Friday, January 1, 2021

Half a Century of Onomastic Research in Karelia


The article marks the 50th anniversary of onomastic research in Karelia which has brought about 12 monographs and dictionaries, as well as several hundred articles. The paper summarizes the most important advances made by the research team in local toponymy studies: a typology of the Balto-Finniс toponyms, the peculiarities of Karelian and Vepsian name motivation, and the ways that Karelian and Vepsian names are adapted to the Russian naming system. 

The development of methods of areal typology allowed the researchers to restore the picture of ethno-linguistic history of Karelia and adjacent territories, based on toponymic evidence. In the field of anthroponymy, the progress relates to the identification of numerous Karelian folk variants of Orthodox names and the reconstruction of medieval male and female personal names system of Karelians and Vepsians. The latter also proved the fact that non-calendar Russian names were actively used among the Karelians at the turn of the Middle Ages and the Modern Times.

Particular attention is given to the research team’s activity and achievements in the field of onomastic lexicography, which produced a number of toponymic dictionaries of different types. The important role of the continuous fieldwork of Karelian toponymists, carried out both in the territory of Karelia and outside the republic, is noted. 

Ultimately, the work of three generations of researchers has been brought together in a comprehensive toponymic card-index comprising 300.000 units in Karelian, Veps, and Russian, as well as its electronic version (GIS Toponymy of Karelia) with additional mapping and analytical functionalities.

Keywords: history of name studies, toponymy, anthroponymy, field onomastics, toponymic dictionary, Karelian language, Veps language, Russian language, Karelia.

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