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date: 29 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Settlement names designate areas where people live together in communities. Many are descriptive, defining the settlement in terms of the natural environment, the built environment, or the inhabitants. Others are non-descriptive, defining the settlement by means of an association, often with a historical or legendary event, or with a person: major groups include commemorative names, transferred names, and incident names. Descriptive names tend to predominate in the Indo-European languages; non-descriptive names are characteristic of some non-Indo-European languages, and are also common among the names given by European settlers in the African, American, and Australian continents during the Age of Exploration. Settlement names are highly repetitive, providing large datasets for comparative analysis. For this reason and others, they offer a rich source of evidence for settlement patterns, settlement chronologies, and historical linguistics.

Keywords: settlement names, descriptive names, non-descriptive names, commemorative names, transferred names, incident names, Age of Exploration, settlement patterns, settlement chronologies

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