Friday, November 30, 2012


I allow myself to copy-paste my article of 2010 (, where I introduced for the first time the term of GEONOMASTICS - GEOgraphic oNOMASTICS:



This article aims to discuss, firstly, the substantiation of a new discipline within the applied onomastics with a short excursion into the historical domain, its relationship to other sub-disciplines, then its difference from toponymy, and finally to give an example of contemporary works at the intersection of geography, linguistics, onomastics, cartography, map semantics and others.

Cette communication vise à discuter, d'abord, la justification d'une nouvelle sous-discipline au sein de l’onomastique appliquée avec une brève incursion dans le domaine historique, sa relation avec d'autres sous-disciplines,  puis sa différence par rapport à la toponymie,  et enfin à donner un exemple d'œuvres contemporaines à l'intersection de la géographie, la linguistique, l‘onomastique, la cartographie, la cartosémiotique et autres.

Dieser Artikel zielt darauf ab, erstens, die Begründung einer neuen Disziplin innerhalb der angewandten Onomastik mit einem kurzen Ausflug in die historische Domäne zu diskutieren, ihr Verhältnis zu anderen Teildisziplinen klarzustellen, dann die Unterschiede zur Toponymie zu offenbaren, und schließlich die Beispiele der aktuellen geonomastischen Werke zu geben, die am Schnittpunkt der Geographie, Linguistik, Onomastik, Kartographie, etc. liegen.


Let us discuss the discipline known as ‘onomastics’. By definition its field of study is concerned with proper names: anthroponyms, toponyms, hydronyms, astronyms, etc. Proprial units are so multifaceted that onomastics may cover a wide range of scientific activities. Philological point of view deals with linguistics of proper nouns, their grammar, meaning, morphology, and even etymology. On the other hand, “observing the geographical and chronological distribution of certain names and then putting this knowledge to use (for instance by saying that because of his name, someone probably comes from a certain city or area, and then basing demographic observations on this) will take us to another level of onomastics which we may call “applied” onomasticsi…” (Bodel, 2001:77). In this article, we will show how namely geography can include the application of onomastics for social research and public policy but has a parallel history in academic research seeking to understand the processes by which naming mechanisms of people evolve geographically and are formed spatially on the map.

The geographical dimension of name has been an almost wholly unexplored dimension in onomastics. This is a surprising state of affairs since modern onomastics can claim roots in a number of spatially-aware antecedents: the cartographic tradition of dialectology, linguistic anthropology, the cultural geography, and so on. The name has been untheorised, unexamined, and its role in shaping and being shaped by culture untested. Furthermore, human geography, the discipline to which onomasticians might reasonably look in order to rectify this under-exploration, itself underwent, in the last quarter of the 20th century, a deal of self-searching, questioning its objectives and its very existence as a separate field of science. Therefore, geonomastics, or geographic onomastics, can be considered as one of the onomastic meta-disciplines, even though the term is absolutely new.

What’s in a name?

However, it is curiously to note that, about fifty years ago, John K. Wright (1891–1969), an American geographer, notable for his cartography, geosophy, and study of the history of geographical thought, in his review “The Language of Geographyii” of A Glossary of Geographical Terms, polemizing with L. Dudley Stamp, points:

“The particular ‘science’ in question might be called geonomastics and it could be pursued as a branch of either semantics, or of Onomastics, which Mr, Aurousseau says is ‘the scientific study of the human habit of naming things’ […], or of geosophy, which I once defined as ‘the study of the nature and expression of geographical ideas’ […] and is itself a branch of epistemology” (Wright, 1962:73; emphasized by us).

It can also seem extraordinary, but, about more than one hundred years ago, Francesco L. Pullé (1850-1934), orientalist from the University of Bologna, had used the adjective ‘geonomastic’ in his article Geography in Italy in 1901iii:

“The proportions of the various geonomastic lists can be conjectured from a work by Signor Crivellari in conjunction with Professor Ulrico. […] The work in question was about the Alpine Department of Bormio, including the three communes of Bormio, Valfurva, and Valdidentro, contained in” (Pullé, 1902; emphasized by us).

So, a logical definition must view geoonomastics as study of onomastics in relation to geography and as systematization of the facts about how proper names are used on a given territory/map. To this may be added the following derivative words:
ge(o)onomastic (adjective) – relating to the study of the geography and repartition of names;
ge(o)onomast, ge(o)onomastician, or even ge(o)onomatologist (noun) – a person who studies proper names in relation to geography;
ge(o)onomasticon (noun) – a collection of names and terms or a list of proper nouns naming places or persons within one or more areas;
ge(o)onomastically (adverb) – in a ge(o)onomastic way;

It is essential to signalize that the noun geonym doesn’t fit in that word-formative system. Since the last resolution concerning the Working Group on Terminology, adopted by the Eighth Conference (VIII/3, 2002) the terms ‘geonym’, ‘geoname’ and their definitions were discussed by the Working Group at its meeting on the occasion of the 22nd session of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names and approved for inclusion in the Glossary in 2004. Geonym is defined as geographical name or name of a geographical feature, while geoname is informal alternative for geographical name. As we will see below, the elementary unit of geonomastics is represented by proprial unit, a name of general onomastic feature and not only a geographical one.

Relationship to onomastics, geography and other disciplines

The controversial case in the spectrum of specializations in onomastics is what is generally called an “applied discipline”. While some epistemologists regard it as a type of sub-discipline, others do not construe it on that level, arguing that the activities within an applied discipline include more than just subsets of the component-specific sets of activities which constitute a discipline (Posner, 2003:2357). Applied onomastics investigates the properties of names in the context of non-onomastic activities. When a person involved in geography describes the properties of names used on a map, when a literary critic describes contextual properties of names used in poems, when a historian working in medieval studies describes historical properties of names used in the Middle Ages, then they may offer their onomastic descriptions as instruments to achieve a certain non-onomastic goal such as influencing that analysis of map, judging the aesthetic quality of that poem, or clarifying the ideas and the usage of the names in the past. While describing the properties of a name is an onomastic activity, analysing a map is not. It is motivated by particular interests from outside onomastics.

So, applied onomastics is a field of activities which is broader than onomastics. As such, it can neither be regarded as a sub-discipline of onomastics nor, indeed, as a new scientific discipline. But in what relationship is geoonomastics with onomastics? Answering this question is complicated by two unclarities at once: correlation onomastics – linguistics, and geonomastics – geography. On the one hand, the term of geonomastics could be determined by trying solution of that set of equations, but, on the other hand, it is likely the system of inequalities and they don’t correspond to the mathematical one.

Although the realm of onomastics may be thought of as going beyond the borders of linguistics, onomastics is a linguistic discipline at heart. The place of linguistics in onomastics as well as of onomastics in linguistics, the relationship between onomastics and linguistics, and their interdependence are major themes of all onomastic works. As linguistics has undergone momentous change in recent decades, its effect on onomastics is readily observable. In addition, the contemporary onomastics is focusing on the description of proper names in various grammatical models, the description of names at different linguistic interfaces, the search for onymic markers, and neuro- and psycholinguistic findings concerning names.

However, returning to our ‘sought quantity’, we should point out that in onomastics, for example, geography is used to help structure its domain, as manifested in maps called “atlases of family names”. In this context, geography is auxiliary field of onomastics. It may be called “auxiliary discipline” of onomastics. Geography is one of the domain-related auxiliary disciplines of onomastics and studying the domain of onomastics may therefore be regarded as part of applied geography. We may conclude that if someone studies not the domain but another component of that discipline, i.e., its means of presentation, methods, or perspectives, then this set of activities is called a meta-study. If it is recurrent, it is a meta-field. Consequently, with respect to interdisciplinary approach, geoonomastics can be considered as meta-discipline.

