2018, Volume 15, Issue 2

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Tatyana A. Agapkina*
Elena L. Berezovich**
Olesya D. Surikova**

*Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Moscow, Russia
**Ural Federal University
Ekaterinburg, Russia

Toponyms in the Charms of the Russian North. II: Lands. Mountains. Islands. Cities

Voprosy onomastiki, 2018, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp. 28–69 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2018.15.2.014

Received 10 January 2018

Abstract: The paper continues a series of publications studying the origins and usage of toponyms in oral and manuscript texts of charms attested in the Russian North: in the Arkhangelsk, Vologda, Olonets, and Kostroma regions. In this part, the authors focus on the names of “lands,” i.e. mountains, islands, and cities, subjecting them to an in-depth analysis. The parameters include 1) variations of a particular place name in the charms of the Russian North; 2) the number of folklore texts it occurs in; 3) the relation of the toponym to other geographical names within the text; 4) isofunctional toponyms; 5) folklore motifs associated with the geographical object and its name; 6) whether the name appears in other genres of folklore; 7) correlations with the real toponymy of the Russian North; 8) possible etymologies of the name. The smallest group comprises the names of “lands” implying the semantic opposition of “friend / foe”. The largest group includes the names of mountains — either place names that refer to “all-Russian” toponymic objects (like Folyn-Gora) and often allude to biblical prototypes (Tabor, Sinai, etc.), or local mountains (like Sogozh-Gora) that take after some more general folkloric tradition (the Sorochinsky Mountains), or else occasional place names that do not have a real / textual prototype (like gory-Hry). Among the names of islands (which are half as many as the mountains), the variations of the folkloric proto-name of Buyan Island prevail. It is of note that the names of the islands and mountains mentioned in charms are barely reflective of the real topography of the Russian North (where islands abound). The names of cities, as such, are found mainly in handwritten prayers and charms (and far less frequently occur in oral Northern Russian charms), with nearly all of them referring to biblical history. Incidentally, the only name that points to a real city is Jerusalem.

Keywords: toponymy, names of mountains, names of islands, names of cities, the language of Russian folklore, charm, Russian North, semantic-motivational reconstruction


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