Sunday, August 6, 2023

Call for Papers "Toponymy and Toponomastics at the Intersection between Language Contact and Historical Geography"


Submission Deadline: 1st August 2024

We invite research on the following themes and related areas:

• Historical toponomastics and diachronic toponymy (in general);

• Toponymy, hydronymy, oronymy, and odonymy (in general);

• Etymology and toponymy;

• Toponymy in the context of onomastics;

• Language documentation, field linguistics, and toponymy;

• Toponymy and oral tradition;

• Language contact and toponymy;

• Human geography and toponymy;

• Historical geography and toponymy;

• Toponymy in the context of socio-onomastics.

Especially welcomed are studies dealing with the historical reconstruction of place names, as well as articles focused on complex issues, such as, among others, language contact in prehistoric times and theoretical approaches to the puzzles of original homelands and settlement dynamics of prehistoric speakers through the etymological restitution and analysis of ancient toponyms from different language families and geographical contexts. We particularly invite original perspectives and interdisciplinary approaches. 

Toponymy and toponomastics are very significant branches of etymology and the onomastic sciences in general. They are interdisciplinary in nature, associating, among others, historical linguistics with sociolinguistics, human geography, historical geography, cartography, topography, geology, landscape sciences, archaeology, and cultural anthropology.

Place names are a pervasive part of our languages, history, identity, cultural heritage, and societies and are essential components of our everyday life. Some of them date back to prehistoric times and are a sort of ‘living fossil’, allowing us to partly realise the scientific dream of giving a voice to our remote ancestors; others tell us the stories of human communities, both at the local level and by reflecting and documenting decisive historical events and moments.

A large corpus of scientific literature on toponymy and toponomastics is available, but most of the sources and studies (apart from a couple of very recent volumes), both at the intensive and extensive level, do not belong to collections or corpora of research easily and immediately accessible to scholars and students and are ‘scattered here and there’, across books and journals, libraries, and different languages. Moreover, many works focus on specific local contexts or on thematic ‘niches’, which make them not less significant than they are, but aimed at a ‘selected’ readership and not able to provide their ‘audiences’ with a comprehensive view of what toponymy is, especially at the diachronic level.

Because of this, research is still urgently needed on place names in contact areas from all over the world and from different chronological contexts (e.g., toponymic processes triggered by settlement dynamics in prehistoric times and/or in border areas between two different language families), both at the qualitative level (e.g., possible delineation of prehistoric population dynamics through the reconstruction of specific etymologies of localised place names) and at the quantitative level (e.g., possible discovery and classification of large toponymic systems involving the same, original naming process).

Another theme of profound interest is represented by the description and reconstruction of place names and toponymic systems in aboriginal and indigenous territories, especially in the (too) many areas of the world where the local languages are still undocumented and, therefore, endangered. This also opens up a window on oral traditions and cultural identities which, especially in those contexts, have an active and prolific part in the (place) naming processes.

The links between toponymy and human geography are self-evident, as well as the connections with historical geography and with what is called today socio-onomastics. These ‘sister-disciplines’ of toponymy represent a relatively new thematic territory, at the interdisciplinary level, which needs to be thoroughly explored.

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