Research Article

DOI :10.26650/sdsl2021-1027807   IUP :10.26650/sdsl2021-1027807    Full Text (PDF)

Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?

Viktoria KaziabaTatiana Burkova

The authors conducted the present study across onomastics and social-, gender-, Internet,- and psycho-linguistics. The paper analyzes virtual anthroponyms (so-called nicknames or usernames) that are result from self-nominations by Germanspeaking adolescent girls on the social Internet services Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, and TikTok. The study material covers four years (2017–2020) and examines 2,363 nicknames, as well as the accompanying personal metadata of 11–17-year-old users along with the results of online and offline interviews with informants. The paper seeks the main goal and hypothesis of t finding a correlation between the gender-age characteristics of adolescent Internet users and their linguistic embodiment in virtual communication in the form of self-nominations. The authors study and describe nicknames based on the positions of their semantic motivation and meaning, nominative potential, structural and grammatical design, and graphic organization. The linguocultural component of virtual self-nominations receives special emphasis. In addition, the authors provide the results of an experiment to determine the stability of nicknames over time. A descriptive linguistic analysis of the data reveals clear trends in the creation of self-nominations by adolescent girls. The authors discovered different specific gender and age markers through the lens of virtual anthroponyms: formation of self-concept against the background of striving for an emphasized individualization and simultaneous need for social acceptance, distinctly feminine manifestations, a tendency to positive or overestimated self-esteem, and increased interest in the pubertal phase. The users are equally inclined to deanonymize and to anonymize their personalities in the web space. However, in both cases, it is particularly important for girls to transfer their original self-nominative intentions to nicknames. The development of cognitive abilities and critical thinking by adolescent girls is manifested in linguistic creativity and involvement in the problematic or cultural context of interest.  

DOI :10.26650/sdsl2021-1027807   IUP :10.26650/sdsl2021-1027807    Full Text (PDF)

Adoleszenz – Name – Internet: wie nennen sich deutschsprachige Mädchen im Netz?

Viktoria KaziabaTatiana Burkova

Die vorliegende Forschung wurde auf dem Grenzgebiet von Onomastik, Sozial-, Gender-, Internet- und Psycholinguistik durchgeführt. Der Beitrag analysiert virtuelle Anthroponyme (sog. Nicknamen, Usernamen), die als Ergebnis von Selbstnomination deutschsprachiger Mädchen in der Adoleszenz auf den sozialen Internetservices Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, TikTok funktionieren. Das Forschungsmaterial wurde 4 Jahre lang (2017-2020) gesammelt und umfasst 2363 Nicknamen sowie die begleitenden persönlichen Metadaten von 11-17-jährigen Benutzerinnen und die Ergebnisse der online- und offline Interviews und Umfragen von Informanten. Das Hauptziel und die Hypothese der Forschung besteht darin, einen Zusammenhang zwischen den Geschlechtsaltersmerkmalen der Internet-Benutzerinnen und ihrer sprachlichen Realisation in der virtuellen Kommunikation im Form der Selbstnominationen zu finden. Nicknamen werden vom Standpunkt ihrer semantischen Motivation und Bedeutung, ihres nominativen Potenzials, ihrer strukturellen und grammatikalischen Gestaltung sowie ihrer grafischen Organisation untersucht und beschrieben. Ein Schwerpunkt wird auf die sprachkulturelle Komponente virtueller Selbstnominationen gesetzt. Im Betrag werden auch die Ergebnisse eines Experiments zur Bestimmung der Stabilität von Nicknamen in der Zeitperspektive angegeben. Eine deskriptive linguistische Analyse der Daten zeigt deutliche Trends bei der Erstellung von Selbstnominationen von adoleszenten Mädchen. Anhand virtueller Anthroponyme entdeckt man solche spezifischen Geschlechts- und Altersmarkierungen wie: die Selbstkonzept-Bildung vor dem Hintergrund des Strebens nach einer betonten Individualisierung und einem gleichzeitigen Bedürfnis nach einer sozialen Gruppenakzeptation, deutlich weibliche Erscheinungsformen verbaler Selbstpositionierung, eine Tendenz zu positiven oder überschätztes Selbstwertgefühl, gesteigertes Interesse an der Pubertätsphase. Die Internet-Nutzerinnen sind gleichermaßen geneigt, ihre Persönlichkeiten im Webspace zu deanonymisieren und zu anonymisieren, jedoch bleibt es in beiden Fällen wichtig, dass die primären Absichten der Selbstnomiation auf einen Nicknamen übertragen werden. Und die Entwicklung der alterstypischen kognitiven Fähigkeiten und des kritischen Denkens manifestiert sich in sprachlicher Kreativität und Einbindung in den interessierenden problematischen oder kulturellen Kontext.


