Norwegian Place-name Archive turns 100 years!

by Peder Gammeltoft, Rikke Steenholt Olesen, Krister Vasshus & Alexandra Petrulevich

The Nordic Onomastics community gathered in Bergen, Norway, to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Norwegian Place-Name Archive. The two-day conference that took place on October 28–29 2021 explored a variety of topics including digitization of place-name collections and place-name databases, collection, preservation and standardization of place-names, etymological and socio-onomastic place-name research and more. Most importantly, however, the conference as a whole functioned as a large plenum discussion of the future of onomastic research in Norway and the other Nordic countries.

Highlights from the Conference Talks

The major themes of the conference were digitization of place-name collections, name collection and processing as well as standardization of place-names. The first keynote illuminated the challenges associated with digital reproduction of analogue archive structures in the early 1990s  and encouraged creative thinking when it comes to place-name data models (A. Petrulevich). The completely new database for Norwegian place-names, Norske stedsnavn | Norske stadnamn, launched a few hours before the conference, was presented (P. Gammeltoft, see below for details). Likewise, the much desired digitization of Sámi place-name collection was the focus of K. Rautio Helander’s talk. Name collection and processing was illuminated in the talks on the church’s role in recording local place-names in Falckarp in Scania (O. Svensson) and a recent initiative to digitally record local place-names in Norway (C.-E. Ore).  Challenges associated with current and historical regulations of place-name standardization and use as well as local inhabitants’ understanding of correct spelling of place-names in a national setting without formal legislation were discussed by T. Larsen and R. Steenholt Olesen respectively.

Etymological and socio-onomastic research on place-names as well as the future of onomastics in the Nordic countries were likewise central topics of the conference. The second keynote dealt with urban name use related to a shopping center in Helsinki, Finland, and the aspects of name use and variation in urban contexts (T. Ainiala). Political perspectives on place-name use⁠—be it historical studies of street names or practices of standardization or mapping in the present-day or early modern context⁠—were highlighted by O.-J. Johannesen, I. Nordland and S. Evemalm-Graham. Three talks were devoted to etymological questions concerning specific place-names or place-name types, e.g. names ending in –sete or prepositional place-names (B. Eggert, S. Mascetti, E. Heide). Finally, B. Helleland delved deep into the history of the Norwegian place-name archive; the future of the archive was deemed brighter than before since the preservation of the collection and archive research is now an institutional priority.

New Database of Norwegian Place-names

On the first day of the centenary conference, the new place-name resource, Norske stedsnavn | Norske stadnamn, was presented. Norske stadnamn | Norske stedsnavn is an open-data web-semantic database for searching, viewing and downloading place-name datasets of various kinds. The resource is structured in such a way that data are uploaded and made available dataset by dataset. For the sake of usability, each dataset may be added or omitted from the search and it is possible to search in several datasets at once.

The search is structured as a simple search, but with the possibility of filtering the search result according to the parameters shown in the table view.

It is possible to search also with wildcards, * (multiple characters) and ? (a single character), and a search like helleb?st* yields a result of 21 in four of the five current datasets chosen. Underlined place-names in the search result are linked to their source, either a book digitisation, such as RYGH (Norske Gaardnavne), the digital resource of the source, like the cadastre M1886 (Matrikkelen av 1886). Some datasets are based on digitised paper slip archives, like the BSN (Bustadnamnregisteret) and the scanned paper slip is available as an image, clickable on the little ‘iiif’ icon on the right. The point icon to the right indicates that the place-name has coordinates (see map view below) and the icon with a square with an arrow will take you to an additional resource related to the entry, for instance modern cadastral information. The far right symbol shows that the entry is available in RDF-format and clicking it shows which other information the entry is linked with.

The search result can also be shown as map results, either in the form of a cluster map or a regular point map. Each point appears as a pop-up on click and allows you to view and query its source data, as well as additional information⁠—just like in the table view.

The resource will be continuously improved over the next few years. More datasets will be made available as they become ready, as will the search refined to include other types of searches. Data filtering and viewing will also be improved.

