‘Nomen est omen’: Official and Unofficial Namings of the Gorizia Territory

Master thesis

Project manager: Anja Škarabot
Project implementation period: 2017-2018

The thesis deals with the official and unofficial toponymy of the city of Gorizia. The latter, that is the unofficial naming of the city, focuses on the Slovenian-speaking community. The Gorizia territory has the characteristics of both a border as well as a transitional area, since various cultures and linguistic communities had contact with one another in this space for centuries. In this area, local toponymy is important because it provides answers to the question of which ethnic (linguistic) communities inhabit this place. The naming of a space is crucial for shaping the identity of the community living there. Therefore, signs carrying names of places, rivers, streets, etc. are of the utmost importance, as the group living in a particular space uses them to mark their settlement area which is a way of exercising their power over the space. In the past, the toponyms used reflected certain characteristics of that time, and their meaning was derived either from the natural characteristics of the place or from the historical and cultural development of the community that inhabited the area. Today, the names of streets and other names help create a single collective memory in a certain space, as they have become instruments of a particular nation state. This is also evident in the case of Gorizia, where the authorities – Austrian before the First World War and the Italian after it – symbolically conquered the space by instituting the usage of different place names. The field research conducted shows people’s current knowledge of unofficial Slovenian names in the city centre of Gorizia, Podgora, Pevma, Oslavje, Štmaver and Štandrež which have all been transmitted from generation to generation among the members of the Slovene minority in Italy.

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