On 24 January Mariko Faster will defend her doctoral thesis „The hydronyms of Hargla parish in the Estonian-Latvian border”.
Professor Karl Pajusalu, University of Tartu
Professor Janne Saarikivi, University of Helsinki
Dr Lembit Vaba
Dr Santeri Junttila, University of Helsinki, University of Greifswald
This dissertation addresses the meaning and origin of hydronyms of Hargla parish. In Hargla parish, Latvian influence occurs in language and in the folk culture to a great extent as it is an Estonian-Latvian border area. On the level on names, Latvian influence is particularly evident in surnames and, through them, also in place names. Such names manifest interaction between people. Direct Latvian influence is not evident in larger water bodies in Hargla. However, in Latvian area, Finnic substrate names have been traced already earlier; this demonstrates that Finnic people (Livonians, Leivus) have inhabited these areas before the latvification of the population due to the combination of immigration and language exchange. For example, the possible origin of the name of one region – Ümera – that had mixed settlement already in the 13th century has been treated.
Permanent inhabitants probably lived in the modern Estonian-Latvian border area also before the Finnic people, and they may have had Indo-European origin. For instance, the river name Koiva could have first emerged in an unknown Indo-European language, then lent to the Balto-Slavic Proto-language and from there, in turn, to Proto-Finnic. Place names can migrate from one language to another, adapt to the phonemic system of another language and remain as such for centuries. The multilingualism of the area is also demonstrated by the name Valga which is probably of Slavic origin. Name strata of various ages characterise the list of place names of every country. The hydronyms of Hargla parish may to a large extent be explained on the basis of (South) Estonian language. However, the origin and meaning of approximately 12-18% of the names will remain unexplained which is natural.
A part of special features of the local language and a part of the regional vocabulary become evident also in the place names. Place names often retain such words that have disappeared from the everyday vocabulary. This research also focuses on the meaning, spread and other special features of the generic words of the place names of the region.
In addition, the question of which name types in general could be categorised under hydronyms is discussed. Elsewhere in Europe, helonyms have also been included in hydronyms, but in Estonian context, these should be excluded from hydronyms.
This research offers an insight in the hydronyms of a region in South Estonia in particular, but more generally, also in the issues on hydronyms in all South Estonia and the meanings and changes related to them.