Future of Norwegian and Scandinavian Onomastics

Several thoughts and ideas on how to secure a future for name studies in Scandinavia were discussed during the conference. One of these thoughts was to increase interdisciplinary collaboration. This interdisciplinarity has long roots in Nordic onomastic tradition, as archaeologists and historians were also toponomysts in the early days of the discipline. Expanding the collaboration with other fields of research, such as sociology, anthropology, literary studies, geography, and economics (among others), in addition to strengthening the cooperation that already exists between toponomysts and archaeologists, historians and religious scholars, has several advantages. It will help our discipline develop methods and gain new knowledge, and it will show the relevance of onomastics for the broader academic world. To facilitate this, we should more actively invite scholars from other fields of research to workshops and seminars where we can bring our heads together and bring new ideas to the table.

Another way forward could be to tap further into the knowledge, hobbies and interests of the general public. Cooperation between hobby metal detectorists, archaeologists and toponomysts has resulted in new archaeological finds in Denmark, and will likely do the same if we made similar cooperation elsewhere. The continued recording of names in archives is an ongoing process in which we as name-scholars rely on contribution by the public. At the moment, at least in the current Norwegian solution, we need a better recruitment of volunteers. This could be done by promoting onomastics and crowd-sourced name projects in more technologically updated ways, for instance via social media and blogs as New trends in Nordic Socio-onomastics blog or Københavns gader.

Finally, there is no way for an academic discipline to survive if there is no teaching at academic institutions at both bachelor’s and master’s level. Courses in onomastics do lead to actual jobs with place-names or personal names at above all archives, mapping and cadastre authorities and language authorities in the Nordic countries. There is a need for onomastic competence and there is definitely a need for trained onomasticians to conduct onomastic research. Since some countries, most importantly here Norway, lack academic courses in onomastics altogether, we should be thinking outside the box and—through collaborations within NORNA and/or ICOS—possibly create a Nordic or international course on names for a broader range of students.

Äntligen är NoSo här!

Ni har väl inte missat att första numret av NoSo – Nordisk tidskrift för socioonomastik / Nordic Journal of Socio-Onomastics har kommit? Vilken känsla att hålla det tryckta numret i sin hand efter alla förberedelser och väntan! För den som hellre läser på skärm finns NoSo också Open Acess Online. Äntligen har vi nu en gemensam publiceringskanal för alla socioonomaster och en plattform för tvärvetenskapliga diskussioner om namns betydelse i samhället och i den mänskliga interaktionen – liksom hur vi som forskare bäst studerar dessa spännande frågor. I det första numret (NoSo 1-2021) har medlemmar ur tidskriftens internationella råd bidragit med artiklar utifrån sina respektive forskningsområden. Resultatet blev en myllrande mångfald av perspektiv och metoder!

  • I artikeln Places of power: naming of affective places utforskar Terhi Ainiala och Pia Olsson hur platser och platsers namn kan ge en känsla av ”empowerment”.
  • I Referring to women using feminine and neuter gender: Sociopragmatic gender assignment in German dialects (av Simone Busley och Damaris Nübling) får läsaren bekanta sig med det tyska bruket att i vissa situationer ange förnamn i bestämd form – och den spännande upptäckten att valet mellan feminin respektive neutral bestämning (die Anna eller das Anna) styrs av olika sociala och pragmatiska faktorer.
  • I artikeln The (im)morality of disease names: COVID-19 diskuterar Elwys de Stefani den aktuella frågan om hur sjukdomar bör namnges – och beskriver hur användning av inofficiella namnvarianter kan riskera bidra till stigmatisering och politisering.
  • I Socio(historical) onomastics through the language-philosophical lense, with reference to early New England titles of civility förmedlar Adrian Pablé en teoretisk semiologisk genomgång och kritisk reflektion över den historiska socioonomastikens möjligheter och begränsningar.
  • I Signals of onomastic capital: From transhistorical roots to the contemporary globalized trend of sponsored names analyserar Guy Puzey, Jani Vuolteenaho och Matthias Wolny den idag alltmer utbredda kommodifieringen av sponsrade platsnamn och undersöker hur namn kan fungera som onomastiskt kapital.
  • I en Concluding commentary: the social and political life of names and naming för Reuben Rose Redwood avslutningsvis en kritisk och konstruktiv diskussion om socioonomastikens möjligheter som också innehåller intressanta resonemang kring volymens bidrag. 

