The authors wish to thank Samuel Gorovitz, Jaklin Kornfilt, two anonymous reviewers, and Craig Colten for their helpful criticisms and suggestions.
WHAT'S IN A NAME? LINGUISTICS, GEOGRAPHY, AND TOPONYMS†
Article first published online: 29 JUN 2010
© 2010 by the American Geographical Society of New York
Volume 100, Issue 3, pages 394–412, July 2010
How to Cite
RADDING, L. and WESTERN, J. (2010), WHAT'S IN A NAME? LINGUISTICS, GEOGRAPHY, AND TOPONYMS. Geographical Review, 100: 394–412. doi: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2010.00043.x
- Issue published online: 29 JUN 2010
- Article first published online: 29 JUN 2010
- New Orleans;
In differing ways, linguistics and geography each observes that a name's significance is connected to a society. According to lexical theory, a word is arbitrary: Its sound and meaning have no intrinsic link; its function is grammatical. Names are, however, special words. We bestow names based on how they sound or on what they may already have come to represent; names are not arbitrary. In turn, toponyms are special names, and as example we discuss a specific one, “New Orleans.” Far from an arbitrary pairing of form and meaning, this toponym reveals that names reflect the experience of the people who use them.