Geonomastics versus toponomastics

Why do we need a ‘new’ geonomastics if we can use an ‘old good’ toponomastics?

However, we would like to remind that toponomastics or toponymy is the scientific study of place names (toponyms), their origins, meanings, use and typology. The word 'Toponymy' is derived from the Greek words tópos (τόπος) ('place') and ónoma (ὄνομα) ('name'). Toponymy is itself a branch of onomastics, the study of names of all kinds. So, ‘placename’ is literally calqued from Greek toponym. Etymologically, as a prefix, geo- is taken from the Greek word γη or γαια meaning "earth", usually in the sense of “ground” or “land”. Geo- is thus a prefix for many words dealing in some way with the earth, including among others: geopolitics, geosophy, geocaching, geocoding, geolocation, geotagging, etc. By extension of meaning, nowadays we may say geography of the Moon without referring to the Earth/earth.

Nevertheless, in our view, the portmanteau word ‘geonomastics’ has been inspired by another similar construction, that of geolinguistics. If we take it as point of departure, we can avoid all equivocality and any significant overlaps between toponomastics and geonomastics. Whereas, the toponymy is solely dealing with placenames, we assume that geonomastics may handle all types of names in relation to geography. As we have already mentioned, it can be about atlases of surnames, maps of forenames, diagram of certain proprial units, scheme of repartition of onyms on a given territory, distributional figures of various forms of one name, of shared onymic roots in hydronyms, or of an ethnic names among other nations, percentage maps of one personal name in different areas, and so on. Customarily, the toponomastics does not include these kinds of studies. They regard geolinguistics rather than toponomastics.

In this case, onomastic geography, or geonomastics, is the branch of onomastics and human geography that studies the geographic distribution of proprial units or its constituent elements. There are two principal fields of study within the geography of name: the "geography of names", which deals with the distribution through history and space of names, and "onomastic geography", which deals with regional onomastic variations within languages. Various other terms and sub-disciplines have been suggested, including: a division within the examination of onomastic geography separating the studies of change over time and space; 'geolinguistics of names', a study within the geography of language concerned with 'the analysis of the distribution patterns and spatial structures of names in contact', but none have gained much currency.

Under this angle of view, the geonomastics has a lot to do with areal onomastics, contact onomastics, dialect onomastics, dialectology, dialectography, cartography, population genetics, human geography, geodemographics, ethnography, historical geography, and anthropology. Many studies have researched the effect of 'name contact', as the languages or dialects of peoples have interacted. This territorial expansion of language groups has usually resulted in the overlaying of names upon existing speech areas, rather than the replacement of one name by another. An example could be sought in the Norman Conquest of England, where Old French names became the name of the aristocracy, and Middle English names remained the names of the majority of the populationiv.

Onomastic geography, as a field, is dominated by onomasts rather than geographers. We would describe the difference as resulting from a focus on names, and only then with their geographical or social variation, as opposed to investigation of the processes making for change in the extent of name areas. Geonomastics has been geographical only in the sense that it has been concerned with the spatial distribution of onomastic phenomena. In recent times greater emphasis has been laid upon explanation rather than description of the patterns of naming change. The move has paralleled similar concerns in geography and onomastic studies. These studies have paid attention to the social use of names and to naming variations in dialect within cultures in regard to social class or occupation. And we are sure that the future of name studies and the study of class-marked or diachronic distinctions are likely to be of considerable interest to everyone.

Cartography, cartosemiotics and geonomastics

The results of an onomastic research can be demonstrated by means of the cartography and map semiotics. In our case, it means drawing an onomastic map. By the latter we understand a thematic map showing the geographic distribution of the names or isoglosses of an onomastic continuum of the same proprial unit. A collection of such maps is a geonomastic atlas. Now let us give a look at some ensuing theoretical points.

It is important to remark that it is related to thematic cartography which involves maps of specific geographic themes, oriented toward specific audiences. This map illustrates a particular onomastic subject and contrasted the general map, in which the variety of geographical phenomena regularly appears together. The contrast between the both of them lies in the fact onomastic maps use the base data as boundaries, coastlines and places, only as point of reference for the name phenomenon being mapped (Norman Thrower, 2007:95). Onymic maps also emphasize spatial variation of one or a limited number of onomastic distributions. These distributions may be physical phenomena such as place of residence or statistical characteristics such as name frequency and name density issues. In our context the description of that difference from Barbara Petchenikv “in place, about space” could be rephrased as “in name, about space”. While general maps show where something is in space, onomastic maps tell a name story about that place. As the volume of geographic data has exploded over the last century, onomastic cartography has become increasingly useful and necessary to interpret spatial, cultural and social datavi. We are firmly of opinion that geonomastic maps can portray social, physical, cultural, political, economic, agricultural, sociological, or any other aspects of a nation, region, state, city, or even a whole continent.

Additionally, we believe that the cartosemiotics, also called cartographic semiotics, being the semiotic study of cartographic models (or cartographic representation forms), such as maps, globes, relief models, animations, and many others, can be very helpful for our geonomastic meta-discipline. These models and onomastic maps have in common that they represent the space of the earth by means of a model space. The aims of cartosemiotic research are intellectual enlightenment as well as practical application. The subject matter of cartosemiotics is covered under five themes: (1) map symbolism, also called map language, that is, the type of sign systems that are manifested in individual map faces; (2) marginal notes; (3) peripheral signification phenomena; (4) the processes in which humans handle signs, or sign processes for short; (5) the contexts in which signs and sign processes are embedded (Wolodtschenko, 2006; Schlichtmann, 2008). Taking into consideration these cartosemiotic points, cartosigmatic and cartosemantic investigations (Wolodtschenko, 2007), we could enrich and contribute a lot to geonomastics for it simplifies the map-drawing and map-reading tasks.

Onomastic maps serve three primary purposes:

First, they provide onomastic information about particular locations;
Second, they provide general information about spatial and naming patterns;
Third, they can be used to compare naming patterns on two or more maps.

Common examples are maps of statistical data such as name frequency or name popularity. When designing an onomastic map, cartographers must balance a number of factors in order to effectively represent the name data. Besides spatial accuracy, and aesthetics, quirks of human visual perception and the presentation format must be taken into accountvii.

In addition, the audience is of equal importance. Who will “read” the onomastic map and for what purpose helps define how it should be designed. A geographer might prefer having onomastic information mapped within clearly delineated county boundaries. An onomatologist could certainly benefit from county boundaries being on a map, but linguistic and cultural nature seldom falls into such smooth, man-made delineations. In which case, a dasymetric onomastic map charts the desired information underneath a transparent county boundary map for easy location referencing.

An onomastic map is univariate if the name data are all of the same kind. Name frequency, forename distribution, and population density are three examples of univariate data. Bivariate name mapping shows the geographical distribution of two distinct sets of data, one of which is the onomastic one. For example, a map showing both population density and surname frequency may be used to explore a possible correlation between the two phenomena. More than two sets of data leads to multivariate mapping. For example, a single map might show administrative division and one-name popularity in addition to population density and name distribution.

