Thursday, February 7, 2013

Semantically related names; cities-within-cities

An interesting communication from the part of enchanting Line Sandst, Ph.D. candidate, University of Copenhagen

Semantically related names; cities-within-cities

A city is not just a uniform mass of houses and streets. It often consists of distinct places and urban open spaces that we regard as something unique and different from the rest of the urban area. Different urban open spaces can vary in size and draw different kinds of boundaries; fences, facades or even entrance gates. Once upon a time the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen, lay protected behind ramparts and gates but in the latter part of the 1800s the city broke through the ramparts and started to stretch over the landscape creating the districts Amagerbro, Vesterbro, Nørrebro and Østerbro. The new districts were given names that were already in the area and originally denoted the four main roads into Copenhagen-behind-ramparts. Nørrebro originally denoted ‘the northern main street’ by which you could enter the city. Today the name is synonymous with a district with its own distinct characteristics that distinguish the area from the surrounding Copenhagen.

This paper presents an extract of a preliminary study as part of my PhD project on urban place names in Copenhagen. I have collected urban names in a limited area of 500 x 500 meters in the district of Nørrebro. In this text I focus on linguistic spaces and present the phenomenon of cities-within-cities.

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