The University of Sussex

Language in the landscape: place-naming and language change

Richard Coates

Text of inaugural professorial lecture. The first theme is place-names as evidence for the changing fortunes of different languages and dialects in the linguistic crucible of the British Isles. Discovering the language of origin of place-names is the nearest we shall get, in most cases, to discovering who actually dunit. The second theme is the difficulty of identifying the weapons and motives: the actual words out of which names were constructed, and their applicability in the contexts in which they were used. The third theme is the contribution that place-names can make to the study of linguistics.

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