IX Международная студенческая научная конференция Студенческий научный форум - 2017


Жасарова Д.Г. 1, Бекентаева А.Б. 1
1ЕНУ им.Л.Н.Гумилева
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Onomastics, the study of names, which includes ethnonymy, the study of ethnic names, toponymy, the study of place-names, and also anthroponomy, the study of names of persons, plays a considerable role in the elucidation of the historical process[9]. As a discipline, it is a branch of history. It provides raw material for linguists, geographers and specialists studying the development of cultures and civilizations and inter-cultural contacts. But onomastics itself has to do with the wider problem of conceptualization[2]. If we use the various glossaries available, we can reconstruct the past and understand the present of civilizations by considering the concepts on which they are founded—their way of viewing real persons and objects or abstract ideas—and the vocabulary they use to represent their experience. Aim of this articleis an elaboration of a comprehensive and integrated study of the state and development trends of the ethnonyms in the toponymy of the English language.To achieve this goal the following objectives have been developed:

  1. To determine the nature of toponymy of the English language. Specify the “ethno-toponymy” term;

  2. To justify the definitions of ethnonymy and toponymy considering their experience-based nature as well as historical and cultural significance and importance ;

  3. To highlight the ethnic nicknames as a separate group and analyze their function in the lexical importance in English language;

  4. To investigate the influence of political correctness on the principle of development ethnonymy.

The ethnonyms in the place-names of England and their toponymical peculiarities; linguistic analysis of ethnonyms were considered as an main object of study. Subject of research – conceptual, historical, semantic, morphological and social aspects of ethnonyms in the place-names.Theoretical and methodological basis of the following article were the scientific works of foreign and local scholars devoted to the issues of onomastics and ethnonymic elements of the geographical location of people in England , also methods of comparative analysis, deduction, induction and application of statistics to comparison of collected data collected personally by the author during the research.

Theoretical basis of ethnonyms and toponymy of English language

Onomastics or onomatology is the field of linguistics, the study of proper names of all kinds and the origins of names. The words are from the Greek : "ὀνομαστικός" (onomastikos) “of or belonging to naming” and "ὀνοματολογία" (onomatologia) from "ὄνομα" (ónoma) "name". One of the branches of onomastics is toponymy(place names). Place names or proper names of seas, rivers, lakes, bogs, mountains, hills, woods, cities, settlements, streets and other geographical objects are studied by toponymy[2]. Onomastics includes ethnonymy, the study of ethnic names, toponymy, the study of place-names, and also anthroponymy, the study of names of persons, and plays a considerable role in the elucidation of the historical process. As a discipline, it is a branch of history. It provides raw material for linguists, geographers and specialists studying the development of cultures and civilizations and inter-cultural contacts. But onomastics itself has to do with the wider problem of conceptualization[7]. If we use the various glossaries available, we can reconstruct the past and understand the present of civilizations by considering the concepts on which they are founded—their way of viewing real persons and objects or abstract ideas—and the vocabulary they use to represent their experience.

Toponymy is the scientific study of place names (toponyms), their meaning, structure, origin, use and typology. The word "toponymy" is derived from the Greek words tópos (τόπος) ("place") and ónoma (ὄνομα) ("name")[9]. Toponym is a name of a locality, region, or some other part of Earth's surface, including natural features and artificial ones. Its purpose - all-round studying of place names. The long-interest attracted by toponyms can be explained not only by their unusual functions, mysterious origin of most of them, distinctions of their grammatical features from the other word class, i.e. appellatives, but, also by the fact that they are rich in information needed to solve ethnogenetic problems. Place-names as well as other manifestations of the people's spiritual culture, i.e. folklore, rites, believes etc. reflect peculiar national features, history and mentality. Each toponym consists of different information – historical, geographical, linguistical.State language of Great Britain is English, but place names of this country are partially English. Influence on formation of English place names was rendered by historical conquests. Therefore among toponyms of Great Britain it is possible to mark out such elements as Celtic, Latin, Scandinavian, Norman.The 'underlay' of British place names is thus Celtic in origin, and more specifically Brythonic ('British'), to distinguish it from the closely related Gaelic languages of Ireland[1]. The oldest place names in England appear to be the names of rivers, many of which can easily be interpreted as Brythonic in origin, e.g. Exe/Axe/Usk, Derwen[6]t. In the areas of Great Britain in which Brythonic languages were not replaced until relatively late on (Cumbria, Cornwall), or have not been replaced (Wales), most place names are still essentially Brythonic in origin

Reflected in the history of English place-­names is the history of England. The waves of conquest and settlement were accompanied by new languages, each of which left their mark on English place-­names. In the names themselves, however, one has the opportunity to glimpse the world through medieval man's eyes. There are the broad brush­strokes of the landscape ­ hills, valleys, forests and bodies of water in all their variety[2][5].

