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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

The Changing of Place Names in Pöide Parish, Saarema, Estonia

M Alas
The Institute of the Estonian Language, Estonia

Studies have focused on how and to what extent countryside place names in one parish in Estonia have changed from 1787 to the present day. The number of place names that have disappeared is about half of all names. The necessity for place names depends on people’s need to communicate and identify a certain place, and only names, which people need for themselves, will survive. Both social changes and changes in nature may be the reason for changes in place names. Although half of the names have disappeared, it can be said, that the loss is not that extensive. During the last three centuries, there have been a lot of changes in people's way of life. The population in the countryside had decreased, but on the other hand is now increasing again. The Soviet times also changed almost all the farming areas so that the natural development was disturbed. Taking that into consideration, the phasing out of place names is not that extensive. In my paper, I present research results in more detail and bring out how place names of various place types have remained extant, changed, grown or disappeared.

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