On 24 January Tiina Laansalu will defend her doctoral thesis „The development of place names in Central Harjumaa and name transfer”.
Professor Karl Pajusalu, University of Tartu
Dr Marja Kallasmaa, Institute of the Estonian Language
Professor Janne Saarikivi, University of Helsinki
Place names play a significant role in people’s interactions with each other and their comprehension of the world. Research material on place names helps to better understand our history and identify the regularities in the development and evolution of names, thereby providing a basis for making reasoned decisions regarding name planning.
This PhD thesis focuses on the place names in Central Harjumaa (Jüri and Kose parishes), and thereby, supplements the regional study of Estonian place names. The basic source material for the study comes from the Place Name Archive of the Institute of the Estonian Language.
The research is divided into two subjective sections. The first provides a survey of the development of the place names in Central Harjumaa based on traditional regional place name research, with the main emphasis on ancient settlement names. Evidently, many of Central Harjumaa place names have survived since the Middle Ages, and the probable basis for the ancient names are often personal names. The fact that various mechanisms of specific developments have been employed was confirmed, as was the fact that the developments of the place names form distinctive evolutionary chains. One part of the work, on the Kose parish place names, was published in The Dictionary of Estonian Place Names (2016, 2018).
The second half of the PhD thesis deals with a phenomenon of name creation – name transfer – which is being separately dealt with for the first time in Estonian onomastics. The study gives an overview of different approaches to name transfer, and explains which approach applies to the Estonian place name system. In the thesis, name transfer is dealt with in an innovative way, and the traditional concept of transferred names has been expanded. The sub-categories of transferred names have been classified, and the relationship between transferred names and annexes and metonymic names has also been explained. An answer was also sought to the question of what is characteristic of the transferred names included in the toponymy of Central Harjumaa.
The analysis revealed that of the transferred names identified in Central Harjumaa, the vast majority were comparative transferred names. Half of them have been named after famous or well-known places and the rest came from the Bible or were inspired by national romanticism. The analysis also showed that half of the commemorative names in Central Harjumaa were names of communal economic units (kolkhozes and state farms), which, for a certain period of time, comprised a very characteristic ideological group of names.
The researched place names of Central Harjumaa clearly showed how changing situations in various eras can change the name templates and toponymies, and lead in a direction off the beaten path.
Thanks to the results of the study, once again something more is known about Estonian place names. The directions of further investigations have also been pointed out. The results of the dissertation may also be helpful in naming planning issues.