2021, Volume 18, Issue 3

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Nadezhda V. Kabinina
Ekaterina D. Kornienko

Ural Federal University
Ekaterinburg, Russia

The Nothern Russian Toponym Urdoma: Old and New Etymologies

Voprosy onomastiki, 2021, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp. 41–65 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2021.18.3.032

Received on 12 August 2021

Abstract: The paper focuses on some earlier and new etymologies of the mysterious toponym Urdoma which nowadays refers to a village located on the left bank of the river Vychegda in Lensky district, Arkhangelsk region. Studying historical records and materials related to local history, the authors conclude that this place name was originally attributed to a stream (the right feeder of the Vychegda) nearby the settlement Urdoma and the volost of the same name. The first part of the paper reviews the earlier etymologies of the name and comments on their validity and reliability. The authors reject the hypothesis of Sanskrit ūrdhva (‘high’) as the origin for Urdoma; the interpretation of the place name as Komi-Zyryan ur ‘squirrel’ + Russian doma ‘houses’ is considered a folk etymology; the authors also note the weaknesses of some other hypotheses which trace the origin of the name from Finnic *Urto/maa ‘the woodland for hunting,’ or from Komi *(V)urd/vom < ‘tamias’ + ‘river mouth,’ or from Permic *Ur/ton ‘without squirrels.’ The second part of the paper suggests two new etymological hypotheses. According to the first one, the hydronym Urdoma originates not from the Komi-Zyryan language directly but from an earlier Proto-Permic root *ɨrd- which had a basic meaning of ‘put upright’ (> ‘obstruct’). Within this hypothesis, the meaning of ‘obstructedness’ conveys the river’s suitability for setting fishing weirs, or the presence of obstructions of natural origin such as deadfall piles, or (considering metonymy) the existence of a fortress near the river in the past. According to the second hypothesis, the hydronym Urdoma relates to the place names which include the term -dom widely spread in historical Meryan lands and on the northern Finnish territories. In that case, considering denotative toponymic meaning of the term -dom, the final component of the toponym Urdoma can be interpreted as ‘mountain; raised riverbank’. The first component of the place name (which possibly has been deformed) can be associated with Sami urd ‘large plateau or highland’.

Keywords: the European North of Russia; Arkhangelsk region; substrate toponymy; Urdoma; Finno-Ugric languages; Permic languages; etymology.

Acknowledgements

The contribution by N. V. Kabinina was carried out within the project Etymologization and Semantic Reconstruction of the Russian Dialect Vocabulary supported by the Russian Science Foundation (grant number. 20-18-00223)

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