The authors developed the present paper across onomastics and social-, gender-, Internet,- and psycho-linguistics. The study will test its hypothesis that the influence of the age and sex attributes of Internet users on the creation of their virtual image is critical even at the pre-communicative stage in the form of self-nomination. The authors focus on virtual anthroponyms, which result from acts of self-nominations. This paper is confined to the so-called nicknames / usernames of German-speaking adolescent girls. The main research interest aims at identifying ways of verbal embodiment of virtual personalities in the form of self-nomination, as well as the correlation of their linguistic implementation with gender and age factors. The analysis of approaches to understanding the adolescent period available in the scientific literature helps define this phase of ontogenetic development as the period between 11 and 17 years.

The research data were collected from 2017 to 2020 inclusive. The authors used popular social Internet services and hosting sites Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, and TikTok as sources of material for the study. The study used a random sample to select accounts belonging to German-speaking adolescent girls. Part of the material was collected through online and offline interviews and questionings among informants over four years of research. The collection of material took place partly in the territory of Germany in the city of Hanover during a research fellowship at the Leibniz University Hanover in 2017 to 2019. In total, the authors conducted four surveys with the participation of 149 female informants, including 38 personal and 54 online interviews. Research material included 2,363 nicknames. Thus, the study directly deals with anthroponymic units (usernames and nicknames) in the above-mentioned Internet services. The authors use the material collected in this way exclusively for scientific, research purposes and do not violate the EU-General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO 2018) and Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG 2018). All data attracted for the study exist on the open Internet or are voluntarily provided by informants with permission for subsequent publication.

The authors subjected the collected material to a multifaceted descriptive linguistic analysis, taking into account the age and sex and psychophysiological characteristics of girls at the age of 11–17 years. The analysis of semantic motivation shows almost a complete absence of unmotivated nicknames and only a quarter of examples show opaque semantics. The semantics of virtual self-nomination is characterized by a different nominative potential. In more than half of the cases, users preferred autonym-nicknames consisting of real anthroponyms, mostly first names. Just under a third of girls use pseudonym-nicknames, created out of appellative units, diverse in their semantics. Such self-nominations are more descriptive and have attitudinal meanings. Adolescent girls emphasize their positive external, physical, and personal qualities. There is also a tendency to create sexocentric pseudonym-nicknames. Hybrid nicknames based on the combining or contamination of a real anthroponym with any onymic or appellative lexeme make only one-fifth of the data. Their main feature is the name transposition, expressed by transanthroponymization and transonymization. Hybrid nicknames also have an increased characterizing ability, indicating hobbies, idols, ideals, and subjective qualities of their authors.

