Personal names, nicknames

All the islanders belong to one of seven families with the following surnames – Glass, Green, Repetto, Rogers, Swain, Hagan and Lavarello.

The Christian names, on the other hand, are more numerous and so are the nicknames, P. A. Munch has connected this extensive use of nicknames with the popular form of oublic teasing on Tristan. Both have a marked social function. The nicknames are used either to commemorate a certain occurence in the person’s life or a particular habit or characteristic trait. Nearly all islanders seem to have a nickname of some kind.. Since the number of surnames are so limited, it happens fairly often that two individuals have the same combination of names. In such cases ‘Big’ and ‘Little’ are sometimes prefixed to the two islanders in question in order of seniority. Another way of referring to a certain individual is to make use of the husband’s or wife’s name in the genitive case.

The interest shown by the islanders in attaching nicknames to people for the sake of teasing has a parallel in certain place-names listed in some of the previous groups of names.