Monday, May 15, 2023

Topohodonyms: what are they, why study them, and how to?


"Topohodonyms: what are they, why study them, and how to?" by Justyna B. Walkowiak (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland) The objective of my paper is to posit as legitimate objects of onomastic research what I propose to call topohodonyms – the names of streets (and similar urban features, like squares, roundabouts, bridges, etc.) that reference geographical objects, e.g. Oxford Street, Waterloo Bridge, Michigan Avenue, Kongostrasse, Place des Alpes, or Via Trento. Seldom perceived as a separate category in linguistically-culturally oriented, traditional onomastics that appears to prevail in Europe, they are not fully appreciated by critical toponymy either, especially that hodonyms commemorating people seem the more obvious tool of power struggles. Yet their study might offer novel insight into intricate power relations and competing geopolitical narratives that seem ideologyinnocent and therefore frequently go unnoticed, as evidenced by many topohodonyms remaining intact in turbulent times marked by urban renamings. On the other hand, a city's changing hands may, conversely, occasion a radical shift in the foci established by its topohodonyms. Contemporary topohodonyms collectively reflect a city’s imagined geographies, define their location, distance and relationship. They help draw a line between what is “ours”, featured in the cityscape, and what belongs to “the other’ and is therefore ignored. They may form thematic clusters, mirroring national or regional geography; they can also identify the nation’s allies (in the case of streets named for particular countries). Not to be overlooked are hodonyms that stake claims to lost or conquered territories, including “colonial” names. Amply illustrated with examples mostly from Europe, the paper will also offer suggestions for topohodonymic research, employing both descriptive and statistical methods. JUSTYNA WALKOWIAK, Ph.D., Hab., linguist and onomastician, works as Associate Professor at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. Co-edited four volumes; authored two monographs, two university coursebooks, and over forty journal articles and book chapters. Section Editor of the Polish journal Onomastica; co-editor of the proceedings of the 27th ICOS.

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