Advancing Onomastic Research

PhD School at the Faculty of Humanities at University of Copenhagen  Advancing Onomastic Research held its inaugural PhD School at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Copenhagen (2nd-6th June 2014). The aim of the course was to provide “a new, international network between onomastic PhD-students”.  Theoretical as well as practical aspects of onomastics were covered by the course lecturers Prof. Carole Hough, University of Glasgow; Prof. Thomas Clancy, University of Glasgow; Prof. Simon Taylor, University of Glasgow and Assoc. Prof. Peder Gammeltoft, University of Copenhagen. The course usefully coincided with the Cognitive Toponymy Symposium One: The Geographical and Mental Compass. Day one focussed on the theme of Presenting Onomastic Research. Carole Hough discussed the many facets of Onomastic research before each PhD student introduced their topic and research to date.  Thirteen students participated from Denmark, Finland, Estonia and the United Kingdom. This aspect of the programme inspired plenty of discussions and interaction, particularly among the field-name and minor name researchers. The use of onomastic labels (for example specific and generic) emerged as a major concern in this research area and the students debated whether the traditional onomastic labels can be applied to minor names in the same way as they can be applied to major names. This resulted in an excellent opportunity to discuss some of the challenges faced by students working with place-name data and to explore emerging ideas as a group. The day came to a close with a session on effective presentations led by Simon Taylor and Peder Gammeltoft, although debates over terminology are still on-going!


The discussions continue…

 Onomastic Theory and Methodology was the order of day two. The programme  was diverse and covered the topics of Hagiotoponymy (Thomas Clancy), Names  and Grammar (Carole Hough), Names and Semantics (Peder Gammeltoft),  Surveys and Sources (Simon Taylor), Toponymics in a multilingual setting –  problems and possibilities (Simon Taylor) and Onomastics in a monolingual   setting- interesting at all? (Berit Sandnes). Each session was interactive with lots   of input and examples provided by the students.


Mapping out some onomastic categories.

The Geographical and Mental Compass Symposium took place on Wednesday. The PhD students were joined by other researchers for a day of fascinating dialogue about cardinal compass points, river compasses and of course the mental compass through the ages. For the full programme click here. On the penultimate day the focus moved to Online applications in Onomastic Research. Bo Nissen Knudsen from the University of Copenhagen, Department of Name Research joined the group to introduce some of the Danish resources. This was followed up with an envy inspiring trip to the Name Research Section where students saw the fantastic resources available in the department and clustered excitedly around historical maps and documents.


Exploring the Name Research Section 1

The practical GIS and online mapping session in the afternoon also proved invaluable. The day proved to be so useful that a consensus was reached to plan another session in the coming months. The final day extended the focus from current research to the future of Onomastics with sessions on planning funding applications and ideas for future projects. Overall, the week proved to be a huge success. This first PhD training course in Onomastics allowed students from all over the world to come together to network and discuss ideas. The practical workshops stopped a few thesis headaches in their tracks and fantastic ideas for future projects developed. But you don’t just have to take my word for it. This is what some of the other attendees had to say: “The course was a great mix of practical workshops, engaging discussions, and expert advice, as well as giving us the chance to meet students from several other countries. This made for a terrific week, with plenty of chances to pool our knowledge, find common ground with other students, and picture future projects. We all came away very much satisfied with the course, and looking forward to next year’s!” Alice Crook, University of Glasgow   “all those who turned up to the course will really benefit from the great teaching and fascinating content of the course. The atmosphere was friendly and constructive. A great week.” Emily Pennifold, University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies   “It was a good week with a great group of people” Graham Collins, University of Nottingham

Post by Alison Burns

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