The analysis of the types of nicknames revealed their high linguocultural status, expressing the interest of users in various events from the world of music, politics, and sociocultural life, captured in self-nominations. The research of the degree of the nicknames’ stability overtime in the focus group showed the minimum variability of adolescent girls’ virtual self-nominations. The grammatical structure demonstrated approximately the same proportion of monocomponent nicknames, designed in the form of one (single) usual or occasional lexeme, and polycomponent nicknames, presented in the form of two or more words in their composition. Diverse variations of structural models of nicknames demonstrate a high degree of derivational linguocreativity of adolescent girls. In that sense, the polycomponent nicknames have the most interesting design such as nicknames-phrases and nicknames-sentences. The difficult to understand monocomponent nicknames contain the “insert”-words or contamination of lexemes. The overwhelming number of self-nominations were created using graphic means and techniques. The most popular are: symbols and signs (especially periods, underscores and numbers), capitalization, and iteration. The motives for using paraverbal means vary from the implementation of aesthetic, humorous attitudes to the introduction of additional individualizing information into the nickname through graphics. However, the primary motive is the utilitarian motive of overcoming the technical ban on identical nicknames within the limits of some Internet services.

The study confirms that age and sex characteristics of Internet users are deliberately or unconsciously projected onto a virtual image at the stage of choosing a name. The analyzed data of German-speaking adolescent girls of 11–17 years old demonstrate specific linguistic tendencies in the construction of virtual self-nominations. Gender selfidentification of adolescent girls is manifested in the use of gender-marked vocabulary and derivational formants, as well as in self-nominations by the names of the feminine anthroponymicon or the names of female denotes. In addition, the authors found the following age characteristics of adolescence, which are reflected in the Internet self-nominations:

• formation of the self-concept,

• the need for individualization,

• concentration on appearance and physicality with a focus on sexualization of the image,

• positive or overestimated self-esteem,

• improvement of cognitive functions,

• maturation of the intellectual apparatus and critical thinking,

• the need for acceptance by a certain social group and

• involvement in a problematic or cultural context of interest. 

