The role of place names in geographical education in Southern Africa

Room D
Monday, 31 August 2015
13.00 – 14.45
indigenous languages, linguistic landscape, linguisticteraction, place names

Geographical names constitute a significant component of geographical education, facilitating communication and uniquely identifying geographical features, containing elements of identity, culture, social and other realities, and reflecting interaction between the geographical environment and its inhabitants. The presence of different ethnic and linguistic communities in Southern Africa has resulted in place names from different languages, the occurrence of more than one name for the same feature, the same name applied to different features, and names conflict that necessitates standardization at national and international level. Southern African place names derive from a vast array of Bushman, Khoikhoi, Bantu and European languages. These names reflect the history and cultural stratification of the various peoples, the interaction between their languages and cultures, and preserve toponymic elements as fossilized remnants of ancient and extinct languages and cultures. This paper investigates the interaction between humans and their environment as reflected in place names, including the diachronic evolution from Stone Age Bushman toponyms to modern illocutionary onymic formation. The relevance of the inclusion of Southern African toponyms in geographical education within the context of the EU is in accordance with United Nations recommendations on the standardization of geographical names, as well as with pragmatic considerations of the universality of toponymic usage.

Peter Edmund Raper
University of the Free State
South Africa
Raperpe2 [at]

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