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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Functions of Urban Place Names

R H Eskelinen
Research Institute for the Languages of Finland, Finland

I am going to introduce various functions of urban place names by analyzing spoken data gathered from residents in the neighbourhood Kallio in Helsinki, Finland. The data consist of six group interviews, where groups of two to six members answer questions concerning their home neighbourhood.

I have studied various kinds of place names (both official and unofficial) the inhabitants of Kallio use daily in terms of how the age, range, and users of the names vary, and what types of images the inhabitants have about the names. I am going to discuss the functions of names, e.g., how people, by using certain names, express their attitudes (affective function) or their belonging to regional or social groups (collective function). The names’ practical functions consist of, e.g., shortening the names to ease the expression and locating and limiting places with the help of names. I am also going to discuss the informative function of the names by studying how the residents know and notice the (etymologic or connotative) information included in the names.

My study is part of a research project, titled “Transformation of onomastic landscape in the sociolinguistically diversifying neighbourhoods of Helsinki”. In this project we investigate the relationship between the residents and urban environment in two different neighbourhoods, Kallio and Vuosaari, from the viewpoint of place names. The goal of the project is to produce information about urban place names and about using them as a part of wider urban development.

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