L. Y. Kirillova (Izhevsk, Russia)




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L. Y. Kirillova (Izhevsk, Russia)

The History of Udmurt Toponyms


The history of Udmurt toponyms cannot be separated from the historical development of toponymy as a field of research in our country. As is widely known, the first to collect geographical names were travellers, who fixed toponyms in their investigations and diaries. Udmurt toponyms began to be collected and discussed to a certain extent in the 16th–18th centuries, mainly in works by travellers, historians and writers. In the 19th and early 20th century names of settlements and rivers were recorded in various censuses and lists of inhabited places of the Kazan and V’atka provinces where Udmurts were living. Special research devoted to toponymy was missing, its questions were superficially touched upon in historical and ethnographical works. Toponymic data, as well as those of other areas of onomastics, were used in them as supplementary sources for solving problems other than onomastical. The majority of the works that arose in that period are mainly descriptive in character. Apart from these deficiences, however, the period in question is an important hallmark and a precondition for a more profound and multilateral study in the second half of the 20th century. For more details on this see M. G. Atamanov (1988b, pp. 51–57; 1997, pp. 6–8) and L. Y. Kirillova [Zve­reva] (Zvereva 1983b, pp. 101–109; Kirillova 1992b, pp. 65–73).

It was only in the early 60s of the 20th century that the first individual studies on Udmurt toponyms had been published. Thus, e.g., G. A. Arkhipov wrote an article on anthroponyms and toponyms in “Молот” (Hammer), one of the journals of the Republic. In it he pointed out some principles of denomination of geographical objects in Udmurtland (Arkhipov 1963).

The new stage of development in Udmurt toponymic studies is connected with the following important factors:

1. Toponymic research as such was placed on a much wider basis and gathering local terminology made a fresh start.

2. Dozens of articles, monographs, popular books, dictionaries and bibliog­raphical indexes came out.

3. With the participation of the Republics, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd conferences in toponymy and onomastics were held in Kiev in 1959, 1962 and 1965. Then these events were arranged in Moscow (1961, 1962, 1964, 1966), Leningrad (1965), Riga (1967), Minsk (1967), etc., uniting onomasticians of the country. A very great role was played by the 1st conference in onomastics organised in the Volga region in Ulyanovsk in 1967, the 2nd in Gorky in 1969, the 3rd in Ufa in 1971, the 4th in Saransk in 1973, the 5th in Penza in 1975 and the 6th in Volgograd in 1989. Other regional conferences like the ones in Naberezhnyje Chelny in 1990 and 1996, organised for the discussion of the study and protection of historical and cultural monuments in the lower reaches of the river Kama, also had sections on toponymy.

4. Commissions on toponymy (onomastics) were formed within the Geographic Society of the USSR and its sections in different republics and prov­inces.

5. Toponymy as a research topic was included in the scientific programs of institutions and departments at arts and geographic faculties of universities and teachers training colleges.

6. Since the late 80s extensive work has been done for the restoration and preservation of historical names. It is directed by the “Научно-общест­вен­ный совет по топонимии” (Social Scientific Board for Toponymy), formed in Moscow in 1988. The Board initiated three comprehensive conferences, entitled “Исторические названия — памятники культуры” (Historical names — monuments of culture), in Moscow in 1989 and 1991 and in Pet­rozavodsk in 1993. At these conferences several documents of basic importance on the restoration and preservation of historical toponyms were adopted, providing guidelines for naming and renaming geographic objects, etc.

As as result of all this, experts, working out the sections of Udmurt linguistics, also began to turn increasing attention to the development of toponymic studies.

It was in the 60s that such Udmurt scholars as T. I. Teplyashina, G. A. Arkhipov and S. K. Bushmakin had launched a project of the study of Udmurt place names. T. I. Teplyashina, who worked as senior research worker at the Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Moscow for many years, rendered especially great services to modern Udmurt toponymic studies by creating their terminology and methods of lexico-semantic and lexico-morphological analysis.

Over ten of her papers are devoted to the unsettled problems of Udmurt toponymy, such as the hydronyms of Udmurtland (Teplyashina 1965b), the toponyms as well as oikonyms of the Cheptsa basin (1965a, 1967, 1997) in the south and south-west of Udmurtland (1968a, 1969b) and the names of heights (1970a). In a few of her studies the toponymic lexis of the Besermans1 is analysed (1964, 1970b, 1975). The problems of the Russian adaptation of Udmurt toponyms (1968b, 1969c) are also considered.

