2020, Volume 17, Issue 1

Back to the Table of Contents

Mo Li
Saint Petersburg State University
St Petersburg, Russia

Ekaterina S. Ryabtseva
Ural Federal University
Ekaterinburg, Russia

Street Names of Shanghai and Ekaterinburg: A Comparative Study

Voprosy onomastiki, 2020, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp. 136–149 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2020.17.1.007

Received 15 November 2019

Abstract: The paper presents the findings of a comparative study of street names (hodonyms) in Shanghai and Ekaterinburg in terms of their motivation and historical background. It gives a picture of the main milestones in the history of Shanghai to reveal the general principles of assigning street names: the ancient period associates with natural naming, a particular style of names that modern native speakers regard as classical or “ancient”; the Сoncession Period was marked by a strong European influence in the naming of linear objects; the period after the Xinhai revolution and the period after the formation of the Republic of China are notable by the use of ideological concepts that underlie the naming of city facilities. Based on the semantic classification of hodonyms developed by Yulia A. Kachalkova, the authors distinguish three main groups of street names (memorial, descriptive, and conditionally symbolic), describing features of a specific cultural background behind the formally similar types of names. For instance, the names of mountains inherent in street names in the Chinese culture, besides referring to physical objects, are also symbolic. This brings the authors to identify the street naming patterns that are unique for Russian and Chinese tradition. The hodonymy of Shanghai is peculiar for its appeal to culturally significant texts, the use of fundamental concepts written down in the “old style,” images of mythological animals, whereas in Ekaterinburg a street name typically refers to everyday life and technology. Some examples of structural and semantic differences in the formation of street names are given (namely, the use of syntactically incoherent ideological references in street names of Shanghai at a certain historical stage). It is suggested that some practices of street naming in Shanghai, namely the correlation between the street location and the geographical location of the object it was named by, could be adopted into Russian context.

Keywords: onomastics, urbanonymy, hodonymy, street names, urban names, semantics, naming pattern, Shanghai, Ekaterinburg.

The work was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (grant 18-012-00586, Urban Names as Part of the Linguistic Landscape of a City: Traditions and Perspectives of Rational Development).


David, J. (2013). Street Names — Between Ideology and Cultural Heritage. Acta onomastica, 54, 53–60.

Egorova, L. V. (2018). K voprosu izucheniia godonimov v sovremennoi paradigme lingvisticheskikh issledovanii [To the Issue of the Study of Hodonyms in the Modern Paradigm of Linguistic Research]. Vestnik Chuvashskogo universiteta, 2, 224–233.

Guo, T. (2014). A Tale of Two Cities — Shanghai and Hong Kong. China Outlook. Retrieved from http://chinaoutlook.com/essays/tale-two-cities-shanghai-hong-kong/

Kachalkova, Yu. A. (2013). Urbanonimicheskoe prostranstvo sovremennogo Ekaterinburga (ofitsial’nye nazvaniia) [Urbanonymic Space of Modern Ekaterinburg (Official Names)]. Voprosy onomastiki, 1, 88–104.

Kogan, E. S., & Li, Mo (2018). Godonimiia Shankhaia kak sredstvo sozdaniia obraza goroda: istoriia i sovremennost’ [Hodonymy of Shanghai and the Image of the City: History and Modernity]. Nauchnyi dialog, 12, 85–94. https://doi.org/10.24224/2227-1295-2018-12-85-94

Kotelnikova, N. N. (2019). Lingvokul’turnye osobennosti tekstov vyvesok kak fragmenta semioticheskogo prostranstva sovremennogo kitaiskogo goroda [Linguistic and Cultural Features of Street Sign Texts as a Part of the Semiotic Space of a Modern Chinese City]. Vestnik Samarskogo universiteta. Istoriia, pedagogika, filologiia, 3, 130–138. http://doi.org/10.18287/2542-0445-2019-25-3-130-138

Mezenko, A. M. (2011). Urbanonimiia kak iazyk kul’tury [Urbanonymy as a Language of Culture]. Uchenye zapiski Tavricheskogo natsional’nogo universiteta im. V. I. Vernadskogo. Ser. Filologiia. Sotsial’nye kommunikatsii”, 24(2) 388–392.

Razumov, R. V. (2015). Ob uporiadochenii onomasticheskoi terminologii v oblasti urbanonimii [On Unification of Onomastic Terminology in the Field of Urbanonymy]. Verkhnevolzhskii filologicheskii vestnik, 2, 14–19.

Tsui, Yaosinian (2018). Analiz leksiko-semanticheskikh osobennostei godonimov Belgoroda i Shankhaia [Analysis of the Lexical and Semantic Features of Hodonyms of Belgorod and Shanghai]. Retrieved from https://nauchkor.ru/uploads/documents/5c1a82e77966e104f6f85ba8.pdf

Wan, Hua (2014). Sopostavlenie nazvanii ulits v kitaiskoi i russkoi lingvokul’turakh (na materiale nazvanii po imenam istoricheskikh lits) [Comparing Street Names in Chinese and Russian Linguistic Cultures (Based on the Names of Historical Figures)]. Vestnik Moskovskogo universiteta. Ser. 9: “Filologiia”, 1, 219–230.

Wan, Li (2005). Strukturno-grammaticheskie tipy i modeli godonimov Shankhaia [Structural and Grammatical Types and Models of the Shanghai Hodonymy]. Vesnіk Vіtsebskaga dziarzhaunaga unіversіteta, 1, 144–147.

Zheng, Baojun (2014). Study on the Humanistic Value of Shanghai Street Names. Journal of Shanghai University of Electric Power, 30, 82–104.