Names of ethnicities and ethnonyms play a crucial role in formation of place-names. According to historical facts and research the vast majority of English toponyms were created from ethnonyms. Following examples are an important source of information to learn the map and geography and history of English onomastics.

Some examples of ethnonyms in place-names of England

Here are several ethnonyms with historical background and a current role in English toponymy and geography.

Britons: ethnonyms derived from British plural *Pretani


The southern plural variant of the emic ethnonym for the indwellers of Britain, British*Pretani, was accepted into Latin as Britani, then readopted into British for Romanised Britons. This evolution produced both the ethnonym British[1].Brïttoand the toponym Britain. The plural of the new ethnonym, Brïtton, itselfhereafterremoved the old singular, and went on to develop into Brïθon


Though it is admitted that Bretr-names in England are focused in the north, and in particular the north-west, where Scandinavian settlement was important. The Bretr-names in Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire have been considered as probablyimplying to residual Cumbrian establishment.


Britt, and the adjectival form Bretnach which finallymodified it, are coming from the Proto-Celtic country-name given by Aandewiel and Koch as*Brittā.

Gall-BrittRegarded as an anthroponym, for the begetter of the Galbraiths, meaning 'alien Britt '.


Instead of being aexplicit elaboration of Breatan, the modern form Breatannachmay be a distinct development from the geographical name n.f. Breatainn'Britain'.Aftera pause following the extinction of the ethnicity, ScGBreatannachmay have came outaccording to the lexical requirements of politics[1][3]. A peculiarity, though possibly under the effect of this lexical development, is as an anthroponym. The surname is found *breatan, indicating to the low, narrow ridge here; Breatannachappears in two names where, if not the ethnonym, it may be a kin label or areference to the clan chief[7].


Another versions are Britt and Brytt. This is not a common ethnonym in place-names in England. Ekwall suggests that OEbrēcmay be the specific in northern English Bretton-names, theequivalent of Bratton-names further south[8].


Standard English has arranged on British as the common adjective, but Britonappears in a historical facts[6] . Three Briton-names have been found, with two of the settlements known to have been connected with assumed archaeological features. The earliest recording is 1755, which may show a name coined with Briton, applied in the same faeture.


Cruithen was borrowed, through its plural, from the northern British plural*Priteni, and applied originally to the aboriginal people of Britain both north and south of the Roman frontier. Two related forms of the ethnonym appear as genitive plurals by the middle of the twelfth century, viz Cru(i)thenandCruithnech, the latter also recorded as the pluralCruithnig.


The only ethnonym form to persist into the recorded Scots Gaelic period is *Cruithnech. It is generally used in the modern language to unite with Pict.There is no evidence of the ethnonym having being used toponymically other than in the genitive plural[3][6].With intransitive application, accumulation of mist or low cloud might explain both the noun and the toponyms.

Cumbrians: ethnonyms derived from British plural *Combrogī


British plural Brïtton (singular *Brïtto)[9]was longer in north Britain than in the south, but the Britons of Cumbriacame to adopt the plural*Cumbri. It is supposed *Cumber loan-word derived from British plural *Combrogī, might be used as a higher status term than the etic Walh.It is regarded to be present in the Old English name forCumbria, Cumbra land(Cumberland ) adopted by 945; Hicks argues that thischange of nomenclature was necessary once the geographically specific name "Strathclyde" had ceased to equate with the expanding British territory of the tenth century[1][4]. Drawing on cognitive linguistics, Hough challenges the assumption that reference in place-names is always to a distinctive feature, that the ethnicity must be distinctive and notable in the local context[11]. Hough postulates that some settlements gained an ethnonymic name through renaming by the inhabitants as an affirmation of identity in the language of a neighboring majority community[8]. Hough argues that a minority-language community would have a level of bilingualism and a requirement to communicate an affirmation of ownership to the majority society, and suggests the possibility of the emic ethnonym being purposefully hybridised withland and dalr by Cumbric speakers to coin Cumberland and Cummersdale[1][11]

Picts: ethnonyms derived from plural Picti


The Latin ethnonym is first appeared as the Latin nominative plural Picti in 297, with a rare occurrence the following century of a possible variant, Latin plural Pecti.This variant, followed by the Old English and Old Norse forms may also be present in the name Pexa. To be correct, this is the only Pict-name recording coexisting with the Picts as aapparent ethnicity[3]. It is not known what the Picts called themselves. But Nicolaisen sees the ethnonyms *Pictus, Pettr and Peht as each obtaining direct from a probable emic name.

