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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Contractions in Balto-Finnic Place Names

Author(s):
M Faster
University of Tartu, Võru Institute, Estonia

Contractions in Estonian place names are observed in detail by Kettunen, Pall, and Kallasmaa. Contractions are mostly irregular changes in the stems of place names; these are known all over Estonia and are rather frequent, e.g., Mäe+pää > Mäebe. Contractions usually occur in the second, rarely in the first element, of names with two components. The situation is different in Finnish and also in closely related languages.
Only a few cases of contractions are observed in Finland, e.g., Musta+joki > Mustio. In Finnish, the most common changes occur in hydronyms, where the generic järvi 'lake' or lampi 'pond' is replaced with suffix -nen, e.g., Valkea+järvi > Valkeinen. Another recurrent change is reduction, where the middle element of a secondary place name is left out, e.g., Hauki+järven+vuori > Haukivuori. (Kiviniemi 1975) However, suffixation is not known and reduction is known but rather rare in Estonian.
Contractions in Estonian place names may take place in all secondary names with two elements: mostly in settlement names and names of natural features. There is no contraction in Finnish settlement names, whereas reduction is common in the names of natural features.
In the paper, I shall discuss what causes different developments in the place names of closely related languages and how contractions are realized in place names of southeastern Estonia.

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