1st Conference Series in Onomastics: Anthroponymy and Toponymy



Banner conferencia 

The UIB Language Service and Onomastics Unit, in collaboration with the Directorate General for Language Policy, is organising an online conference series throughout 2021 on anthroponomy and toponymy as a way to bolster continuity of its Onomastics Conference: Anthroponymy and Toponymy, of which 29 editions have been held thus far.

In light of the current pandemic and with an awareness of how important specific training can be, this year we have decided to change the conference format for an online series to provide support to the work carried out by anthroponomastics and toponymy specialists.

The series will comprise a monthly digital conference given by renowned specialists and scholars in the field.

As with the usual annual conference, the series shall be made available online at the Language Service Onomastics Unit website.

We hope to be able to hold a special 30th Annual Onomastics Conference: Anthroponymy and Toponymy in 2022 with a look back over the last thirty years: places, participants, public, records, images, etc. and with an assessment of what the past three decades have meant.

Dates: one conference will be held per month in February, March, April, May, June, September and October 2021.

Method: online over the Zoom platform (you will be sent a link to join the conference room before each session).                             

Length: 90 minutes                 Language: Catalan

Target audience: given the inter-departmental nature of the onomastics field, the conferences will be of particular interest to scholars and all those with a keen interest in geography, history and philology, to other members of the academic community and to a wider general audience.

Activity: open to all those interested, by prior registration. An attendance certificate shall be provided after each conference, as long as attendees have registered and their attendance can be verified.

Registration form 


For any further information or query, please write to the following address <jornada.onomastica@uib.cat>.

Organised by: Language Service Onomastics Unit

In collaboration with: the Directorate General for Language Policy at the Department of Culture, Participation and Sports of the Regional Government of the Balearic Islands


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Conference 1: Wednesday 24th February

4 - 5:30 pm. Conference: 'Els trencadors de marès en la toponímia. El cas de s’Arenal i Son Sunyer (Palma)' (Marés Sandstone Stonecutters and Toponymy: S'Arenal and Son Sunyer [Palma]).

Conference given by Dídac Martorell Paquier.

Link to video

Abstract: S’Arenal and Son Sunyer comprise a territorial area with a common marés sandstone geomorphology. This situation led to many stonecutters moving to the area from the Middle Ages to the mid-20th century to work on the land, forming a geography defined by sandstone construction with different variations of stone. These sandstone work-related migrations historically led to areas being defined and redefined in significance, forming an ever-denser network of toponyms - many of which directly derived from monikers given in the building industry in the early 20th century. This conference offers a diachronic reading of the toponymic derivations of sandstone stonecutters in the neighbourhoods and villages of S'Arenal and Son Sunyer, with a dual external-internal perspective, starting with a viewpoint on spatial territorialisation and relationships of power. In turn, a new collection of toponyms shall be presented linked to the quarries in Son Sunyer with an analysis of their linguistic features.

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Conference 2: Wednesday 24th March

4 - 5:30 pm. Conference 'El projecte del Nomenclàtor mundial: metodologia i criteris' (The World Gazetteer Project: Methodology and Criteria).

Conference given by Joan Anton Rabella i Ribas.

Link to video

Abstract: The main aim of the World Gazetteer project from the Catalan Toponym Commission is to set non-Catalan toponym forms for public use in Catalan (media, dissemination work, etc.). For this reason, determining the toponym corpus prioritises the more general forms of use that enable suitable identification of toponyms and their geographic location, either through adaptation to Catalan (e.g. Milà for Milan) or in their source language (Oxford), where Catalan has no specific form or said form is not in general use. In turn, as the project has progressed, we have seen that beyond exonyms with a historical tradition in Catalan, there are widely complex cases and situations that we have attempted to process in a standard approach, wherever possible.

The presentation will focus on setting out the main conflicts and the criteria followed by the Onomastics Commission in the Philology Unit charged with analysing toponyms from a linguistic standpoint. In this sense, it intends to provide a sample of the complexity of one of the least covered aspects in Catalan toponymics - exonyms - as well as present a project aimed at providing a useful tool for more general issues (the final project will include around 7,000 toponyms). In turn, the World Gazetteer has enabled us to see the difficulty in gathering systematic toponym approaches in such a wide and diverse field (where we must take into account the different adaptation levels of toponyms in Catalan, the existence of toponyms with more than one designation, language contact and the different recognition levels of these languages, the use of different transcription systems, etc.).

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Conference 3: Wednesday 28th April

4 - 5:30 pm. Conference 'Els cognoms de les Illes Balears. Aproximació històrica i lingüística' (Balearic Island Surnames: An Historical and Linguistic Approach).

Conference given by Gabriel Bibiloni Cañellas.

