Place Names As Ingredients of Space-Related Identity


  • Peter Jordan Austrian Academy of Sciences



The article1 highlights the role of place names in space-related identity building from a cultural-geographical perspective. Starting from the various relations between the culture of a social group and geographical space in general (culture makes use of natural resources; culture reflects itself in space, shapes space creating a cultural landscape; a cultural group receives a part of its identity through the cultural landscape) the paper investigates in which of these relations place names play a major role. It is found that place names have important functions in all three relations: in making use of natural resources when they reflect natural characteristics, in cultural transformation of the geographical space when they shape it both visually and mentally as well as in identity building with individual members of a cultural group and with a cultural group in total when place names function as labels and support emotional ties between man and place.