Så gå in och läs det spännande första numret, inspireras av de många perspektiven och bidra till fortsatta diskussioner och analyser genom att sända in egna bidrag efterhand! 

P.S. NoSo 1-2021 har redan ca 400 nedladdningar!

Emilia Aldrin

Hälsningar från den 17. nordiska namnforskarkongressen

av Sofia Ahlang, Unna Löppönen, Sanna Antila & Sanna-Mari Korjonen

The 17th Nordic onomastics conference was held on June 8-11th as a virtual conference via Zoom. Researchers from the Nordic countries and Scotland came to give presentations about their newest research. There were participants also from Tjeckien.  We, four students from the University of Helsinki, participated as assistants and helped the participants with the use of Zoom. In this blogpost we will tell you about our experiences as assistants.

Krister SK Vasshus föreläser om stadsnamn och Vikingatiden.

Sofia Ahläng, nordiska språk (svenska som modersmål):

Jag är sommarpraktikant hos Ordbok över Finlands svenska folkmål vid Institutet för de inhemska språken. På den vägen fick jag i uppdrag att vara assistent på NORNA-kongressen. Eftersom kongressen hölls online, på grund av den rådande situationen, så satt jag hemma i min lägenhet. Det är förstås synd att inte kunna uppleva en kongress på det sätt som det är tänkt, men jag tycker ändå det var en mycket lärorik upplevelse. Föredragen var väldigt intressanta, och det var framför allt inspirerande att lyssna på forskarnas samtal efteråt. Jag hade dock trott att jag skulle kunna ta det lugnt och lyssna en rätt stor del av tiden. Där hade jag fel, det var faktiskt mer krävande än jag väntat mig. Men det var roligt, och jag hoppas kunna delta i en kongress på traditionellt sätt i framtiden. Dessutom ger det garanterat mervärde om man är insatt i ämnet, och har lättare att följa med.

Unna Löppönen, Statsvenskapen (politisk historia och kommunikation, Kandidatprogrammet för samhälle i förändring)

I’m a 3rd year student of Social Sciences, and I got interested in the NORNA-conference after taking a course in digital humanities. I also wanted to gain valuable experience about how an online conference is organised, and learn more about onomastics and the newest research in the field. As the conference was held online, I managed to participate from London where I’m currently studying as an Erasmus student. Participating in a conference, where the participants were from different parts of the Nordics and Scotland was also a great way to deepen my international experience. In the conference my tasks included creating a Zoom room, keeping the speakers informed about the time left for their presentations, and helping the speakers and the audience with technical issues. I also had plenty of time to listen to the presentations and learn new about onomastics research. There were many interesting presentations in the conference and the topics varied from the research of place names to the research of the relationship between the name and identity. All in all, if you are a student who is interested in linguistics and want to gain valuable experience, I warmly recommend you to be a conference assistant in the next Norna-conference.

Inge Særheim föreläser på onsdag.

Sanna Antila (politics and communication)

I’m a 3rd year student of politics and communication, and I decided to take part in the NORNA conference to learn more about organizing an online conference over Zoom. I also wanted to challenge myself to practice my Swedish, since I haven’t really used the language after high school, as well as to learn about onomastics, which was a new topic for me. During the 3-day conference I assisted the speakers with Zoom and made sure there were no technical difficulties, so the speakers could focus on their presentations. It was very interesting to hear presentations from the newest research in the field, and to gain experience as an online conference assistant, so I’m very glad I decided to take part in this conference.