In addition to Pictavia Latin *Pictus appears in the name Rune Pictorum, recorded in 1221[11].


A number of toponyms have been discovered as containing the element, though only Pettland, 'land associated with the Picts', seems to be extant with the ethnicity. Certainly, the ethnonym appears to have developed from short-vowelledPeht, and the male given name Pétr, originally Pet(t)arr, likelyexperienced a vowel lengthening[1][8]. Excluded from the background information are place-names with the letter string pet, with a working assumption that this statesn.f. pett '(land-)holding'. Exceptions to this are those names in a Norse linguistic context, which may represent the ethnonym Pettr.


Pict is a break in the linguistic tradition represented by Pecht, and borrows directly from the Latin plural Picti, presumably as a result of learned antiquarianism. This is the ethnonym that is to be found in the majority of Pict-names. Plural *Picardy is similarly antiquarian, but draws on late n.m. Picardach for its inspiration[6]. Though only attested in Irish texts, Picardach refers to Picts in northern Britain.Itis unlikely to predate the thirteenth century, and may have beenfancifully based on Latin Picardi 'men of (the historical French province of) Picardy' .*Picardy is to be found in Picardy Heugh and Picardy Stone[3][10].

Gaels: ethnonyms derived from plural Goídil


Goídel was adopted to fill a gap in the ethnicity's own classification once a collective definition for the ethnicity was required to comprise Gaelic establishments beyond Ireland. The timing and mechanism for the arrival of the Gaels in the different parts of the study area are still matters of historical debate, even the fact that the language coming to be dominant with a political and social issue towards the end of the Early Gaelic period and increasing geographically in some areas after the alter to Scots Gaelic[3][11].

GàidhealGàidheal is a regular advance of Goídel[9], with a fronting of the vowel of the first syllable.The instances of the ethnonym that have been distinguished withconfidence fall into two main groups, divided both by naming implementation and by temporal division. The evidence suggests that the smaller of these groups was coined before mono-lingualism ceased to be the norm among the general Gaelic-speaking population in the areas referred to by the names themselves. These imply to Gaelic politiesdisplaying cultural traits with Scandinavian origins[7].


According to the analysis the scientific importance of this articlelies in the fact historic and axiological aspects of ethnonyms have been investigated; including their semantic features; they are systematized and introduced as a classification and the novelty of data of the research is proved by the analysis of literature works and research of literature, gaining the information about old facts.The theoretical significance of the given articleis that it carried out the systematization of currently available concepts of ethnonym and its place in language paradigms. In addition, this study provides a detailed analysis of a comprehensive English ethnonymy and copyrights of ethnonyms classification based on different criteria: derivational model, content, the model of nomination. In the study of English in the work ethnonymy used data of a number of non-linguistic disciplines such as ethnology, geography, history, sociology and the theory of intercultural communication. Also the findings of the study provide important implications for use the results in the development of reading and lecture courses on lexicology and stylistics of the English language.


  1. Addison, William, 1978, Understanding English Place-names (London).

  2. Belousova, K.M. From ethnonymic nominations to the typology of applied lexicology

  3. Coates, Richard, and Breeze, Andrew with Horovitz, David, 2000, Celtic Voices EnglishPlaces: studies of the Celtic impact on place-names in England

  4. Galbraith, Paul, 1996, 'Place Names in the Rough Bounds'

  5. http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/100177

  6. Levison, Wilhelm, 1946, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century

  7. Mladenova, O.M. 2008, Ethnonyms and national consciousness, onomastics issue №5. p65–89.

  8. Nicolaisen, William F.H., and Gelling, Margaret, and Richards, Melville, 1970, The Namesof Towns and Cities in Britain (London).

  9. OED: Oxford English Dictionary, 1928–, at , Oxford University Press.

  10. Smith, Anthony D., 1986, The Ethnic Origins of Nations

  11. Watson, William John, 1930, Some Place-names of the North, 2nd ed

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