P51 The role of place names in geographical education

Apart from the trivial fact that without place names we would not be able to communicate our space-related knowledge verbally, place names offer a variety of opportunities for geographical education, but prompt also some important decisions. Among the opportunities are:
(1) Descriptive (e.g. Newport, Rocky Mountains) as well as commemorative (e.g. Bolivia, Ho-Chi-Minh City) place names give reason to speak about the characteristics of a place.
(2) Places names have usually a long tradition and reflect history and diachronic cultural stratification of a place. They are keys to cultural and settlement history.
(3) Since naming motives vary with cultural characteristics and economic orientations of human communities, place names are condensed narratives about human communities.
(4) Place names always belong to a certain language and give in this way reason to talk about the cultural and linguistic structure of a place, about minority situations etc.
(5) Place names are often in the focus of political conflict indicating at the symbolic level conflicts deeper rooted in society. They are starting points for the discussion of these roots.
(6) Place-names changes are driven by changes of political power or of political mainstream in a given society. They prompt the discussion of these political changes.
Important decisions to be taken, when it comes to use place names in education, are a. o. the choice between endonyms (= names used by the local community) and exonyms (= names used from the outside) as well as between transliteration and transcription systems in converting names from other scripts.

Peter Jordan
Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Urban and Regional Research
peter.jordan [at]
Cosimo Palagiano
Sapienza Università di Roma
cosimo.palagiano [at]
Beáta Király
Eötvös Loránd University
tengerszem90 [at]
Gergő Kollár

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