Sanna-Mari Korjonen, Nordiska språk (svenska som andra inhemska språket):

For me it was very exciting to be an assistant. I have been organizing a fair once before and like to organize events. I’m quite social and love to be with people and the atmosphere in events is often fascinating. I wanted to take part in this congress as an assistant because of that and I was also interested in to see what onomastics is, it was a completely new thing for me but it also pertains to my studies a bit. During the congress I learned a lot about how Zoom works but maybe the most important for me: I became more interested in Nordic collaboration! I think that it is cool that we can speak our own Nordic language (Swedish in Finland) in communicating with people from other Nordic Countries and get understand with it. Because of this congress I got a spark to learn more other Nordic languages: especially Danish and Icelandic that is a part of my studies (one course) but I would like to learn more than that. This congress was also a window to the fascinating academic world for me as a first year student, maybe also because of the corona situation for I haven’t been studying like normal in university at all but anyway. And like Sanna writes, I am also very glad that I decided to take part in this!

Socioonomastisk studiecirkel på magisternivå

av Kaj Borg
Lektor, nordiska språk, Åbo universitet

Det både forskas och undervisas i namn vid Åbo universitet. Regelbunden undervisning i namnforskning meddelas i läroämnet finska språket av docent i namnforskning Paula Sjöblom, men även i läroämnet nordiska språk skrivs det sporadiskt kandidat- och pro gradu-avhandlingar om egennamn.

På magisternivå kan de studerande vid institutionen för språk- och översättningsvetenskap välja bland tre olika inriktningar: examensstudier för flerspråkig översättning, examensstudier för språkinlärning och -undervisning samt examensstudier för språkexpertis. Inom det sistnämnda alternativet har det getts två fempoängskurser i namnforskning – Nimistöntutkimus I och Nimistöntutkimus II, det vill säga Namnforskning I respektive II. Avsikten med kurserna är att den studerande får grundläggande insikter i vad namn är och hur man kan forska i dem. Kurserna är öppna för alla studerande i samtliga språkämnen oberoende av den valda examensinriktningen.

Vårterminen 2020 höll vi, Paula Sjöblom och jag, den senare av de två kurserna. Medan den första kursen – som är en boktentamen – främst fokuserar på namnteori och namntypologi är påbyggnadskursen tänkt som en fördjupning i aktuell onomastisk forskning. Eftersom den senaste forskningen ofta belyser hur namn ges och används i olika språkliga, samhälleliga eller sociala kontexter, fick kursen på ett naturligt sätt en klar socioonomastisk inriktning.

Intresset för den valfria kursen var glädjande stort. Sammanlagt rymdes dock bara ett dussin studerande med på kursen. De flesta hade något språk som huvudämne, men bland deltagarna fanns det också en blivande arkeolog och en blivande klasslärare. Denna ämnesmässiga mångfald visade sig vara mycket berikande för diskussionerna på kursen.

Kursen ordnades i form av en studiecirkel. Paula och jag valde ett lämpligt antal vetenskapliga artiklar, rapporter och delar av större verk om namn i socioonomastisk belysning och grupperade texterna tematiskt. Vi hade sammanlagt sex sammankomster och de valda temana var följande: Onomastiska grundfrågor, Namn och identiteter i stadsmiljö, Onomastiska landskap, Personnamnssystem, Namn och kön samt Framtidsutsikter för namnforskning. Var och en av deltagarna fick skriva ett kritiskt referat av en vetenskaplig artikel och fundera ut instuderingsfrågor som grund för den gemensamma diskussionen. I slutet av kursen fick var och en också lämna in en inlärningsdagbok med egna reflexioner kring de lästa artiklarna.

En uppsjö olika socioonomastiska frågor togs upp under kursens gång. Vi diskuterade bl.a. hur inofficiella ortnamn i städer används vid inkludering och exkludering av olika persongrupper, hur tvåspråkigheten kommer till synes i kommersiella namn beroende på maktförhållandena mellan språken på orten, hur jämlikheten förverkligas i olika länders personnamnssystem och hur personnamn ger uttryck åt olika könsidentiteter.

