The Wendish Research Exchange

Kśižank, Kito: Three Kinds of Place Names. Sorbian, German and Polish Toponymy in Eastern Lusatia and their Mutual Infl

mersiowsky - 12-3-2019 at 08:30 PM

Lětopis Abstract 2019 2: Kito Kśižank: Three Kinds of Place Names. Sorbian, German and Polish Toponymy in Eastern Lusatia and their Mutual Influence.

Multiple names can be seen as the norm rather than as an exception in the context of post-national conceptions of history. It can hardly be seen as a peculiarity that when two different distinctive languages are in contact with each other, the relevant systems for devising an appropriate name influence each other. It is less common, at least in Central Europe, that such contacts involve three languages, especially when these influences are not only one-sided, but also mutual.

This is the case in the eastern regions of Lower and Upper Lusatia, where, as in other areas where Germans and Slavs come into contact with each other, numerous Slavonic geographical names have been adopted in German linguistic usage. Here, on the eastern periphery of the Sorbian language area, the opposite case, the borrowing of German name formations by Sorbian, can be easily observed, to a certain degree. Added to this, the collection of Sorbian names in the 19th Century, coinciding with the Sorbian cultural renaissance, had the aim of providing quasi-official name formations for Sorbian linguistic practice. It was inevitable that on the periphery of the Sorbian language area at that time this process led to reconstructions, which can be described as conversions of German place names into a Sorbian form. When these areas to the east of the River Neisse were transferred to Poland after 1945 the process of converting these place names into Polish began. Although this process was completed quickly, the creation of new names was not done in an arbitrary fashion. There was rather extensive recourse to older traditions, in particular to the store of Sorbian names. The three toponymies of the region are therefore linked to each other through a wide spectrum of processes. This is described in detail in the article; all the place names of the eastern region are subdivided and then statistically evaluated. The main focus lies on the modern processes of Sorbianization and Polonization, which have until now been given little attention.