Can Choosing the Form of a Name Be an Act of Identity?

  • Aud-Kirsti Pedersen University of Tromsø


This paper discusses if place names can be used to construct and express identity, with a focus on the Norwegian names of farms and parishes. Since the Norwegian Place Name Act came into existence in 1991, the many appeals in regard to official spellings as decided by the authorities give clear indication that Norwegians have different opinions of how the names of farms and parishes should be spelled compared to names referring to natural features. Many people prefer the spelling of names of natural features to be as close as possible to the dialectal pronunciation, whereas they prefer older, often ornamental spellings or spellings which differ from the pronunciation when it comes to the names of farms and parishes. This paper looks at the reasons for these attitudes towards the spelling of place names, and is highlighted by some theory pertaining to language and identity.