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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Urban naming and Cultural Identity

Author(s):
I Særheim
Norway

In modern cities official naming forms part of urban planning. Streets, squares and urban areas are given names according to specific naming principles and criteria. The origin and semantic content of many names reflect historic traditions, events and various cultural aspects of the city and its surrounding district. The cultural dimension might also apply to the linguistic form of urban names.
As appointed European capital of culture (together with Liverpool) in 2008 by EU (European Union), Stavanger has made strong commitments to promote cultural identity and heritage. This is expressed in the goals and values of Stavanger 2008, as well as in the vision “Open Port”, both in its English sense, ‘open harbour’, and its Scandinavian meaning ‘open gate’. In what way does the official naming reflect and live up to the vision, objectives and values of Stavanger as a European capital of culture? What kind of cultural identity and which parts of the cultural heritage are reflected in the city's official names? These questions are discussed in the paper.

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