Vol. 67 No. 2 (2019)

A Clash of Names: The Terminological Morass of a Toponym Class

Published 2019-04-03


  • nicknames,
  • bynames,
  • anthroponymics,
  • cognomina,
  • Old Norse,
  • terminology,
  • medieval names
  • ...More


There are place names all around the world formed by a combination of two elements, a specific and a generic, both of which refer to the same geographic feature type. A typical pattern is for an indigenous generic functioning as a specific to precede a matching introduced generic. For example: Ohio River < Iroquoian Ohio ‘Great River’?+?River; and Lake Rotorua < M?ori roto ‘lake’?+?rua ‘two/second’ (‘Second Lake’)?+?Lake. Such toponyms, though not overall numerous, nevertheless occur often enough to warrant being recognized as a distinct class of place names. The literature provides no adequate or consistent term for this pattern: the various attempts clash with each other, and all fail to address the concept effectively. This article aims to address this situation.


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