Cartographers use many methods to create onomastic mapsviii, but five techniques are especially noted:
Choropleth name mapping shows statistical-onomastic data aggregated over predefined regions, such as states or counties, by shading or colouring these regions. For example, countries with higher rates of a certain surname might appear darker on a choropleth map and reversibly. This technique assumes a relatively even distribution of the measured onomastic phenomenon within each region;
The proportional symbol technique uses symbols of different sizes to represent onomastic data associated with different locations or areas within the map. For example, a disc may be shown at the location of each city in a map, with the area of the disc being proportional to the frequency of one concrete name in the city;
Isarithmic maps depict smooth continuous onomastic phenomena such as precipitation where, for example, a line connects points on a map that have the same form of a given name;
A dot may be used to locate each occurrence of an onomastic phenomenon; it is a map where each dot represents one name or one set of names. Where appropriate, a dot may indicate any number of names, for example, one dot for every 100 persons bearing the same name;
A dasymetric onomastic map is similar to a choropleth map, but one in which the regions are not predefined but chosen so that the distribution of the measured onomastic phenomenon within each region is relatively uniform (Slocum et al., 2005).

Nowadays, we are at liberty to create onomastic maps with the help of an online free application to build and share thematic maps (e.g., MapsGeek or by means of free software for creating online as well as offline interactive maps (e.g., StatPlanet

Examples of the geonomastic techniques

Although space has been under-theorised in onomastic studies, a number of researchers, from the traditional onomatologists through to those interested in the cartography of contact, have, of course, been actively engaged in research on the geography of name distribution. A common production of onomastic investigators of different cultures is the shaded and dotted map showing where one onomastic feature ends and another begins or overlaps. Various compilations of these maps for Europe have been issued over the years, including William J. Smith’s Atlas of Family Names in Ireland (1988), Gabriel Lasker’s Atlas of British Surnames (1990), Ann Marynissen’s De atlas van familienamen in het Nederlandse taalgebied (1995), Ian Gregory’s The Great Britain Historical GIS Project: From maps to changing human geography (2002), Steve Archer’s 19th Century British Surname Atlas (2003), Damaris Nübling and Konrad Kunze’s Deutscher Familiennamenatlas (2005-2012), Stefanie Barker, Stefankai Spoerlein, Tobias Vetter, Wolfgang Viereck’s An atlas of English Surnames (2007), Gerrit Bloothooft’s Nederlandse Familienamenbank (2009) and Nederlandse Voornamenbank (2010), Peter Gilles’s Luxemburgischer Familiennamenatlas (2009-2012), Rudolf Steffens’s Digitales Flurnamenlexikon (underway).

By way of conclusion

As we could see, the geonomastics is a meta-discipline which can be useful for multiple geographic projects. The analysis of proprial units represents a very promising alternative method to be employed as a proxy for culture, language, and cartography. Personal names are in principle good indicators of ethnicity, at least in relation to the immediately previous generations, that gave the forename to their descendents and probably exercised some preference in the surname. Names can be viewed as a kind of self-assignment of ethnicity that is likely to have strong links to the language, culture and geography of a person’s ancestry. Names can be used in particular to identify the main ethnic minority populations in some areas with a relatively good degree of accuracy.

Naming is produced within a cultural ideology that almost demands a representation of certain ideas/messages pertaining to such major themes as identity, politics, geographic space and society as well as macro themes relating to ethnicity, gender, sexuality, history and the culture. However, it is necessary to recognise that considerable quantity of interesting and valuable considerations of functioning of proper nouns in concrete societies have not yet led to formation of the harmonious and consecutive theory of geonomastics. Today there is not yet complete description of onomastic systems of forenames’ spatial distribution.

Various onomastic studies actually tend to the development of an interactive environment for researchers, built upon efficient indexing, geo-referencing and cartographic visualization. Even when fully linked, with 100% reliability, the database will be of little use if it cannot be searched efficiently. Visualization tools can be helpful, even in the production phase, to access the large amount of data. All researchers can also benefit from software to exploit the spatio-temporal information in the data (see thematic links below). By explicitly geo-referencing data records, learning and knowledge representations can be made to encompass temporally and geographically onomastic components. Nowadays, exploration and data mining must be done in a graphical interface allowing easy manipulation based upon spatio-temporal criteria. This will make it possible for example to display on the screen regions with high/low frequencies or the spread of certain variations in names during a specific period on a given territories. Application of these criteria to large cartographic databases will have an innovative character. Especially the mining of onomastic spatio-temporal patterns, the development of application specific ontologies and the extension of markup languages to spatio-temporal ones form an active modern research area.


Bloothooft, G. 2002. Naming and subcultures in The Netherlands. In: E. Brylla and M. Wahlberg (ed.) Proceedings International Conference of Onomastic Sciences. Part 2, 53-62. Uppsala.
Bloothooft, G., Groot, L. 2008. Name Clustering on the basis of parental preferences, Names, Vol.56. 3, 111-163.
Bloothooft, G., Onland, D. 2011. Socioeconomic determinants of first names, Names. Vol.59. 1, 25-41.
Cheshire, J., Mateos, P. Longley, P. A. 2009. Family Names as Indicators of Britain’s Regional Geography. CASA Working Paper Series. 149.
Cheshire, J., Longley, P.A., Singleton, A.D. 2010. The Surname Regions of Great Britain. Journal of Maps, v2010, 401-409.
Norman Thrower, J.W. 2007. Maps & Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society. University of Chicago Press.
Posner, R. 2003. The Relationship between Individual Disciplines and Interdisciplinary Approaches. Semiotik: ein Handbuch zu den zeichentheoretischen Grundlagen von Natur und Kultur. Vol. 3, 2341-2374.
Schlichtmann, H. 2008. Cartosemiotics. In: Bouissac, P., ed., Semiotics encyclopedia online. Toronto: E.J. Pratt Library - Victoria University.
Slocum, T. et al. 2005. Thematic Cartography and Geographic Visualization. Prentice Hall. 2nd Edition.
Wolodtschenko, A. 2003. Structural Models in Cartography. In: The Selected Problems of theoretical Cartography 2002. Proceedings of a seminar of the ICA-Commission on Theoretical Cartography, 73-81. Dresden: ICA.
Wolodtschenko, A. 2006. Атласная картосемиотика. [Atlaskartosemiotik]. Dresden.
Wolodtschenko, A. and Gordyeyev, A. 2007 Cartosigmatic Analysis of Atlases (On an example of analog atlases of the Sankt Petersburg/Leningrad). In: Proceedings of the 23. ICC, Moscow.
Wolodtschenko, A. 2009 Zur Klassifizierung der Kommissionen der Internationalen Kartographischen Vereinigung (IKV). In: Meta-carto-semiotics: Journal for Theoretical Cartography, Vol.2.
Wolodtschenko, A. 2009. Atlasregister: Struktur, Systematik und Namensammlung (am Beispiel des Nationalatlas Bundesrepublik Deutschland). In: Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress of Onomastic Sciences (ICOS-2008). Toronto: CDROM.
Wolodtschenko A. 2009. e-glossary: Картосемиотика [cartosemiotics] (3rd ed.). Dresden: Technische Universität Dresden.