Den valda socioonomastiska infallsvinkeln på namn gjorde det lätt för studenterna att inse hur betydelsefulla namn är vid kommunikation och strukturering av den sociala omgivningen. Insikten om att egennamn på ett alldeles speciellt sett kan förmedla kontextuell information fick deltagarna också att komma med en del sådana adekvata iakttagelser om egennamns situationsbundna användning som var nya också för oss lärare.

På grund av coronapandemin hölls lektionerna över videosamtalstjänsten Zoom. Trots de smärre tekniska problemen med de tidvis instabila nätförbindelserna lyckades kursen även tekniskt sett väl. Möjligen var det till och med lättare för deltagarna att koncentrera sig på själva substansen och delta i diskussionerna i ett virtuellt rum än i ett traditionellt klassrumssammanhang.

Kursen kommer att hållas regelbundet även i framtiden. Eftersom den socioonomastiska infallsvinkeln tycks ge en mera rättvisande bild av den senaste forskningen kring namn och göra namnforskningen tillgängligare för studerande, har vi bestämt oss att döpa om kursen till Namn, identitet och samhälle. Socioonomastik är definitivt ett forskningsfält som intresserar och inspirerar magisterstuderande.

Onomastisk studiecirkel på distans

af Johanna Virkkula

Vår studiecirkel i namnforskning (nämnd på denna blogg tidigare) flyttade över till internet i dessa distanstider: våra universitet beslöt att flytta allt (förutom nödvändiga arbetsuppgifter som skötsel av djur; uni i Hfors har veterinärmedicinska och medicinska fakulteter) på distans i medlet av mars. Så vi beslöt att pröva att flytta vår namnforskningscirkel också till webben, på vår vanliga månadstid.

Nu har vi träffats en gång virtuellt. Och vad trevligt det var, och vilken bra diskussion vi fick! Givetvis underlättade det kommunikationen att vi har ett levande samband och att vi känner varandra sedan tidigare. Vi kan alltså tolka varandras språkbruk och miner – det verkar mycket vanligt att man missförstår varandra i möten på webben, och här är den risken inte så överhängande.

Vårt virtuella studiecirkelmöte. Bild: Lasse Hämäläinen

Mitt i vår förändrade vardag har vår studiecirkel gett en uppfriskande möjlighet att ses, och diskutera namnforskning, även i dessa ovanliga förhållanden då vi i övrigt inte ska träffas.

Det som förvånade mig mest var att vi inte miste just alls i djup i diskussionen; liksom tidigare läste vi vår valda text (denna gång Antti Leinos lectio precursoria för doktorsdisputationen, utgiven på finska här), en av oss var beredd att presentera den, och resten att lyfta frågor och dela tankar om hur en kunde tillämpa metoder och teoretiska ståndpunkter i sin egen forskning.

En klar fördel med att träffas på webben – vi använde programmet Zoom – är att vi lyckades få med deltagare virtuellt som inte av olika skäl, många av dem geografiska, lyckats komma med tidigare. Denna fördel är något att ta med sig i framtiden: senare i år när vi säkert har mer och fler erfarenheter av virtuella vetenskapliga möten och konferenser och olika sätt att organisera dem behöver vi diskutera detta.

En klar nackdel var däremot att allt det där informella runt studiecirkeln blev borta, det där då man småpratar med dem som kommit tidigt, i smyg fortsätter en diskussion om vad det nu är som är aktuellt – jobb och stipendiesökningar, husdjur, och sådant där som inte är bekvämt att lyfta i en gruppzoom och inte är tema för vår studiecirkel egentligen, utan bara en av sociala interaktionen av att träffas. Jag tror det är viktigt att komma ihåg att den här sociala interaktionen är en del av att träffas, jag tror att vi kommer att behöva ses på riktigt ibland för att bli vänner; för att ha intressanta diskussioner kollegor emellan räcker det nog att ses virtuellt.

