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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Settlement Name Strata in the Multilingual Carpathian Basin

V Tóth
University of Debrecen, Hungary

When entering the Carpathian Basin in the 9th century, the Hungarians found a decisively Slavic population in the territory, so toponyms were formed based on the already existing toponymic system. Hungarian toponymic research has been able to reconstruct toponyms from the period prior to the Hungarian conquest only very scarcely and ambiguously – as opposed to the names of larger rivers, which show strong continuity, going back to very early times. The toponyms of the Carpathian Basin, in connection with the formation of the settlement structures of Hungarians, can almost exclusively be documented from the period after the Hungarian conquest.
However, the Carpathian Basin became a “meeting point of the peoples” in the centuries after the conquest in 896 and as such, numerous nations and languages could be found here: Slavic peoples and Germans settled down in larger blocks, while smaller groups of Turkish nations, such as Cumans and Besenyős, and some Romance peoples (Walloons, Romanians) also contributed to the ethnic and linguistic diversity in the area. The layering of different peoples and languages influenced toponyms too, which also allows us to investigate language contacts of the time. This is the main concern of my paper, with special focus on the question of how these phenomena can be connected to issues of language prestige in the Middle Ages.

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