In one of her papers (1969a) she gives, the topoformant -ым (-им) is given a detailed analysis and she is the first to point out a toponymic element of Ob-Ugric origin in Udmurtland. It has to be noted, however, that this idea has been sharply criticised by some researchers (e.g., Napol’skikh 2001, p. 117).

Discussing the specific features of Udmurt toponyms in another study (1968b), T. I. Teplyashina lists their characteristics as follows:

1. the wide use of the appellatives луд ‘field’, гурт ‘village’, шур ‘river’, вай ‘branch, off-branch’, кар ‘town, site of an ancient town, settlement’, йыл ‘upper reaches (of a river), выр ‘hill’, etc.;

2. the presence of two or three names of inhabited settlements (official and native Udmurt) used simultaneously;

3. the frequent occurrence of names formed with the Russian suffixes -ов, -ев, -ин or Russian plural markers;

4. the general occurrence of toponyms containing tribal names (воршудно-родовые имена) in their structure around whole Udmurtland.2

S. K. Bushmakin’s research is also of great significance. Holding the post of research worker at the the Central Scientific Institute of Geodesy, Air Photography and Cartography in Moscow, he wrote a number of studies on the problems of how Udmurt tribal names were reflected in toponyms (Bushmakin 1969a, pp. 166–176, 1970, pp. 168–176, 1987). In the Appendix to his PhD dissertation (1971b) and some of his papers (1982, 1989a) there are valuable data of how the settlements of the Sharkan and Yakshur-Bodyja districts had emerged. He has also investigated Udmurt, Komi and Finno-Ugric orographic (1969b, 1969c, 1981a) and hydronymic terms (1981b, 1990), and Udmurt and Komi oronyms (1981a). Relying on toponymic data, he has pointed out the connections of the Udmurt language with others (1977), has analysed double (or multiple) denominations of Udmurt settlements (1971a) and has examined the problems of phonetic and morphological adaptation of Udmurt toponyms by Russian (1985), as well as their structural types (1986) and the specific feaures of late toponyms (1989b). He has edited “Словарь географических названий Удмуртской АССР” (The Dictionary of Geographical Names of the Udmurt ASSR; 1980), which includes the names of settlements printed in the reference book “Удмуртская АССР. Административно-терри­тори­аль­ное деление” (The Udmurt ASSR, its administrative and territorial division; 1972). Several of these are given not only in their official forms but also in their local variants. The names of railways stations, rivers and lakes and a few other geographical objects are also fixed. The purpose of this edition, as laid down by the author, is to ascertain a unified spelling of Udmurt geographical names in all printed material to come out in the Soviet Union (Bushmakin 1980, p. 3). It is to be pitied that no etymological information is added to the entries.

Since the 70s the Udmurt Scientific Research Institute (recently renamed as the Udmurt Institute of History, Language and Literature of the Ural Section of the Russian Academy of Arts and Sciences) has been one of the leading centres of Udmurt toponymic research. G. A. Arkhipov, later joined by M. G. Atamanov, L. Y. Kirillova (Zvereva) and M. A. Samarova (now on the staff of Udmurt University) began to work on questions of toponymy. Research in onomastics was made a special issue in the linguistics programme of the Institute and a team was set up for the study of its most important problems. Three volumes published by the Institute and entitled “Микротопонимы удмуртов и их отражение в топонимии” (Udmurt Microtoponyms and Their Reflection in Toponymy; 1980), “Вопросы удмурт­ской диалектологии и ономастики” (Questions of Udmurt Dialectology and Onomastics; 1983) and “Вопросы финно-угорской ономастики” (Questions of Finno-Ugric Onomastics; 1989) can be regarded as milestones in the research of Udmurt geographical names.

In his studies G. A. Arkhipov is concerned with the reflection of Udmurt personal names in Udmurt toponymy (1968) and the problems of reconstructing the genuine vernacular forms of toponyms (1989a). He also sets the tasks that are of primary importance for Udmurt toponymy in particular and onomastics in general (1977). Parallel denominations of settlements (1989b) and toponyms of Komi origin in the present-day habitat of Udmurts are also dealt with (1989c). In his paper co-authored by P. I. Morozov microtoponyms are analysed as sources for the disclosure of Udmurt heathen names (Arkhipov—Morozov 1970).

