2018, Volume 15, Issue 2

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Igor A. Dambuev
Institute for Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies
of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Ulan-Ude, Russia

Revisiting the Standardization of the Use of the Letter ё in Russian Toponymy

Voprosy onomastiki, 2018, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp. 239–262 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2018.15.2.024

Received 15 January 2018

Abstract: The paper deals with the standardization of the use of the letter ё in the official toponymy of Russia. A long-term monitoring of the toponymic data presented in the State catalogue of geographical names revealed that the use/non-use of the letter ё is a typical case for orthographic variation. Presently, many hundreds of geographical names are unauthorized and require standardization because of the variation in spelling. In the author’s opinion, this kind of orthographic variation is due to Russian orthography reforms and inconsistent regulations on the named letter’s occurrence. The solution to this problem may thus relate to a more precise specification of contemporary usage of the letter ё in Russian toponymy, obtained through statistical analysis. For this purpose, the paper includes the outcomes of two experiments evaluating the frequency of its use in place names on the national and regional scale. The results suggest that while the tendency for non-use predominates numerically nation-wise, particularly in the names with the Russian origin, the said letter is still widely used in regional toponymy. The author identifies the areas with the highest degree of its use, supposedly affected by the peculiarities of the local toponymic system, particularly in terms of the wide use of the letter ё in non-Russian toponymy and the influence of local dialect features. The paper argues that a consecutive use of the letter ё whenever necessary may provide for the consistency of its use in geographical names, both in oral and written communication. However, this proves elusive at present because of the well-established practice for the selective use of the letter ё. The most efficient solution for standardizing geographical names with variable use of the letter ё is the standardization of the presently unauthorized titles, based on general rules for the use of the letter ё, along with the consideration of special aspects of regional toponymy.

Keywords: standardization of geographical names, official Russian toponymy, orthographic variation, State catalog of geographical names, use of the letter ё


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