i John Bodel, Epigraphic evidence. Ancient history from inscriptions. London: Routledge, 2001. 246 S.
ii In The Geographical Journal, Vol. 128, No. 1, 1962 (
iii In Scottish Geographical Journal, Vol. 18, Issue 9 September 1902 , pages 471 – 479.
iv Insley, John 'The study of Old English personal names and anthroponymic lexica // Person und Name. Methodische Probleme bei der Erstellung eines Personennamenbuches des Frühmittelalters, edited by D Geuenich, W. Harbrichs and J Jarnut Berlin: Walter de Guyter, 2002, pp. 148-176.
v Barbara Petchenik (1979). From Place to Space: The Psychological Achievement in Thematic Mapping, American Cartographer 1.
vi Thematic Maps: Map Collection & Cartographic Information Services Unit. University Library, University of Washington. Accessed 27 Dec 2009.
viii Michael Friendly (2008). "Milestones in the history of thematic cartography, statistical graphics, and data visualization":

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Professor Konrad Kunze

The next hero of Onomastics is my actual supervisor Professor Konrad Kunze. He is a great scholar, dedicated to onomastics, namely digital onomastics. He has been a founder of German Surname Atlas project to the end of 90s. Now he is Emeritus at the University of Freiburg, but you can see him every day in his office where he does continue to work with volumes representing the geography of surnames within Germany. He is very kind and helpful!!!

from hier (in German):

Professor Konrad Kunze

Konrad Kunze (17. Mai 1939 in Titisee-Neustadt) ist ein deutscher Literatur- und Sprachwissenschaftler. Er lehrte bis zu seiner Pensionierung 2004 an der Universität Freiburg.


Nach dem Abitur, das er 1958 auf dem Fürstenberg-Gymnasium Donaueschingen ablegte, studierte Kunze an den Universitäten Freiburg, Innsbruck und Würzburg Latein, Germanistik und katholische Theologie. In Freiburg promovierte er 1966 mit einer Dissertation zum Thema: „Texte und Studien zur Legende der heiligen Maria Aegyptiaca im deutschen Sprachgebiet“. Er habilitierte sich 1984 an der Universität Würzburg mit einer Arbeit über das „Sondergut der elsässischen Legenda Aurea“.

Seit 1970 war er Akademischer Oberrat am Deutschen Seminar der Universität Freiburg, seit 1992 außerplanmäßiger Professor. 1983 bis 1993 leitete er das Projekt „Deutsche Hagiographie“ bei der Würzburger Forschergruppe „Prosa des deutschen Mittelalters“. Seine Hauptforschungsgebiete sind deutsche und lateinische Literatur des Mittelalters, Legenden- und Heiligenforschung, Ikonographie, Sprachgeschichte, Dialektologie und Namenforschung.

Kunze war einer der ersten Namenforscher, der die moderne Computertechnik nutzte, indem er elektronische Adressbücher bzw. Telefonverzeichnisse auswertete, um festzustellen, in welchen Gegenden welcher Name besonders häufig vorkommt. Gemeinsam mit Damaris Nübling vom Deutschen Institut der Universität Mainz initiierte und leitet er seit 2005 das von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft geförderte Projekt „Deutscher Familiennamenatlas“.

Öffentliches Wirken

Seit 2003 betreut Kunze eine Rubrik zur Namenkunde im Programm von SWR4 Südbaden, in dem Hörerinnen und Hörer Herkunft und Bedeutung ihres Namens erfragen können. Auch der von ihm herausgegebene dtv-Atlas über die Namenkunde, der immer noch in hoher Auflage erscheint, gilt als Standardwerk für die Namenkunde. Kunze ist darüber hinaus ein viel gefragter Referent zur Namenkunde, der auch außerhalb der Universität regelmäßig Vorträge hält.
Auch auf einem anderen Spezialgebiet, der mittelalterlichen Kulturwissenschaft, wurde Kunze einem breiten Publikum bekannt: sein Buch „Himmel in Stein. Das Freiburger Münster“, mit dem er in die Symbolwelt des Freiburger Münsters einführt, hat eine weite Verbreitung außerhalb der Fachwissenschaft erfahren.


Landes-Lehrpreis Baden-Württemberg 1994
Festschrift „Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur“ zum 65. Geburtstag, Hamburg 2004

Schriften (Auswahl)

Studien zur Legende der heiligen Maria Aegyptiaca im deutschen Sprachgebiet (= Philologische Studien und Quellen. H. 49, ISSN 0554-0674). Schmidt, Berlin 1969.
als Herausgeber mit Hans Fromm, Kurt Gärtner und Klaus Grubmüller: Konrad von Fussesbrunnen: Die Kindheit Jesu (= Litterae 42). Ausgewählte Abbildungen zur gesamten handschriftlichen Überlieferung. Kümmerle, Göppingen 1977, ISBN 3-87452-331-4.

als Herausgeber: Die Legende der Heiligen Maria Aegyptiaca. Ein Beispiel hagiographischer Überlieferung in 16 unveröffentlichten deutschen, niederländischen und lateinischen Fassungen (= Texte des späten Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit. Bd. 28). Schmidt, Berlin 1978, ISBN 3-503-00582-X.
zusammen mit Wolfgang Kleiber und Heinrich Löffler: Historischer südwestdeutscher Sprachatlas. Aufgrund von Urbaren des 13. – 15. Jahrhunderts (= Bibliotheca Germanica 22A–22B). 2 Bände (Bd. 1, Text: Einleitung, Kommentar und Dokumentationen. Bd. 2, Karten: Einführung, Haupttonvokalismus, Nebentonvokalismus, Konsonantismus.) In Weiterführung der im Institut für Geschichtliche Landeskunde Freiburg unter Leitung von Friedrich Maurer geschaffenen Grundlagen. Francke, Bern/ München 1979, ISBN 3-7720-1440-2.
Himmel in Stein. Das Freiburger Münster. Vom Sinn mittelalterlicher Kirchenbauten. Herder, Freiburg (Breisgau) u. a. 1980, ISBN 3-451-18279-3 (13., Auflage der Gesamtausgabe. ebenda 2007, ISBN 978-3-451-29254-5).

als Herausgeber: Das Sondergut (= Die Elsässische „Legenda aurea“. Bd. 2 = Texte und Textgeschichte. Bd. 10). Niemeyer, Tübingen 1983, ISBN 3-484-36010-0.
zusammen mit Hubert Klausmann und Renate Schrambke: Kleiner Dialektatlas. Alemannisch und Schwäbisch in Baden-Württemberg (= Themen der Landeskunde. H. 6). Konkordia-Verlag, Bühl/Baden 1993, ISBN 3-7826-0166-1 (3., durchgesehene und ergänzte Auflage. ebenda 1997).
dtv-Atlas Namenkunde. Vor- und Familiennamen im deutschen Sprachgebiet (= dtv 3234). Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, München 1998, ISBN 3-423-03234-0 (5., durchgesehene und korrigierte Auflage. (= dtv 3266 Reihe „dtv-Atlas“). ebenda 2004, ISBN 3-423-03266-9.
Atlas Namenkunde. Vor- und Familiennamen im deutschen Sprachgebiet (= Digitale Bibliothek 124). Digitale Version. Directmedia-Publishing, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-89853-524-X.

Mitarbeit an:
Flurnamenbuch Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart 1993.
Topographische Karte 1:25000, Landesvermessungsamt Baden-Württemberg, Neuausgabe 1980-97.
Bibliotheca Sanctorum, Università Lateranense, Roma 1961-69.
Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, Rom/Freiburg 1970-76.
Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters. Verfasserlexikon, Berlin/New York 1978-2005.
Lexikon des Mittelalters, München/Zürich 1980-99.
Enzyklopädie des Märchens, Berlin/New York 1975ff.
Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique, Paris 1932-2002.
Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft, Berlin/New York 1997ff.