A valuable contribution to the development of Udmurt onomastics has been made by M. G. Atamanov, senior research worker of the Institute of Linguistics and clergyman since 1990, who is engaged in problems of toponymy. It was in Tartu (Estonia), 1978, that he had successfully defended his PhD dissertation, supervised by member of the Academy Paul Ariste, under the title “Этнонимы удмуртов в топонимии” (Ethnonyms of Udmurts in Toponymy; 1978b). In 1996 he submitted an extensive piece of research as a DSc dissertation, entitled “Топонимические пласты Камско-Вятского междуречья в контексте формирования этнической территории уд­мур­тов” (Toponymic Layers in the Area between the Rivers Kama and Vyatka in the Context of the Formation of the Udmurts’ Ethnic Territory; Yoshkar-Ola). He has written about 50 studies altogether, half of which are on toponyms and microtoponyms. The circle of topics the author is interested in is very wide and varied. He touches upon the reflection of tribal names in toponymy and microtoponymy (1975a, 1975b, 1977, 1980) and problems of Udmurt ethnogenesis (1987e, 1992). He also analyses names of various settlements (1978a), the hydronym Kama (1988a, 1989a), different appellatives (1984, 1986, 1987a) and topoformants (1987d). He points out the historical layers in the toponymy of Udmurtland and beyond its borders (1983, 1987b, 1987c, 1989a, 1989c, 1990a). His monograph “Удмуртская ономастика” (Udmurt Onomastics; 1988b) is of enormous significance. In it the different systems of Udmurt proper names (ethnonyms, toponyms and anthroponyms) are given a complex analysis and the work is made complete with a short historico-etymological dictionary of the geographical names of Udmurtland. Another outstanding work by the same author is “Удмурт нимбугор” (A Dictionary of Udmurt Personal Names; 1990b), comprising about 6800 names. It can also be put to use for the decoding of oikonyms as several settlements were named after first immigrants. The third monograph “История Удмуртии в геог­ра­фических названиях” (The History of Udmurtland in Geographical Names; Izhevsk 1997) is also noteworthy. In this volume such complex problems as the primordial habitat of the Udmurts, the historical layers of Udmurt toponyms and their occurrence beyond the borders of Udmurtland are treated on the basis of a rich material taken from linguistics, history, archeology, ethnography, geography and folklore studies. What also makes this book an inappreciable contribution to Udmurt studies is the presentation of toponymic legends and a short historico-etymological dictionary of place names. In the next monograph “По следам удмуртских воршу­дов” (Tracing the Udmurt Tribes; Izhevsk 2001) the author gives a detailed analysis of the tribal organisation of the Udmurts — a unique phenomenon in the Finno-Ugric world. He has detected the traces of 70 tribal groups going back to the epoch of matriarchate and described their reflection in the names of towns, settlements, streets, ancient town and village sites, grave-yards as well as in those of rivers, hills, fields, woods and other geographical objects.

Senior research worker of the Institute, L. Y. Kirillova (Zvereva) has been engaged in Udmurt toponymic studies since the late 70s. In her papers she analyses different lexico-semantic (1989, 1990a, 1990b, 1992d) and structural (1990, 1999b) types of Udmurt microtoponyms as well as appellatives used in toponyms and microtoponyms (1979, 1983a, 1991b). The dialectal features of the latter are also described (2000a, 2000c). She has published descriptions of the names of Udmurt settlements (1982, 1994, 1996) and raised the question of their regularisation (2000b), protection and reconstruction of their native forms (1991a, 1992a). She has written about the history of Udmurt toponyms (1983b, 1987) and examined toponyms in works of fiction (1993). Names of water springs and their reflections in Perm oikonymy (1996), tree names as points of orientation (1992c) and names of herbacious plants in the structure of microtoponyms (1999a) are issues that have all been addressed.

L. Y. Kirillova initiated a frontal study of Udmurt microtoponyms of the Vala river basin among others. The method used was field research with a questionnaire made particularly for this purpose. Based on this, the author published her monograph “Микротопонимия бас­сей­на Валы (в типо­ло­гическом освещении)” (The Microtoponymy of the Vala Basin [from a typological point of view]; 1992b), where the lexico-semantic and structural types of microtoponyms collected in 80 settlements of the Vavozh, Mozhga and Uva districts are described and contrasted with the geographical names of other regions of Udmurtland. A special stress is laid on the role of appellative lexis in the formation of toponyms and microtoponyms.

