Intertextuality in the names of escape rooms

Ewa Oronowicz-Kida

Uniwersytet Rzeszowski


The subject matter of the article are the names of escape rooms (ER), with focus on their
intertextuality. First ER appeared in Poland 5 years ago and they immediately became
enormously popular, which is confirmed by the fact that this year people interested in this
new form of entertainment have been able to visit more than 1000 mystery rooms situated
in many cities, which are diversified in terms of their size and located in different parts
of the country. Because of the great interest of Polish people in ERs, which is considered
to be exeptional worldwide, they can become an inspiration for interesting diverse studies,
including linguistic research. As proper names, names of ERs belong to thefield of
marketing chrematonymy connected with human entertainment activities. Their analysis
in terms of intertextuality is certainly one of the most interesting directions of research.
Assuming that every proper name is a specific text, an intertext in the onymic sense relates
to a name (hypotext) in another name (hypertext). Proper names-related intertexts may
assume the form of a transtextualisation, transformation, imitation or intextualisation.
In the collected linguistic material (143 names from 3 cities) there are two dominatgroups
of names. The first one consist of onyms resulting from transtextualisation, that is
transfer of the name from one onymic plan to another without any formal changes, e.g.
Platform 9 ¾ - a name of ER originating from a novel about Harry Potter. The second one,
on the other hand, consists of names which are intextualisation in their nature, that is
in the structure of which the original name occurs indirectly (e.g. it requires recognising
a given allusion) or through its with a varying degree of advancement (e.g. quotations), for
instance Perun’s Beast – a name of ERs whose narrative is set in the Slavic mythology, and
Perun is a Slavic god of thunder. The form of the analysed names of ER is not surprising.
For their authors the semantics of the name is more important than its structure, which is
consistent with the marketing definition of a perfect name. Thus one of the most important
objectives of the discussed onyms is participation in competing for evry customer, which
is becoming increasingly difficult on the Polish market, and which isambodied in an
attempt to make them interested and intrigued by the offered room. Apart from marketing
competition, intertextuality of names of ERs is indirectly used for preserving the names
connected with different cultural texts in the social memory.
Intertextual names of ERs are regarded as a dynamically developing category of contemporary
proper names which require from their creators and recipients a creative and
reproductive activity set in the general knowledge and culture as well as mental ctivity
which guarantees an appropriate interpretation of new meanings hidden in the created


escape room, proper name, chrematonym, onymic intertextuality, transtextualisation, intextualisation

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Cited by

Oronowicz-Kida, E. (2020). Intertextuality in the names of escape rooms. Prace Językoznawcze, 22(3), 181–192.

Ewa Oronowicz-Kida 
Uniwersytet Rzeszowski