Freiburger Bibliographisches Taschenbuch der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität. Jg. 8, 1997, ZDB-ID 985603-1, S. 142.
Schriftenverzeichnis bis 2004 in: Václav Bok, Ulla Williams, Werner Williams-Krapp (Hrsg.): Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur. Festschrift für Konrad Kunze zum 65. Geburtstag (= Studien zur Germanistik. Bd. 10). Kovač, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-8300-1457-0, S. 418–433.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Landscape of Surnames

reposted from

The landscape of surnames

Info of 4 January 2012

As Professor of Historical Linguistics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Damaris Nübling's special interest is the development of the German language from its first documented form as Old High German, dating to around 800 AD, to contemporary German. Her current projects are witness to the fact that historical linguistics is actually anything but a drab and dry-as-dust discipline. Currently she is investigating the morphology of surnames in Germany.

 On being asked whether today's students find the subject of historical linguistics interesting, Nübling replies with a grin: "Much more than you might think." Although most students only become aware of the existence of such a discipline when they come to university to study, they soon discover that it has its own unique fascination. Nübling's own experience was no different to that of most freshman students today. "I'm actually a frustrated biologist," she confesses. It was her ambition to study biology, but because she did not get a place to study this discipline at first, she decided to take German studies for a semester to fill in the time. Back then she was studying in Freiburg and she became so enamored of linguistics that when she was subsequently actually offered a place to study biology she decided to let the chance slip. As a result, her field of study is now the evolution of language rather than the evolution of the species.

One of the undertakings that Professor Nübling is currently involved in is the German Surname Atlas (Deutscher Familiennamenatlas) project that is being sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is cooperating with the University of Freiburg in this project, the objective of which is to map the distribution of surnames in Germany. For this purpose, Nübling and her team obtained information on all surnames registered in Germany and the associated postal codes using the documentation compiled by Deutsche Telekom. This enabled the researchers to see which surnames tend to occur in which regions. They were able to conclude from this not only how surnames had originated and spread, but were also able to formulate important premises with regard to how the German language has developed. This project is the first undertaking on this scale to look at the distribution of surnames.

Time capsules

Some 500 years ago, people in Germany started to assume what we now call surnames. "There were only a limited number of forenames in use in the Middle Ages," explains Nübling. There might, for example, have been ten men all called "Georg" living in a particular locality. So that people could differentiate between them, they were each given an individual cognomen or byname, which eventually became that person's surname. As a rule, a byname was derived from a particular individual characteristic of the person, such as their place of origin, their profession, or even some aspect of their appearance. If one of the Georgs worked as a blacksmith, he might be called Georg (the) Schmied ("Smith"), and his descendants would continue to bear the byname of their eponymous ancestor even if they never once came into contact with hammer and anvil.

There are currently some 1.1 million different surnames in Germany (including spelling variants, surnames of non-German origin, and double-barreled surnames). For linguists like Nübling, these represent an absolute treasure trove of research material. "They are time capsules that preserve the language of 500 years ago." The various dialects of German in use at the time when names were being developed have survived in written form only in surnames. This means that, with the help of surnames, Nübling and her colleagues can draw important inferences with regard to the dialects of the period and can reconstruct the name landscape of 500 years ago on the basis of current surname distribution. "And this," she concludes, "is a revolution in linguistics." It is only possible to draw such inferences because there is an up to 85% stability within the various name landscapes. In other words: "People tend to stay living where their ancestors once lived." This is perhaps a somewhat surprising revelation in this age of globalization and mobility.

So what do these name landscapes look like? Nübling clicks around a couple of times on her laptop and large numbers of colorful maps that she herself has generated appear on the screen. Recognizable within the outline map of Germany are regions of various hues in which differently colored circles are located. "This is not the chaos it might appear to be at first; these are actually name landscapes," she elucidates, and provides by way of illustration an introduction to the distribution of the common surname "Schmitt" ("Smith") and its spelling variants. The region in which the variant "Schmitz" predominates is green, while the blue area is where the version "Schmitt" is more common. "Those called 'Schmied,' on the other hand, are clustered down here," Nübling points to the red-colored region in the south of Germany. There are clear demarcations between the areas with preferred spelling variants and these roughly coincide with the linguistic frontiers of the old dialect regions.

Why the "Schwab" families do not live in Swabia

Surname distributions can also provide evidence of the migration of population groups, an aspect that is of particular interest to Nübling and her team. The current distribution of the provenance-derived surname "Schwab" (i.e. "Swabian") reveals the migration pattern of the Swabians. With the help of mapping, it is possible to see not just the direction the migration took but also its intensity. "As you can see," Nübling indicates a map, "there are relatively few people living in the Swabia region (or "Schwaben" in German) who have the surname 'Schwab'." But, as she goes on to explain, this is unsurprising in view of the fact that there is nothing unusual about a Swabian living in Swabia. The provenance of a person only becomes an identifying characteristic once they are outside their place of origin. A Michael could have migrated from Swabia to another district and to distinguish him from all the other local Michaels, he may well have been called Michael (the) Swabian (or "Schwab" in German).

Aspects of cultural history can also be revealed by name landscape maps. A map showing the distribution of all surnames associated with wine-growing would make it possible to determine the distribution of various professions, such as that of cooper - represented by the German surnames "Küfer" and "Fassbinder", and the extent of viticulture 500 years ago. Moreover, it allows for the identification of regions where wine was the drink of choice.

The Digital German Surname Dictionary project

It is not the objective of the Digital German Surname Dictionary project to uncover the meanings of personal names, as it is often the subject of popular radio programs in Germany. "We are much more interested in the linguistic and cultural historical aspects," clarifies Nübling. However, the etymology of surnames, in other words, their origin and meaning, is to be investigated in a follow-up project. The year 2012 will see the initiation of a long-term project that is expected to have a duration of 24 years and will result in the creation of the first comprehensive Digital German Surname Dictionary (Digitales Familiennamenwörterbuch Deutschlands). Collaborating on this project are Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the Darmstadt University of Technology under the supervision of the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature. The dictionary will list all German surnames that occur within Germany, including surnames of foreign origin. This project is unique worldwide in that this is the first time that the full current range of surnames within a particular country will have been collated.

What exactly was the initial motivation for this mammoth undertaking? Damaris Nübling has a simple answer to this question: "There is a massive amount of interest in the meaning of surnames." And existing dictionaries only cover a tiny fraction of surnames while many of the provided interpretations of surnames are simply wrong. One of the stated aims of the project is thus to provide factually based reinterpretations of their etymologies. An example of such a misinterpretation is the assumption that the surname "Hunger" was originally associated with vagrants and vagabonds. A glance at the relevant map shows that the name mainly occurs in the Erzgebirge region in the east of Germany and is actually a variant of the name "Unger," which was used to distinguish immigrants from Hungary. Of course, Nübling is aware of the derivation of her own family name: Nübling means "little Norbert."

Whoever "little Norbert" may have been, his descendant claims that the Digital German Surname Dictionary will be a flagship project. Further cooperation with Austria and Switzerland is already at the planning stage. The project will be made available online, and will be free to use for both the general public and those who wish to use it for academic research purposes.

