The meanings of the generic parts of toponyms: Use and limitations of gazetteers in studies of landscape terms

Curdin Derungs, Flurina Wartmann, Ross S. Purves, David M. Mark*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Are the contents of toponyms meaningless, as it is often claimed in linguistic literature, or can the generic parts in toponyms, such as hill in Black Hill, be used to infer landscape descriptions? We investigate this question by, firstly, linking gazetteer data with topographic characteristics, and, secondly, by conducting analysis of how the use of landscape terms might have changed over time in a historic corpus. We thus aim at answering a linguistic, and ethnophysiographic, research question through digital input data and processing. Our study area is Switzerland and our main focus is on geographic eminences, and in particular on the use of the terms Spitze, Horn and Berg. We show that most prominent generic parts in toponyms show expected topographic characteristics. However, not all generic parts strictly follow this rule, as in the case of Berg. Some generic parts have lost their meaning in standard language over time (e.g. Horn). We therefore put a cautionary note on the use of generic parts in toponyms in landscape studies, but point out that the subtle details of these differences provide rich topics for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpatial Information Theory
Subtitle of host publicationLecture notes in Computer Science
EditorsT. Tenbrink, J. Stell, A. Galton, Z. Wood
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Pages261-278
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9783319017891
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2013
Event11th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory, COSIT 2013 - Scarborough, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Sep 20136 Sep 2013

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume8116 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349

Conference

Conference11th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory, COSIT 2013
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityScarborough
Period2/09/136/09/13

Keywords

  • ethnophysiography
  • gazetteers
  • generic parts
  • GIR
  • landscape terms
  • proper names
  • toponyms

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    Derungs, C., Wartmann, F., Purves, R. S., & Mark, D. M. (2013). The meanings of the generic parts of toponyms: Use and limitations of gazetteers in studies of landscape terms. In T. Tenbrink, J. Stell, A. Galton, & Z. Wood (Eds.), Spatial Information Theory: Lecture notes in Computer Science (pp. 261-278). (Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics); Vol. 8116 LNCS). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-01790-7-15, https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-86889