Institutional Scholarship

What’s in a Name: Toponyms as Linguistic Data for Historical Comparison

Show simple item record Peters, Elizabeth 2015-09-24T19:54:47Z 2015-09-24T19:54:47Z 2015
dc.description.abstract A full picture of the linguistic mechanics and social importance of a language can only be arrived at through study of both contemporary and historical states of that language. There are languages, however, for which data is limited. For languages with limited contemporary resources, toponymic data can comprise a large portion of the available information. Analysis of toponyms, however, requires some degree of loss of precision due to obscured phonology and morphology over time. Based largely on toponymic data, Kenneth Jackson (1955) argued for the P-Celtic ancestry of Pictish, and his theory became the prevailing one. Katharine Forsyth (1997) and Alfred P. Smyth (1984) critique his arguments on cultural-linguistic terms. In this paper, I assess the use of toponymic data for studying linguistic relatedness through the application of similar methods to a language with known familial classification. I use the comparative method to analyze the linguistic relatedness of Lenape and Passamaquoddy-Maliseet, Western Abenaki, and Cherokee. The Lenape data consists only of toponyms with attested Lenape heritage. Systematic sound correspondences are found between Lenape and each of the compared languages. Previous scholarship claims that Lenape is related to Passamaquoddy and to Western Abenaki, but not to Cherokee. The absence of this distinction in the analysis of Lenape toponymic data suggests that toponymic data does not provide enough or reliable enough information for historical comparison.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of Linguistics
dc.language.iso eng
dc.subject.lcsh Names, Geographical -- Delaware
dc.subject.lcsh Names, Geographical -- Passamaquoddy
dc.subject.lcsh Names, Geographical -- Abenaki
dc.subject.lcsh Names, Geographical -- Cherokee
dc.title What’s in a Name: Toponyms as Linguistic Data for Historical Comparison
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Open Access

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as



My Account