2019, Volume 16, Issue 4

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Ekaterina V. Sundueva
Institute for Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Ulan-Ude, Russia

Phytotoponyms of the Barguts of the South-East of China

Voprosy onomastiki, 2019, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp. 202–211 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2019.16.4.053

Received 18 February 2019

Abstract: The paper deals with the names of plants, constituent units of compound geographic names attested in the territory of the urban district of Khulun-Buir (New Barga Eastern khoshuu, New Barga Western khoshuu, and Old Barga khoshuu) which is situated in the north-eastern part of the Autonomous Region Inner Mongolia of the People’s Republic of China. The analysis of phytonyms’ internal form leads the author to conclude that visual perception of the plants plays the leading role in the process of their naming. In this logic, feather grass and sedge received their names due to the sticking-out and long stalks, willow was entitled due to a curly crown, and pea shrub — for its sharp spines. The local hydrographic term üyet ‘piece of water’ is revealed. It originated by metaphorical transfer from the plant name üyet ‘saltmarsh-grass’. The Bargut orographic term qurγalj ‘defiladed hollow’ is a homonym of the plant named qurγalj ‘low love grass’ but these happen to go back to different etymons: the orographical term is connected with the verb *qurɣ- ‘to disappear, hide’ while the phytonym derives from a figurative root *qurɣ ‘something long, extended’. It is revealed that phytonyms (as the main component of compound geographical names) generally designate a forest or an underbrush. Only the word khailaas ‘elm’ is used to define a separate tree. Such trees are believed to have their own spirits or masters, and therefore, as a rule, serve as objects of honoring described in multiple legends of Bargut folklore. The study of phytonyms can provide information on the dynamics of Mongolian peoples’ migration and settlement at the northeast of China, the way they transformed the geological system and formed the picture of the physically and spiritually reclaimed space.

Keywords: Mongolic languages, Barguts, phytonym, toponym, determinative, meaning, naming, sign, cognition.

The research was carried out within the state assignment (project “Mentality of the Mongolian people in the mirror of language”, № АААА-А17-117021310266-8).


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