Som avslutning vill jag dock säga: helt klart är det möjligt och givande att träffas med studiecirklar på internet! Vår nästa träff har vi inskriven i kalendern på vår vanliga månadstid, och nästa artikel är vald. Och jag ser fram emot att ses virtuellt med kollegorna igen.

Urban toponomy: teaching socio-onomastics in practice

by Line Sandst

My socio-onomastic research focuses on urban toponomy and meaning-making. I am particularly interested in the modalities and socially constructed geosemiotic conventions that enable language users to distinguish between different grammatical categories (e.g. between proper names and appellatives) – and therefore different kinds of meanings – in the linguistic landscapes.

As assistant professor of Danish Linguistics at Aalborg University, I teach a diverse group of subjects from Danish phonetics, to rhetoric and theories of argumentation to language history. However, I have also experimented with a more direct kind of research-based teaching in socio-onomastics for MA students, as I outline below. I share my thoughts on my teaching practice in the hope that others might benefit from my experiences. Please do feel free to share your viewpoints, experiences and give feedback so we may all benefit from an exchange of ideas.

Teaching objectives

When teaching socio-onomastics from an urban toponymy point of view, I find it important that the students gain experience from actual field studies. I put together a curriculum of texts that can be divided into four overall topics: an introduction to onomastics, methodology, current socio-onomastic studies, and theories of names and naming and other theoretical problems depending on interest, such as multimodality, geosemiotics, language policy etc. During the course, we discuss the texts on the curriculum, but I also spend time helping the students to come up with a relevant research question/problem, and prepare them for conducting fieldwork.

Finding a research question is usually the hardest part for my students. The socio-onomastic scholarship on the curriculum serves as a framework and inspiration for them to come up with their own research questions and designs. I encourage them to find a problem that sparks their academic curiosity as I find that a personal interest is the best motivation for academic work. However, for those students who find it hard to come up with a question, I present three examples of possible studies for inspiration:

  • Investigation of commercial names in the linguistic landscape: Pick a street or an area of town and take photos of the commercial names in the study area. What do you find? (Possible angles depending on the data could be (one or a combination of) e.g. multimodal names, names that do not conform to expectations, names coined in other languages than Danish. Do you find any patterns or tendencies? Are you able to say something about the identity of the study area based on the commercial names?)
  • Investigation of recent street names: Pick an area where there is a construction project under way. Take a walk in the area and take photos. What kind of identity is being created? Do the new names fit the area? How come/ why not? You may even compare your findings to relevant architectural drawings and building contractors’ documents containing ‘visions/narratives’ about the area’s future identity.
  • Investigation of the relation between commercial names and street names: Pick an area with theme based street names and take photos of the commercial names and street names in the area. How many – if any – of the commercial names have a name that fits the theme of the group named area? Are you able to say something about the identity of the area based on the relation between the two name categories?

I encourage my students to work in groups or pairs because it enables them to discuss and solve the problems that might occur during the data collection and later in the analysis process. I find that when students are held responsible to each other, they are less inclined to give up if they are confronted with unforeseen obstacles, or if they find the task at hand hard to complete.

In class, I spend time discussing research questions and research designs with each group and make sure they have a clear idea of how to conduct the actual fieldwork. When interpreting proper names in the linguistic landscape, the researcher always needs to consider the context thoroughly. This is why I encourage my students to take pictures of the proper names as well as other objects they might find interesting in the field, and I instruct them to take field notes during the field study. This makes the subsequent analysis and interpretation much easier.

Presenting the data and results

In the last session, each group has to present their study for the class and I instruct them to present:

  • Research question
  • Presentation of data
  • Possible sources of errors / limitations
  • Analysis and results.

