2020, Volume 17, Issue 2

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Valery L. Vasilyev
Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University
Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Novgorod Hydronymy Ending in -ka: Structure, Derivation, Chronology (Based on Water Body Names of the Msta River Basin)

Voprosy onomastiki, 2020, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp. 75–106 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2020.17.2.019

Received on 1 December 2019

Abstract: The article comprehensively explores the names of river bodies ending in -ka (Gorodenka, Verebushka, Osipovka, Plotichinka, etc.), permeating the historical territories of medieval Novgorod as well as many other Russian regions, taking up to 30% of the total river names. The first part of the article gives a general description of this type of hydronymy with a focus on the Novgorod territory. These names are featured by 1) background-like density and homogeneity of territorial distribution, 2) prevailing reference (with some exception) to small rivers and creeks, 3) structural and derivational diversity, 4) continued productivity, evidenced by a close relation to the colloquial vocabulary of the modern Russian language and new word-formation cases. The second part of the article includes a detailed structural and derivational analysis of the hydronymy localized in the Msta river basin. This deliberate choice is explained by the fact that Msta basin hydronyms, belonging to the central districts of Novgorod land, have previously been well studied and classified. It allows the author to extrapolate the results of a carefully conducted analysis to the rest of the adjacent Novgorod areas. The analysis of microsystemic connections between geographical names showed that about half of the total river names with the final -ka originate from the names of villages, up to a quarter of them are coming from the names of outflow lakes, whereas up to 7% of river names are derived from their early variants (probably by analogy), and only a fifth of them stems from appellatives. Some 6% of derivatives refer to the lakes, however, uncommon to the field of limnonymy, such names are usually isolated and random. Approximately 90% of the hydronymic units under study end with a simple formant -ka, while the rest 10% of hydronyms have complex formants -ovka/- evka, -inka, -enka, -anka/-yanka, -ushka. Historically, the rise of hydronyms ending in -ka has been attested from the 15th century, becoming more widespread through the 18th and 20th centuries.

Keywords: Novgorod territory, Msta river basin, formant -ka, hydronyms, oikonyms, limnonyms, toponymic derivation, chronology.


The study is supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project No. 19-012-00120 “The Hydronymy of Historical Novgorod and Pskov Lands. A Structural, Derivational, Etymological, Areal and Ethnohistorical Study”).


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