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Conference Information

Full Title: 2017 International Symposium on Place Names

Short Title: ISPN 2017
Location: Windhoek, Namibia
Start Date: 18-Sep-2017 - 20-Sep-2017
Contact: Chrismi Loth
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: Critical toponymy: Place names in political, historical and commercial landscapes

The Joint IGU/ICA Commission on Toponymy, the Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment at the University of the Free State (UFS), and the Department of Language and Literature Studies at the University of Namibia (UNAM) cordially invite proposals for the next bi-annual international symposium on place names.

The advent of critical theory in humanities and social sciences is reflected in the rise of critical toponymy. This approach explores the social, cultural, economic, political, and etymological origins of place names, and also considers how their meaning(s) change over time. As such, the landscape emerging from old and new place names can be constructed through physical, historical, or commercial evidence.

Such a method is possible because place names serve as historical records. They reflect the (changeable) geographical characteristics of a specific place, which includes the vegetation and animal life. Significant events and people are remembered via place naming. Even structures of social organisation, including political regimes and commercial enterprises, motivate the choice of names. As such, place names are also forms of (shared) cultural and linguistic heritage.

Place names are therefore important symbolic markers in reserving or changing cultural identities, and in marking or facilitating socio-political changes and relations. This role cannot be understood without thoroughly exploring the origin and meanings of place names.
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Philosophy of Language; Sociolinguistics
LL Issue: 28.655

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