Although she will have her hands full with work on the project over the next 24 years, Nübling does not intend to restrict herself solely to the study of surnames. She finds forenames and the gender aspects of linguistics just as interesting and this has led her to discover that the forenames given to girls and boys in Germany have tended to become increasingly similar in phonetic terms since the 1970s. Thus Leah and Noah have much more in common than the names Heinz and Ursula that were popular 60 years ago. She is busy preparing an application for a new research project in which she intends to investigate the forename changes adopted by transsexuals. "This area is, as yet, completely uninvestigated," she states. Another field of interest is the linguistic ambiguities of the German language. She has worked on the "Duden Grammatik," the standard German grammar reference work, where she repeatedly encountered ambiguities such as the variant forms adopted by certain nouns in the genitive case (for example "des Atlas/des Atlasses" = of the atlas). As she herself emphasizes, none of these variants is actually wrong; what they indicate is that German is a living language that undergoes the changes common to other languages, too. These ambiguities can also represent pointers to what the German language will be like in 100 years time. It is apparent that there is nothing static about language and that the "frustrated biologist" will continue to have much more to do in future.

Monday, November 26, 2012

DFA / 3rd volume

Third volume of the German Surname Atlas published

Merkel, Eberlein, Bäuerle: On the formation of surnames

Info of 12.04.2012

The third volume of the German Surname Atlas has just been published. It looks at the morphology of surnames, i.e., how surnames come to be formed. The 365 maps document with impressive clarity the distribution of various diminutive suffixes in German family names such as -el, -lein, -le, -ken, -chen in names like Merkel, Eberlein, Bäuerle, Seidl, Wilke, or Schmidtchen. Surnames such as Schmidbauer and Kochwagner, for example, are formed from the names of two professions and are almost exclusively to be found in Bavaria. Hyphenated surnames, such as Müller-Lüdenscheid, are largely limited to the regions of former West Germany, since family law in the old German Democratic Republic prohibited double names.

The new volume focusing on morphology includes a grammar section with more than 30,000 names on 1,134 colored maps. The first two volumes of the German Surname Atlas document the various distributions of vowels (volume 1) and consonants (volume 2) in surnames, e.g., the distribution of Meier/Meyer/Maier/Mayer, Schmidt/Schmitt/Schmid/Schmied/Schmitz, or Walter/Walther. Among other things, the map commentaries provide information on the origin and meaning of the names as well as the distribution of individual variants and historical spellings. The next three years will bring three further volumes that will examine the meaning and motivation behind surnames. Volume 4 will examine surnames derived from place of origin and residence, volume 5 will concentrate on surnames derived from professions (Oh, it's my topic!) and so-called nicknames, and volume 6 will consider forenames used as surnames.

The German Surname Atlas is being produced in a joint project supervised by Professor Dr. Konrad Kunze of the University of Freiburg and Professor Dr. Damaris Nübling of Mainz University. The project has been receiving funding from the German Research Foundation since 2005. It not only provides a new basis for the study of onomastics by creating an inventory of the distribution and status of surnames in the Federal Republic of Germany as of 2005, it also provides an essential academic tool that will benefit other disciplines from social history through studies of settlement and migration patterns to genetics. Despite the numerous displacement and migratory activities of past centuries and the increased mobility of modern times, name landscapes have remained remarkably consistent since their initial historical development.

from here:

DFA / 2nd volume

Second volume of the German Surname Atlas published

Universities in Freiburg und Mainz map the 2005 status of the range and distribution of surnames in Germany

Info of 07.12.2010

One year after the publication of the first volume of the German Surname Atlas, the second volume has now been made available. In a project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), academics at the University of Freiburg and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz headed by Professor Dr. Konrad Kunze and Professor Dr. Damaris Nübling have recorded the status and distribution of surnames in the Federal Republic of Germany as of the year 2005. This means that an important cultural asset and an irreplaceable treasure trove for numerous research projects has been safeguarded.

Partly due to their extreme spatial diversity, surnames are the single aspect of European languages that is still largely inadequately recorded. In this respect, it is interesting to note that despite the numerous displacement and migratory activities of past centuries and the increased mobility of modern times, name landscapes have remained remarkably consistent over time. The German Surname Atlas is the only reference work of its kind in the world and the data it includes is interesting not only to onomatologists, linguistic historians, and dialectologists, but also to cultural historians, population and genealogy researchers, and the interested general public.

Using the example of some 20,000 names on 769 color maps, the first two volumes of the German Surname Atlas document the variable distribution of vowels (vol. 1) and consonants (vol. 2) in surnames, e.g., the distribution of the variant versions Meier / Meyer / Maier / Mayer or Schmidt / Schmitt / Schmid / Schmied / Schmitz etc., or the spelling variants of ‘f(f)’ vs. ‘ph’ as in the surnames Steffen and Stephan. Among other things, the map commentaries provide additional information on the origin and meaning of names and the distribution of individual variants and historical spellings.

Volumes to follow shortly will provide information on the development of surnames, on the derivation of surnames from place of origin, place of residence, and profession, and on the origin of nicknames and the provenance of surnames from forenames.

from here:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

DFA / 1st volume

DFA in German means "Deutscher Familiennamenatlas", or "German Surname Atlas" in English. The Project is just perfect and I have a strong intention to participate therein. 

DFG-Projekt "Deutscher Familiennamenatlas (DFA)"

in German please read here:

First volume of the German Surname Atlas now available (from here:

The University of Freiburg and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz publish globally unique reference work

Info of 11.12.2009

Researchers working at the University of Freiburg under the supervision of Professor Dr. Konrad Kunze

and at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz under Professor Dr. Damaris Nübling 

have now published the first volume of the German Surname Atlas. For this they have used comprehensive and systematic digital telephone line data to investigate the distribution of surnames in Germany. The publication of the German Surname Atlas has made a new and globally unique reference work available to those studying the German language, such as onomatologists, dialectologists, and linguistic historians, but will also be of value to cultural historians, genealogists, and the general public.

In its more than 800 pages, the recently published first volume of the German Surname Atlas deals with the variation of vowels in surnames. For example, the extent to which German surnames such as Meyer, Baier, Seiler, etc. are spelled with 'ei' or 'ey' or 'ai' or 'ay' is shown. Baier and Bayer occur mostly in the south of Germany, and Beier and Beyer are found mainly in the eastern part of the country. While the 363 maps of this volume show the distribution of names and name groups, the notes to maps provide readers with information on various aspects such as the origin and meaning of the names, the distribution of individual variants, and historical spellings.

Surnames are the single aspect of European languages that is still largely inadequately recorded, probably due to their extreme spatial diversity. Despite the numerous displacement and migration activities of past centuries and the increased mobility of modern times, name landscapes have remained remarkably unchanged since their initial historical development. Even the regional origin of common names can often be precisely pin-pointed. Thus, Baur is found almost exclusively in the Swabian dialect region while those with the name Stoiber tend to be congregated in Eastern Bavaria, and the name Petersen occurs mostly in the far north.

The first volume on vowel variants will be followed by volumes focused on consonantal variants, morphology, on the derivation of surnames from place of origin, place of residence, or profession, on the origin of nicknames, and on the provenance of surnames from forenames. The project, funded by the German Research Foundation, started in early 2005 and should be completed by early 2012.


FaNUK is one of the greatest project I have ever heard about. Let's read from here:

Family Names of the United Kingdom (FaNUK)

A major research project led by University of West of England in Bristol, now in its third year, is set to create the largest ever database of the UK's family surnames. 

