Micro-toponyms – Perspectives on an underestimated source

Speaker: Dr. Christian Zschieschang, Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Department “Man and Environment

17 Oct 2019⎹  18.00⎹  DH Lab, MSH 1st floor


Micro-toponyms, names of unsettled places, are a rather unexplored field of investigation and due to their regional and local framing, they are often only considered in regional and folkloristic studies, being excluded from globally orientated scientific research. However, they are a multifaceted branch of onomastics with manifold methods and possibilities to investigate. The study of micro-toponymy, however, does not only focus on the names themselves, but on the human use and perspectives of space. Furthermore, minor place names mirror daily life – behavior, culture and societal patterns. Thus, they are an important and inspiring source of social and economic history in general.

Although, several aspects of classical and non-classical research in micro-toponymy will be introduced, the lecture will focus on one specific methodological approach – investigating the names within the systematic context of local sub-districts they ordered into. These smaller administrative units consist of the agricultural land of one rural settlement and host a special community using a specific set of spatial communicational devices. Its members are the inhabitants of the settlement, who use the land in their daily work and have to refer to it within their community. The names are part of a specific naming system, used to navigate and qualify space according to human perception.

Development of land parcels in Saxony-Anhalt (Germany)

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