All listeners have to give constructive critique to their fellow students on their fieldwork and studies. Since all students will have fieldwork experience themselves, I find that they are very capable of asking relevant and constructive questions to the studies conducted by their fellow students. Asking the students to offer criticism to one another gives them a unique possibility to reflect upon others’ as well as their own role as researchers. If necessary, I direct the discussions and ask them to relate practice to theory. I sometimes ask how they would have conducted their study, if they had to do it all over, in light of what they have learned through our discussions. My students tend to have already considered the methodological implications of their own practices, and asking this question allows them to reflect further on their study as the first step towards an improved or perhaps different empirical study based on fieldwork – hopefully one with a socio-onomastic point of departure.

New scientific journal for socio-onomastic research

A new scientific journal has been founded by members of the research network New trends in Nordic Socio-onomastics:

Nordisk tidskrift för socioonomastik / Nordic Journal of Socio-Onomastics!

The first volume of the journal, which is published by The Royal Gustavus Adolphus Academy in Sweden, will be available in spring 2021 and possible to access online via the journal website. The first volume open for submission is planned for spring 2022.

The Nordic Journal of Socio-Onomastics will publish peer-reviewed scientific articles that discuss the role of proper names in society and social interaction. The journal is interdisciplinary and welcome articles from any discipline. This allows authors to use a wide range of theories, methods and perspectives to analyse names as well as to combine different types of data. Purely theoretical contributions are also welcome. The analyses may consider any kind of proper names, and although the journal focuses on Nordic perspectives, articles of Scandinavian or international interest from all over the world are welcome. The journal has an international and multidisciplinary advisory board, with members from different disciplines and different parts of the world.

Articles can be written in English or any of the Scandinavian Languages (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish). All articles are published with an English abstract. If you are interested in submitting, please note the instructions on the journal website.

Emilia Aldrin

The future of the Nordic socio-onomastic network

by Terhi Ainiala, Emilia Aldrin & Birgit Eggert

The NOS-HS workshop-project New Trends in Nordic Socio-onomastics has been completed with really good results, and is now continuing as a network for Nordic scientists working with socio-onomastics.

One of the project results is this website, that will be the center of the network from now on. The network members will regularly publish blog posts with news about research, events and publications with socio-onomastic content. The entries will be written in the Nordic languages ​​or English. The web-blog will be the most dynamic feature on the site, but new information about research ideas and network participants will be added when relevant.

The research project ideas identified through the workshop-project live on in smaller sub-networks. Each of these sub-networks will explore the best ways to bring each idea in to life as concrete research projects, and – possibly – also work with a variation of smaller outcome with different angles on the subjects. The project ideas will be developed over time depending on the concrete resources available.

At the same time, we will try to apply for funding for another NOS-HS workshop series to be able to concretize and sharpen those of the project topics that are best suited for large projects with collaboration between several researchers from different countries. The aim of this will be a concentrated preparation of specific research applications that are strong enough for international competition.

The upcoming Nordic Journal of Socio-Onomastics / Nordisk Tidskrift för socio-onomastik will soon be presented in more detail here on the blog. It will be a significant publishing channel for future socio-onomastic research both in the Nordic region and in a wider international context.

Our network will present its results and future ideas at the next international onomastic congress in Krákow in August 2020 (ICOS 2020). We encourage all interested in socio-onomastics to contact us there.

We look forward to be acquainted with the many new socio-onomastic initiatives that we hope and expect the future will bring.

Helsinki and its Names

– an Evening of Presentations and Discussion

by Ossian Hartig

On the evening of the 28th of November our group of three onomasticians: Terhi Ainiala, Väinö Syrjälä and I held presentations at Tieteiden talo (The House of Science and Letters) in Helsinki, hosted by Kotikielen seura – The Society for the Study of Finnish. The heading title of the evening was Kaupunkinimien kerrostumia: sosio-onomastisia näkökulmia Helsingin paikannimistöön (Layers in the Namescape of Cities: Socio-onomastic Viewpoints on the Place Names of Helsinki). The event collected an abnormally large crowd of listeners.

Terhi opened up the evening by telling the audience about the corpus’ onomastical approach to the variation of the two slang names for Helsinki: Hesa and Stadi. The corpus was collected from the popular Finnish discussion forum Suomi24.