The database contains over 320,000 surnames. Many of the rarer names are recent immigrant names. The database aims to complete detailed investigation of the origins, history, and geographical distribution of the 46,000 most recent surnames in the UK by March 2014. It will subsequently be made publicly available and will be of enormous interest to genealogists, family historians, social historians, historical linguists, and indeed anyone interested in learning more about family names.

The research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) with a grant worth in total £834,350. The project is being carried out with the technical collaboration of the Faculty of Informatics at Masaryk University, Brno, in the Czech Republic, the world’s leading experts in building user-friendly editing and browsing tools for very large databases.

The research is being carried out under the direction of Professor Richard Coates at the Bristol Centre for Linguistics at UWE with lead researcher Professor Patrick Hanks, an eminent lexicographer who is a visiting professor at UWE.

This is the largest project in scale and scope ever undertaken in the UK on family names. There are currently approximately 320,000 surnames in Britain - including very common ones such as Miller or Williams - but there are also large numbers of uncommon surnames with a hundred bearers or fewer.

The study does not focus exclusively on names of English and Scottish origin, but also includes names of Irish, Gaelic, Welsh, and Cornish origin as well as Huguenot, and Jewish. Special procedures are being developed for studying recent immigrant names (i.e. those appearing after 1881) such as Indian and Chinese, and a range of Muslim names with the cooperation of overseas consultants.

Using published and unpublished resources dating from the 11th century onwards, a team of researchers with expertise in historical linguistics and onomastics are collecting information about individual names such as when and where they were recorded, and how they have been spelled. This information is being used to give new and detailed explanations of those names. This new knowledge will be far more reliable and up to date than that found in the books on surnames currently available.

The main product of the research will be a publicly accessible database that people can use for a range of information. Each entry has separate fields which include: the meaning of the surname, the linguistic origin, the geographical origin and the distribution at the time of the 1881 census. In addition, there will be information about the social origins of names. For example, it is well known that the earliest surnames of the landholding classes tended - more than those of other classes - to be descriptions or names of places, whilst those of small tenants and serfs included a high proportion of names ending in –s and –son like Roberts and Jackson. Many of the oldest surnames in Britain are of Norman French origin, taken from the family estates in Normandy, for example Sinclair (from one of two places called Saint Clair) and Craker (from Crèvecoeur in Calvados).

Richard Coates explains, “There is widespread interest in family names and their history. Our project employs the most up-to-date evidence and techniques in order to create a more detailed and accurate resource than those currently available. For example, new statistical methods for linking family names to locations will enable us to provide more accurate and detailed origins for names.

“Some names can have origins that are occupational – obvious examples are Smith and Baker; less obvious ones are Beadle, Rutter, and Baxter. Other names can be linked to a place, for example Hill or Green (which related to village greens). Surnames which are 'patronymic' are those which originally enshrined the father's name – such as Jackson, or Jenkinson. There are also names where the origin describes the original bearer such as Brown, Short or Thin.

“I have always been fascinated by names for people, places, and institutions. Surnames are part of our identity, so most people are interested in knowing about their names. My main interest is in the linguistic side, in the language of origin and the original meaning of the names, but this research is interdisciplinary, drawing also on history, family history, place-name study, geography, official statistics, and genetics.

“Our database will describe the origins of names, both in linguistic terms and also how they arose in the first place. By listing the spellings of the name with a date, we will be able to see how names have changed over the years, and in some cases, this will also give us a snapshot of social history and mobility. My own name 'Coates', for example, literally means 'cottages' in Middle English. It is also applied as a place-name, and in my research, I have discovered that 'Cotes' is the name of a small place in my grandfather's ancestral county of Staffordshire, so that's probably where my surname comes from.

“Names still tend to cluster where they originated, so some that originated in the West Country can still be found in numbers in the region today, for example Batten, Clist, Keck, Yeo and Vagg.”

The project is supported by consultants who are the top authorities on names in those languages which have given us our surnames, such as: Old Scandinavian, Anglo-Norman French, Welsh, Cornish, Gaelic, Yiddish, and more recently other languages such as Polish, Chinese, Arabic, Yoruba and Hindi/Urdu.

Family Names of the United Kingdom (FaNUK) is an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project, running from 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2014.

Principal investigator: Professor Richard Coates
Lead researcher: Proffessor Patrick Hanks
Research Associates: Dr Paul Cullen and Dr Simon Draper (Info is not updated yet. Simon doesn't participate in the project anymore, he was replaced by another historian-mediaevist...)
Research Assistant: Kate Hardcastle
Consultants include: Dr Peter McClure, Dr Kay Muhr, and Dr Matthew Hammond.
Project Coordinator: Deborah Cole
Doctoral Student: Harry Parkin

I am already excited about what we will see in March 2014. As I understood, everybody will get access to the e-database on the Internet. That's great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Today I introduce for the fisrt time an onomastic Russian website.

One of the best is

"Onomastics of Russia / Proper names in our life"

Its author is Sergey Popov (1973) , Phd  (1998), Voronezh.

(photo from here:
He's also an adviser of the Voronezh Region Duma Committee on Education and Youth Policy (cool!!!). Sergey defended his PhD on the linguistic analysis of toponyms in Voronezh Region under the supervision of Prof. Gennady Kovalev, a well-known specialist of Slavonic Ethnonymy.

The website contains the following tabs:


If you read Russian, you are welcome!

Prof. Jürgen Udolph. School project on onomastics.

in German. Onomastic project in the school.

Professor of Onomastics Richard Coates

The next "hero of Onomastics" is Professor Richard Coates. Firstly, I have the privilege to know him personally, and in October 2012 I have been even invited for a job interview within his project FaNUK, which I will present a bit later. Secondly, as far as I know, in the European tradition and context, Prof. Coates is actually one among only two Professors of Onomastics in the UK (another one is already presented Prof. Carole Hough from the University of Glasgow, see below). For the rest of the Europe I can mention just some names with the same title: Prof. Jürgen Udolph, Prof. Enzo Caffarelli, etc

From wiki:

"Richard Coates (born 16 April 1949, in Grimsby, Lincolnshire) is an English linguist. He is professor of linguistics (alternatively professor of onomastics) at the University of the West of England, Bristol. From 1977 to 2006 he taught at the University of Sussex, where he served as professor of linguistics (1991–2006) and as Dean of the School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences (1998-2003). From 1980-9 he was assistant secretary and then secretary of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain. He has been honorary director of the Survey of English Place-Names since 2003, having previously (1997–2002) served as president of the English Place-Name Society which conducts the Survey.

From 2002 to 2008, he was secretary of the International Council of Onomastic Sciences, a body devoted to the promotion of the study of names, and elected as one of its two vice-presidents from 2011-14. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1992 and of the Royal Society of Arts in 2001.
His main academic interests are proper names (from both the historical and the theoretical perspective), historical linguistics in general, the philology of the Germanic, Romance and Celtic languages, regional variation in language, and local history. He is editor of the Survey of English Place-Names for Hampshire and principal investigator of the AHRC-funded project Family Names of the United Kingdom (FaNUK), running from 2010-14, of which Patrick Hanks is lead researcher.

