place naming/memes?/metaphor

Jessica Maloney (23jess@UCLINK.BERKELEY.EDU)
Tue, 22 Feb 1994 19:34:24 -0800


1st of all, thanks to all who responded re: Wagner. My reading plate is
even fuller now. Enriched.

2nd, I have narrowed my scope for the paper I must write for Brent Berlin
(was going to be spells and metaphors, that's how Wagner came in); in an
earlier paper on local scientific lore and political organization for
conservation in the Solomons I caught a glimpse of another nice way the
people there have of organizing their reality, that of oral history being
"recorded" in the geography, place names being descriptive of mythical or
recent historical events- sort of a mnemonic crutch.
I was unable to get to any local respondents, and didn't find anything in
the literature about this phenomenon. Have any anthros that have been
there recorded local place names? And why they are named what they are? Or
did they care where they really were?

So- I am looking for any studies/theories of place naming. Any and all
would be cool, I could do a comparative study. Of non-writing societies
would be most desirable. Pacific, Southeast Asian, European, Mayan, if any
research has been done on place naming, maybe in the context of orality or
oral history, references would be very very helpful.
Or if you know anyone from the Solomons or PNG or thereabouts who wouldn't
mind telling me about the names of places where they come from...

Stream of consciousness essays on the memetics of place naming are also welcome!

Tanks in advance,