• The Instability of Place-names in Anglo-Saxon England and Early Medieval Wales, and the Loss of Roman Toponymy

    Alaric Hall (see profile)
    Anglo-Saxons--Study and teaching, English language--Old English, Wales, History
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Book of Llandaf, Old Welsh, Placenames, Toponymy, Anglo-Saxon studies, Old English, Welsh history
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    'The Instability of Place-names in Anglo-Saxon England and Early Medieval Wales, and the Loss of Roman Toponymy' makes its contributions in three main areas, pragmatic, theoretical and historical: * Pragmatic: this is an ‘open source’ paper. Its findings arise from several datasets which are published online, primarily at http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/42650, as an integral part of this paper. Readers are invited not only to use these datasets to check Alaric's claims, but to develop them for their own purposes. * Theoretical: we often work on the implicit assumption that place-name survival is random, and therefore unbiased evidence for the time at which the names were coined. This may not be the case, however. In using a number of different, relatively large datasets to sketch how stable place-names were in early medieval England and Wales and in what circumstances, this paper begins to address fundamental sociolinguistic questions about how place-names were coined, accepted, and maintained. * Historical: as a case-study for the historical implications of its theoretical explorations, the paper analyses the early medieval language-shift in eastern Britain from Celtic and Latin to English. A key approach here is to compare English evidence with a region which to a large extent experienced linguistic continuity throughout the first millennium, Wales. Early medieval Wales suggests the degree to which place-names might be unstable despite substantial linguistic continuity. We have little more hard evidence for continuity of names from the Roman period in Wales than in England, and England arguably shows no greater loss of Roman place-names than we should expect in any region of post-Roman Britain.
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    5 years ago
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