OnomasticsUniversität Innsbruck

Onomastics in Mining

Names enable time travels into the past not only by conserving former language conditions but also by throwing light on the protagonists (i. e. those giving the names) and their doing. But the questions arising from that go far beyond linguistic reflections: What did change within the language in contrast to names? How and why? Who where the actors? Where did they settle? What influence did they have on their surroundings? Did several ethnic groups meet? What influnce did that have on naming? Do names tell us something about the settlers' actions and thinking? Being of central importance not only for one, but for numerous disciplines, such questions are predestined to be dealt with in an interdisciplinary approach.

With special regard on mining the project part "Onomastics in Mining" aims at answering such questions within an interdisciplinary context in order to approach common solutions. On the one hand toponyms (i. e. place names and field names, partly also vulgo- and farmyard names) reveal places where former mining activities and metallurgical processes have been carried out or where the corresponding infrastructure was set up. On the other hand anthroponyms (personal names) enable socio-cultural aspects to be discussed: thus, by means of occupational names certain occupational groups with a close connection to mining can be determined that give information on the social structure of a settlement strongly affected by mining. Moreover, the prevalent "dark" phase of first mining activities can be shed light on. Finally, family names deriving from place names can trace back settlement dynamics that contribute to the question of where the miners came from.

The collection of names is on the one hand carried out on a synchronic basis: with the help of local informants the recent name layer is recorded, georeferenced and stored in a data base. On the other hand the names are embeded into a historical context by a study of sources: When do mining relevant names first occur? What do they name? What do they mean? The connection of synchronic and diachronic data allows for an extensive evaluation of the name landscape and together with that of the language area and the cultural and social landscape in the key areas.

Current works/Co-operations

In 2011 Yvonne Kathrein finished her doctor’s thesis entitled „Historisches Familiennamenbuch der Landgerichte Freundsberg und Rottenburg. Die Namenlandschaft einer Montanregion“. This scientific paper contains an overview of analysed anthroponyms (personal names) in the area of the mining area Schwaz. [1]

Among the research of anthroponyms in Schwaz just a few onymic surroundings of mining areas (Mühlbach am Hochkönig, Kogelmoos, Klausen/Villanders) were examined closely.

In consequence, the further action consists of the investigation of the onymic surroundings of mining areas in the Tyrol and their linguistical, historical and geographical interpretation.

The collection of recent names is supported by the co-operation with the project "Flurnamendokumentation im Bundesland Tirol"[2] (documentation of field names in the Tyrol) which meanwhile enables us to focus on archival research.


[1] Kathrein, 2011: 6

[2] Being an initiative of the "Tiroler Nomenklaturkommission" (Tyrolean Commission of Nomenclature) and the "Tiroler Chronistenverband" (Tyrolean Association of Chroniclers) (http://www.onomastik.at/index.php?article_id=99).