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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Conceptual Structure of Emergent Place Names

V Alpatov
Moscow City Pedagogical University, Russia

Semantics and motivation of a name are key challenges for place name students. Several attempts have been undertaken to reveal the principles that govern the process of name-giving (Toroptsev, Zilliacus, etc.). A new attempt at their systematization by means of conceptual analysis explains a number of tendencies in the creation of place names.
The evidence of several investigations shows that emergent place names possess a complex mental structure with the concept PLACE as its core, that can be alternately presented as ‘area’, ‘container’, ‘part’ or ‘object’. There are two more structural “storeys” that go with the core:
1) the frame of PLACE with the slots ‘quality’, ‘inhabitant’, ‘possessor’, ‘marker’, ‘event’, ‘use’, ‘destiny (dedication)’, ‘border’ that define the mainstreams of naming choices (for instance, Kirkbank can variously be ‘hill with a church’, ‘hill where land belongs to a church’, ‘hill from which a church is seen’, ‘hill that provided stones to build a church’, ‘hill resembling a church,’ etc.);
2) a matrix with domains referring to various areas of human knowledge (in Christian place names such areas are ‘Holiness’, ‘The Church’, ‘The Bible’).
The conceptual structure that is postulated is deemed to be universal, but as an example the model has been used to structure the corpus of English Christian place names and is illustrated by charts and tables.

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