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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Ontological Characteristics of Toponyms and Methods of their Lexicographic Description

V I Skybina
E M Muzya
Zaporozhye State Medical University, Canada

This study’s aim is to elucidate the degree of correspondence among the ontological characteristics of toponyms, their interpretation in linguistics, and the state of the art of English toponym lexicographic description.
The research proves that in toponyms, characteristics of names, terms and general vocabulary fuse together. As names, toponyms denote unique entities, their meaning is denotative. As terms, they belong to the subject field of geography; however, unlike other terms, they are verbal representations not of class but of individual concepts. As an inheritance of the entire language speaking community, toponyms belong to general vocabulary. Moreover, as an offshoot of the historical development of the language–speaking community, toponyms are replete with cultural substance.
The lexicography of English toponyms has been comprehensively defined in special dictionaries and has been an integral part of many general monolingual dictionaries. Oddly enough, in the theory of lexicography itself, methods of toponym representation have not been elaborated or discussed.
The research of toponym description in special, learners’ and general monolingual dictionaries of the English language revealed both the prevailing methods used and the problems which need to be addressed, in order for the toponym lexicographic presentation to be in accord with their ontological attributes and the typological characteristics of dictionaries. It also proved that in linguistics and adjacent fields, the level of investigation of English language toponyms, achievements of the theory and practice of onomastic lexicography and terminography provide a solid ground for a development of a congruous theory of toponym lexicographic description.

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