Link to video

Abstract: Traditional Balearic surnames mostly originate with the settlers who repopulated the islands after the Catalan conquests of 1229, (Majorca), 1235 (Ibiza) and 1287 (Minorca). At the time of repopulation (13th and 14th centuries), the process of establishing surnames was culminating, with all of them coming from monikers that were common across the population of the time, especially from the 11th century onwards. The monikers that became surnames could be toponymic (indicating the origins of the bearers or their ancestors), patronymic (referring to their father's name), trade names or descriptive terms. Some Balearic surnames were formed on the islands themselves, especially those referring to island toponyms, whilst others were added with the arrival of Italian, French, English and Spanish migrants. In turn, other interesting phenomena include gender inflection or the creating of toponyms based on surnames.

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Conference 4: Wednesday 26th May

4 - 5:30 pm. Conference 'Els prenoms catalans, entre la tradició antroponímica i la innovació onomàstica' (Catalan First Names: From Anthroponymic Tradition to Onomastic Innovation).

Conference given by Albert Turull Rubinat.

Link to video

Abstract: The presentation will offer a global overview of the historical evolution and current reality of one of the core types or personal names or anthroponyms: first names (also known as forenames, Christian names, etc.). This will include a semantic (transparent and opaque names, etc.) and morpho-lexical (simple, compound, derived names, etc.) linguistic typology, as well as an historical overview (etymology and original meaning of first names according to applicable historical and cultural strata). There will also be a pragmatic overview: origin, expansion and evolution of anthroponymic forms, balance (or imbalance) between historical and more modern names, local and foreign names, without overlooking current standard pet names, newly coined names, adaptations from other languages or areas (including toponymics), ambiguities (in terms of linguistic affiliation or gender), etc. with regard to current first names within Catalan-speaking areas.

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Conference 5: Wednesday 23rd June

4 - 5:30 pm. Conference 'Inventaris onomàstics als Països Catalans. Estat de la qüestió' (Onomastic Inventories in Catalan-speaking Regions: State of Play).

Conference given by Pere Navarro Gómez.

Link to video

Abstract: Comprehensive municipal onomastic inventories include current and past toponyms and anthroponyms for a specific location with a view to safeguarding intangible heritage represented by the place and personal names of an area linked to specific human settlements. Comprehensive inventories come from both oral sources (through fieldwork with interviewees) and from consulting handwritten and printed documents.

Over two hundred municipal onomastic works from around Catalan-speaking regions have been put together, from the first on Sant Pere de Ribes in 1936 by Cristòfor Cardús, to the most recent on Torre de l'Espanyol in 2020 by Sílvia Veà.

The Vallès Oriental, Camp de Tarragona and Priorat stand out for their published municipal onomastic inventories. To date, all territories have municipal onomastic inventories, from Alghero to La Franja in Aragón, and from Roussillon to southern Valencia.

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Conference 6: Wednesday 22nd September

4 - 5:30 pm. Conference 'Les problemàtiques patronímiques a la Catalunya del Nord i la francesització dels cognoms (segles XV-XXI)' (Patronymic Issues in Roussillon and the Francisation of Surnames [15th-21st Centuries]).

Conference given by Joan Peytaví Deixona.

Link to video

Abstract: The presentation shall provide an historic overview of patronyms in Roussillon between the middle ages (when surnames were set) and the early 21st century. It will look at the assignation of patronyms, feminisation, double surnames and passing on surnames by women, amongst other specificities shared in many Catalan-speaking areas. There will also be a section explaining and illustrating how the change of state in the 17th century arising from the Treaty of the Pyrenees and the partition of Catalonia had repercussions on surnames not just from the 18th century. It will discuss how progressive francisation from the 19th century and subsequent linguistic break and replacement in the last third of the 20th century have changed the pronunciation of local and imported Catalan surnames in the last 100 years. In addition to identity problems, divergence and lack of knowledge of history and language, Catalan surnames from the beyond the Albera Massif have undergone changes in several ways.


Conference 7: Wednesday 6th October

4 - 5:30 pm. Conference 'L’onomàstica de la Torre de l’Espanyol, l’inventari' (Onomastics in Torre de l'Espanyol: the Inventory).

Conference given by Sílvia Veà Vila.

Link to video

Abstract: Producing onomastic inventories is an urgent task today. With the move away from tilling the land in favour of other work, oral transmission of placenames is stifled and most toponyms could disappear alongside the last people who harvest the local lands. For this reason, work needs to get underway to collect and commit to paper all information at risk of disappearing shortly if nothing is done. This information is not just related to a few names, but rather refers to our language, landscape, history, society, worldview and a long list of other diverse areas of knowledge.

Onomàstica de la Torre de l’Espanyol, winner of the first Ramon Amigó i Anglès Research Award (2016-2018), came from a desire to preserve toponyms and anthroponyms in towns and cities in Catalan-speaking regions.

This presentation will look at how to produce an onomastic inventory, the work that the Ramón Amigó i Anglès Research Award wishes to develop and some of the toponyms and anthroponyms collected in the town of Torre de l'Espanyol, in Ribera d'Ebre county.