The same author’s second monograph, which is published now (Izhevsk 2002) and is to bear the title “Микротопонимия бассейна Кильмези” (The Microtoponyms of the Kil’mezi Basin), is based on the rich material collected in field work and archives and covers 134 settlements of the north-west of Udmurtland (the Igra, Krasnogorje, Syelty, Syumsi and Yakshur-Bodyja districts). The names of geographical objects are presented in it as a dictionary of microtoponyms and are given a lexico-semantic and word-formational analysis.

Of the studies produced by other members of the Institute, those written by L. L. Karpova, senior research worker, deserve special attention. They are mostly devoted to the lexico-semantic description of microtoponyms to be found in the north of Udmurtland, in the Middle Cheptsa basin (1999, 2000).

Before the late 70s the collection of toponyms was a secondary by-product of expeditions which mainly targeted data of dialects, folklore and ethnography. It was only from the beginning of the 80s that researchers had begun to arrange special tours for the collection of geographical names and, since the early 90s, extensive and organised field research in toponyms has been going on in various regions of Udmurtland. It is research workers of the Udmurt Institute of History, Linguistics and Literature, and students and academics of Udmurt State University that have carried out a systematic inves­tigation of settlements situated in the basins of the rivers Vala, Kil’mez’, Cheptsa and Izh.

The expedition of 1997 explored the northern provinces of Udmurtland. Researchers of the Udmurt Institute of History, Linguistics and Literature of the Ural Section of the Russian Academy, with some of the academic faculty and students of the Glazov Teacher Training College collecting rich toponymic material in 30 settlements of the Glazov, Krasnogorye, Yukamensk and Yar districts.

The toponymic expeditions of recent years have been designed to gather the geographical names in the basin of the river Izh and to produce a “Топони­мичес­кий словарь Удмуртии” (Toponymic Dictionary of Udmurtland). The expeditions have rendered enough material for a card index of regional toponyms and anthroponyms.

The 1st All-Republic competition in the collection of geographical names, initiated by the Orthographic Commission of Scientific Terms, has also presented interesting material from various settlements of Udmurtland. All the material is kept in the archives of the Udmurt Institute of History, Linguistics and Literature of the Ural Section of the Russian Academy and is gradually put into scientific circulation. It has significantly enriched the regional toponymic card index of the institute’s linguistics section.

Another centre of toponymic studies, second in importance after the Udmurt Institute of History, Linguistics and Literature of the Ural Section of the Russian Academy, is Udmurt State University. They have been firmly established in the curriculum of this institution as a topic of instruction and research. In this respect special attention is to be paid to the Udmurt section of the arts faculty (now called the faculty of Udmurt studies), where students have been given lecture courses in Udmurt onomastics since the 70s and they themselves have produced essays and theses in the topic, which represent important sources for the enlargement of the regional card index of toponyms and their subsequent circulation. The faculty organises study tours to explore dialects and toponyms. Students of the Faculty of Geography and History are also trained in toponymy.

A teacher at the Department of Russian, L. V. Vakhrusheva had dealt with questions of toponymy for a relatively short time. In her studies, which are not numerous either, she is mainly concerned with the toponyms of the Izh basin in the Udmurt territory, which was also the main object of her PhD dissertation, defended in 1979 (1978, 1979). In the dissertation as well as in her papers settlement names are examined and their Russian, Udmurt and Turkic layers are pointed out (1974a, 1980, 1983, 1986). Russian-Udmurt language contacts are also treated in 1974b, 1976, 1982. Co-au­thoring with N. S. Kachalina, she analyses the oikonyms of the Sarapul district of Udmurtland (1976) and the microtoponyms of Izhevsk (1977). It is to be regretted that many of her studies are just descriptive by nature and the card index that contains the material collected by her is not accessible to Udmurt scholars.

M. A. Samarova, teacher at the Department of General and Finno-Ugric Linguistics, has been engaged in toponymic studies since the 90s. She began to work in this area at the Udmurt Institute of History, Linguistics and Literature of the Ural Section of the Russian Academy, then she became more specifically interested in the toponyms of Upper Cheptsa. In her papers she examines geographical names in connection with heathen rites (1992), microtoponyms with an evaluative meaning (1994), appellatives of various categories (1997, 2000a), proper names as individual designations (1999c), and the history and the name of the village Sharkan (2000b). The enormous corpus of toponymic material collected by the author in the north-east of Udmurtland (Igra, Debes, Sharkan and Yakshur-Bodyja districts) made it possible for her to defend her PhD dissertation entitled “Микротопонимия Верхней Чепцы” (Microtoponymy of the Upper Cheptsa Region; 1999a, 1999b). In the work the names of minor geographical objects taken from 208 settlements of the area are given a semantic and structural analysis. The dissertation can be considered as the continuation of the extensive topic “Топо­нимия Удмуртии” (The toponyms of Udmurtland), initiated by L. Y. Ki­ril­lova.