PDF View


  • Adamchuk, D. V., & Sobkin, V. S. (2016). Normativnaiia reguliiattsiia seksual’nogo povedeniia podrostka [Normative regulation of adolescent sexual behavior]. Upravlenie obrazovaniem: teoriia i praktika - Education management: theory and practice, 2(22), 36-50. google scholar
  • Akhrenova, N. A. (2009). Internet-diskurs kak global’noe mezhkul’turnoe iavlenie i ego yazykovoe oformlenie [Internet discourse as a global intercultural phenomenon and its language design] (Habilitational dissetation). Moscow State Region University, Moscow. google scholar
  • Aleksiejuk, K. (2013). Personal names on the internet: usernames as address term. Language and society, 4, 187198. Retrieved from: INTERNET_USERNAMES_AS_ADDRESS_TERMS google scholar
  • Anikina, T. V. (2011). Sopostavitel’noe issledovanie virtual’nogo antroponimikona angloiazychnykh, russkoiazychnykh i frankoiazychnykh chatov [Comparative study of the virtual anthroponymicons of English-, Russian- and French-speaking chats] (Doctoral dissertation). Ural State Pedagogical University, Ekaterinburg. google scholar
  • Asmus, N. G. (2005). Lingvisticheskie osobennosti virtual’nogo kommunikativnogo prostranstva [Linguistic features of the virtual communication space] (Doctoral dissertation). Chelyabinsk State University, Chelyabinsk. google scholar
  • Balkunova, A. S. (2012). Rol’ setevogo imeni (nikneima) vo vzaimodeistvii sub’’ektov virtual’noi kommunikatsii [The role of the network name (nickname) in the interaction of the subjects of virtual communication] (Doctoral dissertation). Nizhnevartovsk State Humanitarian University, Nizhnevartovsk. google scholar
  • Bartosh, O. P., & Bartosh, T. P. (2012). Vozrastnye i gendernye osobennosti koping-povedeniiia podrostkov [Age and gender characteristics of adolescent coping behavior]. Psikhologiia. Psikhofiziologiiia - Psychology. Psychophysiology, 6(265), 42-46. google scholar
  • Bechar-Israeli, H. (1995). From <Bonehead> to <cLoNehEAd>: nicknames, play, and identity on Internet Relay Chat. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Volume 1, Issue 2. Advance online publication. https:// google scholar
  • Berk, L. E. (2011). Entwicklungspsychologie (5. Aufl.). München: Pearson. google scholar
  • Bohleber, W. (2011). Grundzüge adoleszenter Entwicklung: Psychoanalytische Perspektiven. In: P.J. Uhlhaas & K. Konrad (Hrsg.), Das adoleszente Gehirn. (S. 61-66). Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. google scholar
  • Bolin, G. (2004). Themed Section Introduction: Research on Youth and Youth Cultures. Young, 12(3), 237-243. google scholar
  • Engel’gardt, E. E. (2008). Sottsial’naiia situatsiia razvitiia i samootsenka devochek raznogo vozrasta [The social situation of development and self-esteem of girls of different ages]. Vestnik Sankt-Peterburgskogo universiteta. Sotsiologiia - Bulletin of St. Petersburg University. Sociology, 3, 55-61. google scholar
  • Feierabend, S., Rathgeb, Th., Kheredmand, Th. & Glöckler, S. (2020). JIM-Studie 2020: Jugend, Information, Medien. Basisuntersuchung zum Medienumgang 12- bis 19-Jahriger. Stuttgart: MPFS. Retrieved from: https://www. google scholar
  • Feiring, C. (1999). Gender identity and the development of romantic relationships in adolescence. In W. Furman, B. B. Brown, & C. Feiring (Eds.), The development of romantic relationships in adolescence (pp. 211-232). Cambridge University Press. google scholar
  • Fend, H. (2003). Entwicklungspsychologie des Jugendalters (3. durchges. Auflage), Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. google scholar
  • Gatson, S. N. (2011). Self-Naming Practices on the Internet: Identity, Authenticity, and Community. Cultural Studies, Critical Methodologies, 11(3), 224-235. google scholar
  • Gatzke, S. (2020). Psychologische Grundbedürfnisse in Kindheit und Jugend und ihre Bedeutung für ein gelingendes Leben. Was sind MaBnahmen Sozialer Arbeit? Munich: GRIN Verlag. Retrieved from: document/936437 google scholar
  • Gkoutzourelas, G. (2015). Nicknamen in sozialen Medien. Der Fall von Twitter und PlanetRomeo. Mediensprache. Retrieved from: google scholar
  • Jens, R., Schlobinski, P., & Siever, T. (1998). Sprache und Kommunikation im Internet. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. google scholar
  • Kaziaba, V. (2013). Namensmasken im Internet. Muttersprache, 4(123), 327-339. google scholar
  • Kaziaba, V. (2016). Nicknamen in der Netzkommunikation. Der Deutschunterricht. Nomen (non) est omen -Namenkunde, 1, 24-30. google scholar
  • Kessels, U. (2013) Jugend. In: S. Andresen, C. Hunner-Kreisel & S. Fries (Eds.) Erziehung. J.B. Metzler. Stuttgart. google scholar
  • King, V., & Koller, H.-Ch. (2013). Adoleszenzforschung: Zur Theorie und Empirie der Jugend aus transdisziplinarer Perspektive. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag. google scholar
  • Kon, I. S. (1989). Psikhologiia rannei iunosti [Psychology of early adolescence]. Moscow: Prosveshchenie. google scholar
  • Kuhn, D., & Franklin, S. (2006). The second decade: What develops and how. In W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology (6th ed., pp. 953-993). New York: Wiley. google scholar
  • Meyers, D. G. (2005). Meyers Psychologie. Heidelberg: Springer Medizin Verlag. google scholar
  • Ostapova, A. V. (2015). Psikhologicheskie osobennosti podrostkovogo vozrasta [Psychological features of adolescence]. Evraziiskii nauchnyi zhurnal - Eurasian Scientific Journal, 7. Retrieved from: https:// google scholar
  • Sawyer, S. M., Azzopardi, P. S., Wickremarathne, D., & Patton, G. C. (2018). The age of adolescence. Lancet Child Adolescent Health, 2(3), 223-228. google scholar
  • Scheidt, L. A. (2001). Avatars and Nicknames in Adolescent Chat Spaces. Gender and Computerization. L591. Retrieved from: Spaces google scholar
  • Schlobinski, P. & Siever, T. (Eds.). (2018). Nicknamen international. Zur Namenwahl in sozialen Medien in 14 Sprachen. Berlin: Peter Lang GmbH. google scholar
  • Shtil’shtein, E. S. (2000). Osobennosti prezentattsii «Ia» v podrostkovom vozraste [Features of the presentation of “Selfconcept” in adolescence]. Voprosy psikhologii - Psychology issues, 2, 69-79. google scholar
  • Stangl, W. (2021). Stichwort: ,Pubertat - Online Lexikon für Psychologie und Padagogik’. Online Lexikon für Psychologie undPadagogik. Retrieved from: google scholar
  • Statista - das Statistik-Portal: Statistiken, Marktdaten & Studie (2021). Retrieved from: themen/2033/internetnutzung-in-deutschland/#dossierKeyfigures google scholar
  • Stommel, W. (2007). Mein Nick bin ich! Nicknames in a German Forum on Eating Disorders. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), 141-162. google scholar
  • Velichko, N. V. (2004). Samonominattsiia i samokharakteristika v pis’makh A.P. Chekhova Ialtinskogo perioda [Self-nomination and self-characterization in the letters of A.P. Chekhov’s Yalta period]. Uchenye zapiski Tavricheskogo nattsional’nogo universiteta im. V. I. Vernadskogo. Ser. «Filologiiia» - Scientific notes of the Tavrichesky National University named after V. I. Vernadsky. Ser. “Philology”, 20 (59), 4, 420-424. google scholar
  • Whitty, M. T., & Buchanan, T. (2010) What’s in a Screen Name? Attractiveness of Different Types of Screen Names Used by Online Daters. International Journal of Internet Science, 5(1), 5-19. google scholar
  • Wischmann, A. (2010). Adoleszenz- Bildung- Anerkennung. Adoleszente Bildungsprozesse im Kontext sozialer Benachteiligung. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag. google scholar


