2022, Volume 19, Issue 3

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Maria V. Bobrova
Institute for Linguistic Studies of the RAS
St Petersburg, Russia

Roman V. Gaidamashko
Institute for Linguistic Studies of the RAS
Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia
St Petersburg, Russia
Ivannikov Institute for System Programming of the RAS
Moscow, Russia

Linguo-Cultural Component in a Folklore Toponym: The Semantics of ‘White’ in the Udmurt Names of the Kama River
Review of the book: Kelmakov, V. K. (2019). Belaia Kama vpriam’ li belaia? (Udmurtskie nazvaniia reki Kamy v pis’mennykh istochnikakh): Preprint [Is the White Kama Really White? (Udmurt Names of the Kama River in Written Sources): Preprint]. Izhevsk: Udmurtskii universitet. 104 p.

Voprosy onomastiki, 2022, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp. 308–318 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2022.19.3.043

Received on 15 February 2022

Abstract: The review looks at the monograph Is the White Kama Really White? (Udmurt Names of the Kama River in Written Sources) by Valentin K. Kelmakov which is a many-faceted study of the entitled hydronym. The author provides information about its geographical position, considers etymological hypotheses for the origin of this proper name, explores the usage of the word kam in the oldest meaning of ‘(big) river’ as the most probable etymon, substantiates that this archaic meaning is still preserved in various oral and written sources. The focus is on six variants of the name of the Kama River in Udmurt texts of various functional spheres: Kam (Kama), Kam (Kama) shur, Tӧd’y Kam (Kama). Based on historical and statistical data, linguistic and stylistic features of the name variants in the works of the Udmurts, the author concludes that there are two semantic layers in the name “White Kama”: 1) the retrospective, tied to the hydronym Belaya River — the historical homeland of the ancestors of the Udmurts; in this case, the element kam acts in the original meaning of ‘stream, river,’ and the component Tӧd’y ‘White’ — as a proper name; 2) the modern, according to which “white” is a poetic epithet of the Kama River. The study builds on massive folklore and significant comparative material, including foreign languages (Russian and German). However, there are also some deficiencies in terms of the style and structure, the ambiguity of the researcher’s goal, as well as the fact that the author overlooks the correlation between the concepts “white” — “clean, pure” — “sacred (holy, saint)”. Nevertheless, given the extensive evidence base, the author’s work must be complimented and commended for.

Keywords: Udmurt language, toponymy, folklore studies, etymology, linguistic anthropology, Kama River.


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