2021, Volume 18, Issue 2

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Joshua Nash
University of New England
University of South Australia
Armidale, Australia

Official and Unofficial Toponyms on Norfolk Island

Voprosy onomastiki, 2021, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp. 228–236 (in English)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2021.18.2.027

Received on 7 December 2020

Abstract: Norfolk Island (South Pacific), a small external territory of Australia, has a placenaming record marked by distinct historical, settlement, and land use periods. This brief communication considers the complex nexus of official–unofficial, embedded–unembedded, and English–Norfolk Island language toponyms as a way to make better sense of the localization of toponymic knowledge and to appreciate better how such knowledge functions within a minute society intricately connected to its own largely known past and an ever changing toponymic present. The data were collected during interview fieldwork on Norfolk Island during the period 2007–2009. It concludes by putting forward a four-category division of Norfolk Island toponyms: 1) official names adhering to common colonial forms; 2) official and unofficial descriptive names; 3) unofficial names commemorating local people; 4) unofficial and esoteric names remembering local events and people. These categories appear distinct, but they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The differentiation of processes of toponyms becoming embedded and the localization of toponymic knowledge are a possible explanation for the loss of toponymic knowledge among younger people on Norfolk Island and suggests a general ecological disconnect across time involving people, history, and events associated with Norfolk Island toponyms. The Norfolk Island official–unofficial toponym distinction is applicable to other toponymic case studies, especially situations with competing placenaming histories.

Keywords: island toponymy, Norfolk Island language, endonyms and exonyms, taboo, placenaming.


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