I am to translate an extract from John M. Ford's novel The Last Hot Time. It begins with this passage:
"Her name is Norma Jean?"
"Around here," the small man said, "names are something that one keeps to oneself. We call people things. He indicated the big man and the elf in turn. "This is Lincoln McCain. And Cloudhunter Who Keeps His Sisters' Counsel, though Cloudhunter will do. I'm called Mr. Patrise." He spelled it.
The word "call" was typed in italic in the same way I showed. I'm struggling to understand why "call" is highlighted, as well as to figure out the meaning of the sentence with this word ("We call people things").
Initially I thought that its meaning is somewhat close to " We don't use real names but create nicknames instead".
However, I'm in great doubt now whether it really means what I think it means, because after these words Mr. Patrise introduces the people and the elf and calls them by their names, for Lincoln McCain and Patrise sound more like real names rather than fake or nicknames. This is where my difficulty lies. And I'd like to know if my previous guess regarding the matter was right or not.
Please explain the meaning of that sentence as clear as possible, or rephrase it in an understandable way within this context.