Thursday, June 4, 2009

Toponymy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Toponymy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Toponymy is the scientific study of place-names (toponyms), their origins, meanings, use and typology. The first part of the word is derived from the Greek tópos (τόπος), place; followed by ónoma (ὄνομα), meaning name. It is itself a branch of onomastics, the study of names of all kinds. To understand the value of toponyms, visualize each toponym (or geographical name) as the title of a story revealing some aspect of a region's cultural or natural heritage.

Toponyms are not just words on maps and signs, but vital communication tools that reflect patterns of settlement, exploration, migration, and heritage that may otherwise be overlooked by residents, visitors, and future generations. A toponym is a named point of reference in both the physical and cultural landscape on the Earth's surface. This includes natural features, such as streams (whose names are studied as hydronyms) and artificial ones (such as cities). Natural features are no more geographical than man-made features or administrative units because all such features have names that are in essence artificially applied. Toponyms are typically conservative and give insight into the buried human history of a region. For example Moses I. Finley observed, "it is significant that the bulk of the towns and districts in Greece in historical times retained their pre-Greek names";[1] viewed with archaeological remains, the conclusion is that speakers of proto-Greek infiltrated the region by degrees, rather than in a massive invasion, and that they found already in place a comparatively highly-developed culture.

In ethnology, a toponym is a name derived from a place or a region. In anatomy, a toponym is a name of a region of the body, as distinguished from the name of an organ. In biology, a toponym is a binomial name of a plant.

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