names for their children in Birjand during the last two decades? The hypotheses of the current research are as follows:The selected names are changing, with a tendency towards national (Iranian) names over religious (Arabic) ones, and combined (national-religious) ones. Cultural, social, political and economic factors, as well as the level and type of education, social status, and the religious/non-religious background of the family are influential in changing attitudes. Extensive research has been conducted on the process of selecting names for newborns from the perspective of social linguistics in various countries, including Iran. These studies have provided interesting insights, examining aspects such as semantic meanings, religious and national identity, ethnicity, culture, and history. The present research focuses on the transformation of child naming from religious to national over the past three decades.


This research is a theoretical-documentary study. In the theoretical aspect, extensive studies were conducted in the field of social linguistics by searching scientific databases, digital libraries, and internet content and sources, yielding significant results. For the documentary aspect, data was collected from documents and registration books at the Civil Registration Organization of South Khorasan Province in Birjand city, specifically the names of individuals. The research data, including the names of girls and boys, were collected based on registered documents and records.The collected names were categorized as religious, national, and mixed (national and religious). The statistical population of this research includes all children’s names related to births from the beginning of 1991 to the end of 2020, registered in the Civil Registration Organization of Birjand city. The statistical sample under study includes the total number of names used in this period (including repeated names), which amounts to 171855 names of girls and boys.Data analysis was performed using descriptive statistics (frequency and percentage) with the help of SPSS software. Changes in naming in the studied community were addressed based on decades, followed by a comprehensive analysis of these three decades (the last 30 years). The analysis of names was based on three categories: religious names, national names, and mixed names (national-religious) registered in the Civil Registration Organization of Birjand.


The findings of the research include the names of boys and girls from the beginning of 1999 to the end of 2019 in Birjand city. The collected names were divided into three groups: national, religious and mixed (national-religious) names.


Based on the collected data and their analysis, it was concluded that the reason for choosing religious names in the sixties and seventies was the religious beliefs and sentiments in the families, as well as the spiritual-religious atmosphere prevailing in the first years of the Islamic Revolution and the ideals of this system. Parents chose religious names for their children based on the names of religious figures. In Birjand, due to reasons such as the religiosity of the families and the traditional lifestyle, most of the names were traditional-religious names in the first decades of the Islamic Revolution. Among the collected data, the presence of national-patriotic names was remarkably low and not much variety was observed. With the advancement of education level, socio-cultural, economic, political connections, etc., parents’ vision and attitude broadened, which led to a significant change in their attitude toward choosing names for their children. In the last two decades (the eighties and nineties in the Persian calander), especially in the nineties, they preferred national-patriotic names to religious names for their sons and daughters. The transformation, progress and expansion in the field of media and technology that is evident all over the world had a tremendous impact on this matter in Birjand city, which can be dramatically felt. As a result of these developments and extensive transformation and increasing the level of awareness of families in all cultural-social fields, the choice and use of national (Iranian) names increased significantly in the last two decades, especially in the nineties. Religious names showed a significant decline, however.

Scientific Quarterly of Social-Cultural Studies of Khorasan, Volume:17 Issue: 3, 2023
197 to 233
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