2018, Volume 15, Issue 2

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Elena N. Klimenko*
Maria E. Ruth**

*Ural State Forest Engineering University
**Ural Federal University
Ekaterinburg, Russia

Unofficial Urbanonymy of Ekaterinburg: a Sociolinguistic Study

Voprosy onomastiki, 2018, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp. 210–222 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2018.15.2.022

Received 12 May 2018

Abstract: The article addresses the phenomenon of unofficial urbanonymy exemplified by urban place names of the Russian city of Ekaterinburg. With the term “city facilities” applying broadly to streets, squares, neighborhoods, etc., as well as to the elements of social, educational, cultural, industrial infrastructure, the authors examine the factors affecting the coinage of unofficial city names. This informal naming is regarded as an act of active social involvement in the creation of the “urban text”. To identify the intentions of such collective nominator, a survey was conducted among university students, post-graduates, and teaching staff, as well as senior school students (the total number of respondents comprising 300 people). The survey covered both permanent and temporary residents, including city guests. The compiled questionnaire included specification of the age and gender parameters of the audience, the respondents’ attitude to unofficial names, their views on why and where these urbanonyms are used. As the survey revealed, the key feature shared by all the creators of informal urbanonymy is their status as old-timers: the familiarity of nominators with informal place names attests to their deep involvement in the city life. For non-residents, the growing grasp of informal urbanonyms turns out to be a part of “initiation into old-timers”. Although the age characteristics of nominators do not seem particularly relevant with most respondents, one can still say that informal urbanonymy emerges in the youth environment. The analysis of the survey reveals two closely related trends affecting the development of unofficial urbanonymy, namely, the contraction of official names, manifested in morpheme clipping, shortening of names, and the tendency to “carnivalize” urban space, generating original, highly expressive figurative naming cases.

Keywords: official and unofficial urbanonymy, nomination, sociolinguistics, survey, urban society


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