2020 autumn half-day conference (online)  —  Saturday October 17

1000 – 1110 Session 1 – Personal names

Keith Briggs The first girls in England

The words ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ are both of very obscure etymology. Both are attested as personal names before lexical use starts to be recorded about 1300, but whether the anthroponymic evidence is of any value for the history of the words is controversial. This paper points out that ‘girl’ occurs as a byname throughout the thirteenth century, but only in East Anglia. This allows speculation that the word originated in the east, possibly as a borrowing from a continental language heard in the coastal ports. The talk is based on a paper available here. The slides used in the talk are here. A follow-up paper is here.

Clare Green (SOAS, University of London) Naming Welsh-speaking children: case studies from London and Gwynedd

Many factors go into choosing children's names, and for multilingual families there are extra issues to consider. Should the name represent all the family’s languages? How much should it take into account the linguistic environment the family lives in? Does the chosen name predict the language(s) a child will speak as they grow up? This paper looks at two families with a first-language Welsh-speaking parent, living in very different linguistic landscapes: one in London and one in Gwynedd, North Wales. Based on qualitative interviews with parents, it explores how they chose their children's names, the influence of their Welsh-speaking heritage, and how the decisions reflect their linguistic attitudes and practices. This research uses names as a medium to learn about personal experiences of multilingualism and family language policy. This paper is based on research for a Masters dissertation in Language Documentation and Description. The slides used in the talk are here.

1125 – 1300 Session 2 – Place-names

Paul Tempan (Belfast) Names in the Irish built environment transferred due to a common function

Several notable buildings and public spaces in Dublin have been transferred from London (e.g. Bridewell, Smithfield) or from Italy (e.g. Rialto, Casino). What connects these names is neither their literal meaning nor their linguistic origin, but rather their transfer from an original site (epotoponym) to other sites sharing a similar function, status or association. The process went further in the case of Bridewell, which became a common noun denoting a place of detention (deonymisation). It will be argued that some examples cannot be adequately described merely as transferred names or commemorative names and that they are best treated as a distinct category or sub-category of place-names. This paper builds on one presented in 2010 which took an inter-disciplinary approach (summarised in this article), but it also aims to address some matters of specific onomastic interest concerning name theory, terminology and translation. The slides used in the talk are here.

Kathryn Bullen (University of Nottingham) Axholme – place-names in the marsh

In this talk I will take you on a journey into the bogs and moors of the Isle of Axholme, situated in north Lincolnshire. The presentation will give an overview of my current PhD research, which aims to assess the impact of language, history, and landscape on place-names on the Isle of Axholme. I will explore the background to the project, demonstrate some of the evidence I have collected so far, and ask how what we know of the past can help manage future challenges. The slides used in the talk are here.

Thomas Clancy (University of Glasgow) Iona's Namescape: place-names and their dynamics in Iona and its environs (report on a new project)

This talk will introduce a new AHRC-funded project at the University of Glasgow. On one level, Iona's Namescape is designed to provide a full survey of the place-names of Iona and Staffa. In itself this is more complex than might appear at first, since Iona's place-names have a deep and complicated tradition, not only involving records from the 7th century, but also multiple travellers’ accounts, some of which may well have coined as well as preserved names. The project will also take in the names of monuments, and the relationship with the neighbouring island of Mull. A key interest of the project is in the overlapping communities who have lived in and used the island, with their dynamic of place-names interacting with text and tradition. The project will be working with heritage bodies on how place-names might be treated as human artefacts in need of curation, and on how to work through issues of authenticity and authority when it comes to a contested landscape of names.