In his presentation Väinö told about the linguistic landscape of Helsinki from the turn of the last century, especially of multilinguality in commercial names. Väinö used old photos to show, how Russian, Swedish and Finnish were used on for example the storefronts of shops in the city and how the usage of different languages changed when years went by. Väinö also discussed what kinds of difficulties a researcher has to face when researching the linguistic landscape from such a long time ago.

In my presentation I presented my initial findings about his research into the place names of the military island Santahamina, located in South-Eastern Helsinki.

The presentation covered two major themes: the official street names of Santahamina and the slang varieties for the island’s name.

Finnish conscripts taking part in the fighters’ examination, on a break in the forest area next to the road Eteläkärjentie/Söderuddsvägen of Santahamina. The roads literal translation “Southern Tip’s Road” is due to it leading to the southernmost part of the island. The fighter’s examination is mandatory test that must be passed to progress in the training.
FOTO: Ossian Hartig.

Santahamina received its very first official street names and signs in 2011 after more than a decade of using tsar-era (pre 1917) signage that consisted of letter-number-combinations. The official naming was presented with to tracks that contributed to the process reaching its conclusion in 2011. Firstly, the official documents from Finnish Army Archives that laid out the official reasoning for replacing the old naming system. Secondly there were the discussions held with local, long-time residents of the island who for a long time had pushed both the military and the city to recognize the unofficial oral place name tradition the island’s residents had used for decades.

A clipping from an Army document from 2012 showing the old sector and building numbers (Vanha numero) – the letter describes the sector; the number is the building. In the other columns one can see the (new) street name (Kadunnimi), the street number (Katunumero) and the street name in Swedish (Kadunnimi ruotsiksi).

In the second part of my presentation I discussed the variation of the different slang varieties of the name of the island, in particular the two rather similar Santis and Sandis. The latter, formed from the Swedish-language name Sandhamn, is mostly used by more mature language users and professional soldiers. Santis on the other hand is formed from the Finnish name. The surveyed conscripts (mostly 20-year olds) had never heard of the variant Sandis. The older segment was aware of the name Santis, but regarded it as the inferior or outright wrong name for Santahamina.

All the presentations inspired vivid conversation and questions from the crowd.

Namnforskardagarna i Helsingfors 31/10-1/11 2019

Johanna Virkkula & Terhi Ainiala

I månadsskiftet oktober-november ordnades namnforskardagarna vid Helsingfors universitet. Redan för tjugoandra gången samlades namnforskare från hela Finland (denna gång med kära gäster från Estland) för att få en uppdatering i vad som just nu händer inom onomastiken.

I programmet hade vi sjutton vetenskapliga föredrag, med flera doktorander och nyblivna magistrar som presenterade sina ämnen. Ett flertal socioonomastiska föredrag presenterades under dagarna. Speciellt intressant var Emmi Sulanders presentation om inofficiella ortnamn på svenska i Helsingfors (på basis av hennes pro gradu -avhandling, alltså slutarbete för magistersgraden). Terhi Ainialas och Paula Sjöbloms fallstudie om snuskiga ortnamn i marknadsföringen av ett visst turistmål i Finland väckte också livlig diskussion.

Terhi Ainiala & Paula Sjöblom. Foto: Lasse Hämäläinen

Som gästtalare hade vi prof. Hartmut Lenk, som talade om hur personnamn används i texter och hur dessa användningssätt är olika då förhållandet till den aktuella personen är olik.

Hartmut Lenk. Foto: Johanna Virkkula

Dessa plock ur programmet får representera våra namnforskardagar. Det bästa med namnforskardagarna är att man en gång om året kan uppdatera sig på vad som är nytt både inom undervisningen av namnforskning och forskning; de flesta år har vi ett deltagarantal över femtio, då även huvudstadsregionens namnplanerare och namn- och språkvårdare från Institutet för de inhemska språken gärna deltar.

Hela programmet för namnforskardagarna 2019 finns här: – och denna adress blir inför namnforskardagarna 2020 uppdaterad med det aktuella programmet.