The Linguistic Conventions of the Authorial Pseudonyms Adopted by Fanfiction Writers

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


This dissertation undertakes the first extended investigation of the lexical formation and semantics of the linguistically innovative authorial pseudonyms (e.g. <cutiepatootieharry>; <J4r3dW1nch3st3r_D0ct0r_tr4nsb0y>; <silentlyyscreamingg>) used by fanfiction writers. Specifically, three related areas of academic enquiry are explored using 800 authorial pseudonyms (APs) employed by One Direction and Supernatural fanfiction writers. Firstly, it is determined that compounding, blending, and variant spellings are the most frequent lexical formation methods used by One Direction and Supernatural writers. Meanwhile, the self, fandom, other cultural works, objects/nature, and sex are the semantic fields that fanfiction writers commonly draw upon when creating APs. An underlying motivation for the use of many of these formation processes and semantic fields is the author's desire to highlight aspects of their own identity in their AP. This finding poses a challenge to previous research which has contended that fanfiction writers use pseudonyms to foreground the interests of the community over the self. Next, if all fandoms (i.e. fan communities) are truly homogeneous, as posited in previous studies, then one would expect to see no significant differences in the formation processes and semantics of APs used by authors from different fandoms. In contrast, One Direction fanfiction writers use blends, fandom-related APs, and sex-related APs significantly more than their Supernatural counterparts. Future studies should thus consider the conventions and practices of individual fan communities, as opposed to treating all fandoms as one homogeneous conglomerate. Finally, this investigation demonstrates that the most popular writers use significantly more simple APs and significantly less compounded APs and fandom-related APs than randomly selected authors. These findings provide limited support for the hypothesis that an author’s chosen name can correlate with popularity. Consequently, further investigation into the relationship between onomastic choices and literary success is strongly recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Linguistics & English Language
  • Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Sep 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - Sep 2017


  • Online Communities
  • fanfiction
  • onomastics
  • online usernames
  • pseudonyms


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