Prof. Coates has written books on the names of the Channel Islands, the local place-names of St Kilda, Hampshire and Sussex, the dialect of Sussex, and, with Andrew Breeze, on Celtic place-names in England, as well as about 400 academic articles, notes, and collections on related topics. In 1998, he introduced a new etymology of the name London, deriving it from the pre-Celtic Old European *(p)lowonidā, meaning 'boat river' or 'swim river', i.e. 'river too wide or deep to ford', and suggested that this was a name given to the part of the River Thames which flows through London; from this, the settlement gained the Celtic form of its name, *Lowonidonjon, by suffixation. His main contribution to linguistic theory is The Pragmatic Theory of Properhood, set out in a number of articles since 2000. (By the way, I have been the first who explained and introduced this theory in French in my PhD thesis of 2009!!!)

He is also the author of Word Structure, a students' introduction to linguistic morphology (Routledge), and of online resources on Shakespeare's character-names and on the place-names of Hayling Island.

Coates has often been cited as a lookalike of former The Velvet Underground singer Lou Reed, with whom he shares a striking resemblance."

The last sentence sounds interesting enough. Let's compare. Here is Lou Reed:

Well, well, well, I doupt a lot. There are some resemblant features, but they are not so striking like that...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Professor of Onomastics Carole Hough

My first "hero of Onomastics" to be presented is:

Professor Carole Hough

(photo and information from here:

Professor of Onomastics (English Language)
telephone: 01413304566
University of Glasgow

Professor Hough is President of the International Council of Onomastic Sciences, First Vice-President of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, Convener of the Scottish Place-Name Society, an Associate Director of the Historical Thesaurus of English, a Council Member of the English Place-Name Society, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Research interests:

Anglo-Saxon law
History of the English Language
Manuscript Studies
Old and Middle English Language and Literature

Carole Hough is Professor of Onomastics. Her research interests include English and Scottish personal names and place-names, literary onomastics, onomastic theory, Old English language and literature, and semantics. Recent books and edited volumes include New Directions in Colour Studies (2011, with Carole P. Biggam, Christian J. Kay and David S. Simmons),  Beginning Old English  (2007, with John Corbett),  The Power of Words: Essays in Lexicography, Lexicology and Semantics  (2006, with Graham Caie and Irené Wotherspoon),  Cultural Contacts in the North Atlantic Region: The Evidence of Names  (2005, with Peder Gammeltoft and Doreen Waugh), and  New Perspectives on English Historical Linguistics: Selected Papers   from 12 ICEHL, Glasgow, 21–26 August 2002 Vol. 2: Lexis and Transmission  (2004, with Christian Kay and Irené Wotherspoon).  She also has about 250 other publications, mainly on Old and Middle English, historical and contemporary semantics, Anglo-Saxon law, onomastics and manuscript studies. She edited the journal  Nomina from 1998-2007. She was Principal Investigator for the JISC-funded Scots Words and Place-names project (March-November 2011, in partnership with Scottish Language Dictionaries and the Scottish Place-Name Society), and is Co-Investigator for the AHRC-funded Mapping Metaphor with the Historical Thesaurus project (2012-2014) and the AHRC-funded Scottish Toponymy in Transition project (2011-2014).

Publications of year 2012:

Hough, C. (2012) Scottish toponymy in transition: progressing county surveys of the place-names of Scotland. Scottish Place-Name News , 33 . pp. 5-7.

Hough, C. (2012) Linguistic levels: onomastics. In: Bergs, A. and Brinton, L.J. (eds.) English Historical Linguistics: An International Handbook. Series: Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science, 1 (34.1). De Gruyter Mouton , Berlin, Germany, pp. 212-223. ISBN 9783110202205

Hough, C. (2012) Review of: Lisi Oliver, The Body Legal in Barbarian Law. Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto Press, 2011. Law and History Review, 30 (2). pp. 641-642. ISSN 0738-2480 (doi:10.1017/S0738248012000041)

Hough, C. (2012) Celts in Scandinavian Scotland and Anglo-Saxon England: place-names and language contact reconsidered. In: Stenroos, M., Makinen, M. and Saerheim, I. (eds.) Language Contact and Development around the North Sea. John Benjamins, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, pp. 3-22. ISBN 9789027248398

Hough, C.A. (2012) Facebook and Falkirk, Twitter and Twynholm: investigating Scottish place-names with social media. Scottish Place-Name News , 32 . pp. 10-11.

Hough, C.A. (2012) Women and law in the Anglo-Saxon period. Early English Laws .

Hough, Carole (2012) Repayment and revenge: metaphorical or metonymic links between two semantic fields. In: Sauer, Hans and Waxenberger, Gaby (eds.) English Historical Linguistics 2008. Selected papers from the fifteenth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL 15), Munich, 24–30 August 2008. Volume II: Words, texts and genres. Series: Current Issues in Linguistic Theory (324). John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 85-97.

Another great website to be promoted is a young 

It "was founded by Alice Crook and Leonie Dunlop  
, two postgraduate students from the University of Glasgow, after it became apparent that this research field was brimming with new ideas but was in need of a place for discussions to take place. At the University of Glasgow, the lunchtime Onomastic Reading Group now meets fortnightly to discuss anything and everything related to the study of names. Over a pot of tea and a sandwich, everything from dog naming patterns in Africa to the Lochleven parish records in Scotland is chewed over. It is due to this enthusiastic bunch that this website came to fruition: with many thanks to Scott McGready, the website’s designer and developer, without whom it would have stayed an idea for a long time! Please put the kettle on and have a cuppa while enjoying browsing the website and joining in lively conversations. We hope this will spur you into attending a place-name walk or conference and will give you a place to keep discussions going in between onomastic events". (from here)

I think it's just wonderful what what they are doing there and in the future it will be very visited and helpful. We wish to Glaswegian onomasticians all the best in their web-onomastic job! Thank you, girls!!!

I must make a point that this website and all the actual onomastic studies in Glasgow are blessed by Professor Carole Hough. To get to know her personally has been a huge honour for me. I met her on the ICOS conference in Barcelona in 2011, but before we prepared a research proposal on the diachronic socio-cultural study of Glaswegian personal names in 2010 in order to apply for UK postdoc and EU grant. I am very thankful to her! My next posting will be dedicated to Prof. Hough.

Prof. Jürgen Udolph. Video 3

about family names, their origin and meaning

International Conference on Onomastics “Name and Naming”

The International Conference on Onomastics “Name and Naming”

Onomastics in Contemporary Public Space
Baia Mare, 9-11 May 2013

Please visit the website of ICONN 2


Names in public space

Official conference languages: Romanian, English, French, Italian, German, Spanish


Every paper presentation is allotted 25 minutes (20 minutes for presentation + 5 minutes for discussions).
The early registration fee is lei 230 (EUR 50), to be paid by March 10, and the late registration fee is lei 320 (EUR 70) to be paid upon arrival.


10.09.2012 – 10.01.2013: submission of registration form (see the "Registration" section of the ICONN 2 website)
10 January 2013: notification of acceptance
10 February 2013: first circular letter and programme draft
10 March 2013: closing date for early registration (lei 230/EUR50) 10 April 2013: second circular letter and final programme
10 June 2013: Full paper submission.

Great!!! I'd like to visit this conference. I have never been to Romania before... 

Baia Mare!!! It might be cool!

Baia Mare ([ˈbaja ˈmare], Hungarian: Nagybánya; German: Frauenbach; Ukrainian: Бая-Маре; Latin: Rivulus Dominarum; Yiddish: באניע, Banya) is a municipality in northwestern Romania and the capital of Maramureş County. The city is situated about 600 kilometres from Bucharest, the capital of Romania, 70 kilometres from the border with Hungary and 50 kilometres from the border with Ukraine.

and for University:

The conference will take place here:

Join us! Let's naming out!!!