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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

The German Surname Atlas Project - Computer-Based Surname Geography

M Schmuck
K Dräger
University of Mainz, Germany

This paper presents the project of a German Surname Atlas (Deutscher Familiennamenatlas), which is in charge of Prof. Dr. Konrad Kunze and Prof. Dr. Damaris Nübling. The surname maps are based on German fixed network telephone lines (year 2005) with German postal districts as the graticule. In our project, we use this data to explore the areal variation of German surnames regarding the lexicon (e.g., Schröder - Schneider 'taylor') as well as phonology (e.g., Piper - Peiffer - Pfeifer 'piper') and morphology (e.g., patronyms such as Petersen - Peters - Peter).
German surnames emerged quite early and preserve linguistic material, which is 600 to 800 years old. This enables us to draw conclusions from today's areal distribution on e.g., medieval dialectal variation, writing traditions and cultural life.
Containing not only German surnames but also foreign names, our huge database allows new areas of research, such as surnames and migration. Due to the close contact to Slavonic languages (original Slavonic population in the east, former eastern territories, migration), original Slavonic surnames take the biggest part (e.g., –ski 16.386 types/293.474 tokens). Various adaptations from Slavonic to German and vice versa occurred. Involved are graphical (e.g., Dobschinski < Dobrzynski), as well as morphological adaptations (hybrid forms: e.g., Fuhrmanski) and folk-etymological reinterpretations (e.g., Rehsack < Czech Režak).

- Nübling, Damaris/Kunze, Konrad (2006): New perspectives on Müller, Meyer, Schmidt. Computer-based surname geography and the German Surname Atlas project. In: Studia anthroponymica scandinavica 24, 53-85.
- Kunze, Konrad/Nübling, Damaris (2007): Der Deutsche Familiennamenatlas (DFA). Konzept, Konturen, Kartenbeispiele. In: Beiträge zur Namenforschung 42/2, 126-172.


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