Copy and paste a formatted citation or use one of the options to export in your chosen format



Kaziaba, V., & Burkova, T. (2022). Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?. Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur, 0(47), 81-108.


Kaziaba V, Burkova T. Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?. Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur. 2022;0(47):81-108.


Kaziaba, V.; Burkova, T. Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?. Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 47, p. 81-108, 2022.

Chicago: Author-Date Style

Kaziaba, Viktoria, and Tatiana Burkova. 2022. “Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?.” Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur 0, no. 47: 81-108.

Chicago: Humanities Style

Kaziaba, Viktoria, and Tatiana Burkova. Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?.” Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur 0, no. 47 (Dec. 2022): 81-108.

Harvard: Australian Style

Kaziaba, V & Burkova, T 2022, 'Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?', Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur, vol. 0, no. 47, pp. 81-108, viewed 4 Dec. 2022,

Harvard: Author-Date Style

Kaziaba, V. and Burkova, T. (2022) ‘Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?’, Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur, 0(47), pp. 81-108. (4 Dec. 2022).


Kaziaba, Viktoria, and Tatiana Burkova. Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?.” Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur, vol. 0, no. 47, 2022, pp. 81-108. [Database Container],


Kaziaba V, Burkova T. Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?. Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur [Internet]. 4 Dec. 2022 [cited 4 Dec. 2022];0(47):81-108. Available from: doi: 10.26650/sdsl2021-1027807


Kaziaba, Viktoria - Burkova, Tatiana. Adolescence – Name – Internet: How Do German-Speaking Girls Name Themselves on the Web?”. Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur 0/47 (Dec. 2022): 81-108.


Published Online10.06.2022


Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.


Istanbul University Press aims to contribute to the dissemination of ever growing scientific knowledge through publication of high quality scientific journals and books in accordance with the international publishing standards and ethics. Istanbul University Press follows an open access, non-commercial, scholarly publishing.