General information

Course type AMUPIE
Module title Introduction To International Onomastics
Language English
Module lecturer prof. UAM dr hab. Justyna Walkowiak
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position professor
Faculty Faculty of Modern Languages and Literatures
Semester 2021/2022 (summer)
Duration 30
USOS code 09-ONO-11


Module aim (aims)

This course will:

A1: acquaint students with onomastic terminology, as well as with the history and basic methods of onomastic research

A2: provide students with theoretical and analytical tools to identify and analyse proper names in their sociocultural setting, making a distinction between their etymology and motivation

A3: make students aware of the relevance of proper names as cultural heritage

A4: show students how onomastic knowledge can be applied in practice in various spheres of human activity

A5: highlight both transnational similarities and cultural differences in naming patterns

A6: encourage students to perceive linguistic data in an onomastic perspective

A7: teach students how to gather and process onomastic data

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)

General knowledge of linguistics, B2-level fluency in English


TK_01 - Onomastics: scope, history of research, status, interdisciplinary character, relationship to other disciplines. Basic concepts and terms. Categories of onyms. Etymology vs. motivation.

ONO_01, ONO_03, ONO_06

TK_02 – Onyms and meaning: controversies, philosophical tradition, new evidence from psychology, speech therapy and neurosciences. The grammar of proper names.

Onomastic processes: appellativisation, onymisation, transonymisation; eponyms.

ONO_02 TK_03 Anthroponyms – division.

Personal naming patterns across the globe. Personal names as a universal.

Given names – native vs. Christian, semantic transparency / opacity, name fashion, hypocoristics. Surnames – the creation of a „legible people”. Patronymics.

Other anthroponyms: nicknames, bynames, pseudonyms, usernames.

ONO_01, ONO_05

TK_04 Toponyms – categories; oikonyms vs. anoikonyms. Urban naming. Onomastics and Linguistic Landscape.

ONO_01 TK_05 Other categories of onyms: chrematonyms – types, differences in categorisation; animal names; astronomical names. Fuzzy areas (e.g. ethnonyms, names for days of the week; taxonomies in botany, zoology, chemistry, medicine, etc.)

ONO_01 TK_06 Onyms and the law. Name policies – the politics of names. Name changes, renamings, toponymic attachment. Commemorative naming. European legislation (FCNM). ONO_03, ONO_04, ONO_05, ONO_06

TK_07 Literary onomastics. Proper names and translation.

ONO_03 TK_08 Onyms in society – applied onomastics: brand names and their creation, onyms in the media, name-based systems for recognising/predicting ethnicity

ONO_03, ONO_06 TK_09 Onyms and the layman: informal names, folk onomastics, perception of onyms, name stereotypes, onyms in idoms.

ONO_01, ONO_06

TK_10 Standardisation in toponymy. „The great toponymic divide” – exonyms vs. endonyms. The role of UNGEGN and of national geographic names boards.

ONO_04, ONO_06 TK_11 Onyms and gender: naming patterns for women in history, feminine surnames. Names of spouses across cultures.

ONO_03, ONO_04, ONO_06 TK_12 Designing and conducting onomastic research. Onomastic methods, sources and resources, onomastic journals and organisations.

ONO_03, ONO_06

ONO_01 Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to identify the main types of onyms, will know their names and characterize them. ONO_02 Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to describe, discuss and debate the difference between proper names and appellatives with regard to meaning and other characteristics, as well as characterise the main onomastic processes ONO_03 Upon completion of the course, the student will be acquainted with the methods of onomastics, as well as be aware of its interdisciplinary character, of its ties with other disciplines and of its practical applications

ONO_04 Upon completion of the course, the student will know and be able to analyze the influence of laws, regulations and the standardising processes upon the proprial sphere of language

ONO_05 Upon completion of the course, the student will be to discuss and interpret the basic differences in personal naming patterns across the globe

ONO_06 Upon completion of the course, the student will analyse and interpret data from an onomastic perspective

Reading list

Alford, Richard D. 1988. Naming and Identity: A Cross-Cultural Sudy of Personal Naming Practices. New Haven: HRAF.

Anderson, John M. 2007. The Grammar of Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bijak, Urszula 2019. The Development of Polish Toponomastic Terminology. Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Skłodowska Sectio FF 37, pp. 91-103, DOI: 10.17951/ff.2019.37.1.91-103.

Bredart, Serge, Tim Brennen, Tim Valentine The Cognitive Psychology of Proper Names. Routledge.

Eichler, Ernst, Gerold Hilty, Heinrich Löffler, Hugo Steger, Ladislav Zgusta (eds.) 1995. Namenforschung: ein internationales Handbuch zur Onomastik / Name studies: an international handbook of onomastics / Les noms propres: manuel international d'onomastique. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Gerhard, Jurgen 2018. The Name Game. Routledge.

Hough, Carole, Daria Izdebska 2016. The Oxford Handbook of Names and Naming. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Puzey, Guy 2011. New research directions in toponomastics and linguistic landscapes. Onoma 46, pp. 211-226. DOI: 10.2143/ONO.46.0.2975535

Scott, James C. 1998. Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Van Langendonck, Willy 2007. Theory and Typology of Proper Names. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Vuolteenaho, Jani, Lawrence D. Berg 2016. Critical Toponymies. The Contested Politics of Place Naming. Routledge.

Wilson, Stephen 2004. The Means of Naming. A Social and Cultural History of Personal Naming in Western Europe. Routledge.


A Guide to Names and Naming Practices. Interpol, 2006. Onomastic terms approved by ICOS: (the Polish list: ICOS website: United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names: