Place Names as Identity Markers
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Place-names are first and foremost labels attached to one’s surroundings, as useful today as in prehistoric times. Since place-names have been coined as descriptions of the features in question, or of circumstances that influenced the naming process, they are vital for the knowledge of our past. They also make out a part of one’s identity both as linguistic expressions and as identifiers of the landscape. As such they convey particular values to those who are familiar with the names. The multiple quality of place-names also strengthens their role as part of the intangible cultural heritage. After having dealt with some aspects relating to terminology, function and meaning of names, especially place-names, the author discusses the role of place-names as identity markers both from an individual and social point of view. By means of some named landscape features from his childhood he argues that the names trigger the mental relationship between the name users and the named places. One main challenge will be to collect reliable data which may be done by use of questionnaires and sound recordings. Also systematic literature studies will no doubt contribute to a better understanding of the role of names as identity markers.