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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Standardization of Swedish Place Names Yesterday and Today

L Nilsson
SOFI, Sweden

As a result of an animated debate on place names in the 1970s, the scope of the standardization of Swedish place names was broadened. It used to be an entirely linguistic task performed by place name scholars. Today it is also a question of protecting the place names. Since the year 2000, there is a paragraph on “good place name practice” included in the Swedish Heritage Conservation Act (Swedish Kulturminneslagen). The emphasis is placed on the importance of preserving the place names as a part of the nation’s cultural heritage. My paper is an account of the steps taken towards this new approach of Swedish standardization and gives some comments with regard to the current legislation. The tendency in Swedish place name standardization to have a focus on the preservation of place names is a healthy sign. From my point of view it is important, though, not to forget the strictly linguistic aspects of the matter. The stress on “established” names in the law may cause problems when it comes to decide whether a linguistically incorrect name should be regarded as established or not. There will certainly be a number of cases with differing interpretations, and I intend to illustrate that with some typical examples.

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