Vol. 65 No. 4 (2017)

Indigenous Toponyms in the Antipodes: A Gazetteer-Based Study

Published 2017-10-02


  • Bushman,
  • place names,
  • language contact,
  • toponyms,
  • indigenous


During the centuries of Britain’s colonial expansion, English was transplanted to the four corners of the globe, and became an extensive and prolific borrower of general lexical items and toponyms from indigenous languages. The Englishes of Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji are three typical examples. Indigenous loanwords and toponyms comprise one of the most distinctive features of these Englishes, and are regularly used to express national identity. Although these nations share a common colonial language, they differ markedly in their indigenous cultures and languages, the way they were occupied, and the colonizers’ attitudes towards indigenous peoples. These factors significantly influenced relationships between the two groups, and resulted in distinct patterns and degrees of indigenous borrowings into the three regional varieties of English. This gazetteer-based study provides evidence of these patterns and degrees of borrowing through an analysis of the number and distribution of indigenous toponyms in the three jurisdictions. It also considers the various linguistic, sociocultural, attitudinal, and historical factors that shaped place naming.


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