The following authors and papers deserve special attention: I. V. Tara­ka­nov (1997, 1998a, 1998b) on hydronyms, a rather complex layer of Udmurt toponyms; R. Sh. Nasibullin (1973) on Udmurt village names in Bashkirland; R. P. Lesnikova and Z. M. Merkulova on the appellatives used in the names of Udmurt settlements (1966); B. I. Karakulov on various oikonyms (1979). L. I. Kalinina (1967) published a very interesting analysis of the geographical term тор and its variants, pointing out its parallel in Udmurt шур, rather widespread in Udmurt toponymy.

Considering the history of Udmurt toponymic studies it seems to be inevitable to touch upon research in Finno-Ugric toponyms, to which they are immediately related. In the authors’ works to be listed, great attention is paid to the linguistic analysis of Old Uralic and Old Perm toponyms, mainly hydronyms and oikonyms. These are studies by B. A. Serebrennikov (1955, 1967, 1970); V. A. Nikonov (1960, 1968, 1969); A. K. Matveev (1959, 1961a, 1961b, 1964, 1965, 1980, 1989); V. I. Lytkin (1966, 1971); V. A. Lyashev (1987); V. A. Oborin (1976); P. N. Tretyakov (1958); A. S. Krivoshchekova-Gantman (1973, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1983); A. P. Afanasyev (1987); M. R. Fedotov (1970); I. S. Galkin (1965, 1987a, 1987b, 1991); F. G. Garipova (1991), F. I. Gordeev (1985, 1989, 1990); L. Sh. Arslanov (1987, 1991, 1992, 1993a, 1993b, 1995, 1996, 2000a, 2000b), etc. O. V. Vostrikov’s research (1987a, 1987b) in Udmurt toponyms of the Perm and Sverdlovsk provinces and A. N. Kuklin’s papers (1987, 1989, 1992, 1998, 1999, 2000) on the Udmurt and Perm elements in Mari oikonyms are also noteworthy. Mari-Udmurt contacts as reflected in toponyms are treated by V. I. Vershinin (1987, 1990). A. M. Mezenko deals with the principles of naming streets in Vitebsk and Izhevsk (1987).

Over the past few years new methods of research, such as cartography, linguistic geography and statistics, have been applied by Udmurt scholars (M. G. Atamanov, L. Y. Kirillova, M. A. Samarova). In Udmurt toponymic studies new names have emerged. Historians, ethnographists, geographers and biologists have also repeatedly turned to toponymic problems. L. A. Volkova’s (1999) achievements in the research of the Udmurts’ cultic toponyms are especially noteworthy in this respect. L. D. Makarov’s (2000), A. I. Pudov’s (2000) and G. G. Kuzyakhmetov’s (2001) studies also deserve attention.

In his book “История увинских деревень” (The History of Uva Villages; 2000) A. I. Pudov traces the history of the settlements and formation of existing and extinct villages in the Uva Province of Udmurtland, giving the etymologies of their names, as well as their demographic characteristics.

The growth in quality and quantity of toponymic studies in the past decade has been determined by their nationwide development in the previous periods in general and by the growing interest in Udmurt toponymic studies in particular. Despite the remarkable achievements, however, several problems remain to be solved in the near future. It seems to be essential to prepare the publication of a toponymic dictionary and toponymic atlas of Udmurtland, a new directory of settlement names, where their national forms and eventual renaming, the changes in their administrative distribution, orthography and adaptation are also indicated. Researchers are also to face the enormous task of collecting and studying all the toponyms and microtoponyms in Udmurtland as well as in regions with Udmurt population in other republics. At present the study of Udmurt toponyms is but fragmentary. In the basins of the rivers Vala, Kil’mezi, Upper Cheptsa and Izh geographical names are more or less fully covered, whereas in other regions they are insufficiently described, if at all. Therefore it is vital to create the theoretical foundations for the investigation of Udmurt toponyms, which should include the typology of toponyms, their lexico-semantic and structural-derivational classification, a unified terminology and an attempt to point out the internal trends of development of Udmurt itself as reflected in toponyms. Comparison with toponyms in other Finno-Ugric languages should also remain a task of primary importance.

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