Toponyms of Multicultural Environment as a Source of Information about the History of the Development of the Central Yakutia

Abstract : The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) - the largest subject of the Russian Federation, known for its mineral resources, extreme climatic conditions, varied landscapes and living cultures of Indigenous Peoples. As part of the project RNF "Landscape Ontology: Semantics, Semiotics, and Geographic Modeling" (№ 15-18-20047) funded by the Russian Science Foundation, the population of the Khangalassky region was surveyed in order to identify the features of mental representation of the territory. The location being in the middle of the current of the river Lena, large islands, valley and taiga areas contributed to the formation and coexistence of appropriating and producing types of husbandry (cattle breeding, cultivation). The survey revealed a wide range of microtoponyms being used locally, and almost never having been mapped. Etymological, semantic and linguoculturological analysis of the toponyms revealed during the population survey, relying on historical data, helps to distinguish historical stages of settlement and development of the territory. These areas have been inhabited by tribes of hunters and fishermen since the Paleolithic Era. Extant place names reflect expansion of the territory by Tungus, Mongol and Turkic-speaking ethnic groups in the Middle Ages before the times that Yakutia joined the Muscovite State in the 17th century. Since the 18th century here, with the start of operation of the Irkutsk-Yakutsk road, coach (yamschik) stations had been founded and established by Russian settlers. The new population adapted the existing place names. Yakut place names were assimilated into the Russian language with the rules of Russian grammar. The Soviet period, also had an impact on the formation of the names of localities that have emerged in periods of the country’s economic construction. Currently, the population of villages, Edyay and Sinskaya, in which the survey was conducted, are descendants of the coachmen, who possess a kind of double Yakut-Russian identity, characterized by bilingualism, which has unique features (for example, native Yakut place names are transformed into the Russian style, or Russian anthroponomy assimilated place names into the Yakut language obeying the rules of the Yakut language). There is a phenomenon of coexistence of different ethnic communities and interpenetration of cultures and it is reflected in the toponymy of the territory.
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Contributor : Sébastien Gadal <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 23, 2016 - 1:18:51 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - 8:32:08 PM

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Kunnei Pestereva, Marianna Samsonova, Anna Ikonnikova, Sébastien Gadal. Toponyms of Multicultural Environment as a Source of Information about the History of the Development of the Central Yakutia. 3rd International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts SGEM 2016, Aug 2016, Varna, Bulgaria. pp.587-592, ⟨10.5593/SGEMSOCIAL2016/B32/S10.076⟩. ⟨hal-01401146⟩

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