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Xenonym is a term derived from the Greek (xenonymus), literally "foreign name", from (xenos), "foreign" and (ónomus), "name". The meaning of this term depends on whether it applies to names or to relations between words:
- In ethnolinguistics, a xenonym is a language name (glossonym) not native to this language, but deriving from a different (foreign) language. The opposite, a glossonym native to the language to which it refers, is termed an autonym or endonym. In ethnology and social sciences, the same distinction may apply also to names of ethnic or social groups (ethnonyms or socionyms): in this case, a xenonym is a name originally given by foreigners to a certain ethnic or social group, whereas an autonym is a name originated within this group for naming itself. When applying to group names, the distinction may be based less on etymological facts but rather on aspects of usage and acceptance, i.e. whether or not a given group name is regarded by members of this group as a foreign name imposed by outsiders, or as their own name proper also for self-designation and internal communication. Equivalent terms are exonym ("outside name") and endonym ("inside name"), used especially in toponomastics for place names (toponyms) deriving either from a local language (endonym) or from a distant/foreign language (exonym).
- In semantics, xenonymy is a term used, together with tautonymy and philonymy, for distinguishing various types of semantic relations between lexical units combined with each other within a phrase or syntagma. Xenonymy is defined as semantic dissonance between a given unit and its syntagmatic context, originating from conflicting presuppositions. It can be distinguished by degrees of dissonance as inappropriateness (e.g. "the plant kicked the bucket" instead of "died"), paradox (e.g. "male aunt") or incongruity (e.g. "a lustful affix"). In such cases, the unfitting word or expression is termed a xenonym with regard to its context. Semantic xenonymy is opposed to tautonymy (pleonastic relation) and philonymy (normal case, harmony).
- David Alan Cruse, Lexical Semantics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1986, p. 106s.
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