Place Names And Their Importance In Nation’s Cultural Heritage

Place names, like other names, are a vital component of human language. However, they are extensively taken for granted. They do not solely serve to indicate geographical features but can frequently narrate a story. They can provide traces to a past cultural landscape, and an indication of the sequence of human migration and settlement in an area. Names are an indispensable and valuable part of our daily life. They perform a positive influence in conserving and appreciating the culture of the local community, and in enhancing the identity of the people living in the present and the future.

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They are repositories of natural and cultural history and linguistic heritage. In other words, they preserve the heritage of a country. UNGEGN officially declared that geographical names are significant elements of individuals’ cultural heritage necessitating preservation and protection in today’s rapidly growing world.

Toponymy regards the set of place names on a cartographic document, where the cartographer performs a significant role in the creation or preservation of different forms of place names. Toponyms participate in the general communicative function of all human language. They do not only primarily apprise the orientation in space but denounce it with more precision. Beyond their utilitarian purpose of location or orientation in space, they have an undeniable cultural dimension. They carry data about the history and ecology of the area, revealing the components of culture and psychology of the communities in which they emerge.

Heritage research of a place should incorporate both current and historical or misused place names. Various geographical denominations have been adopted and reused in other places. However, they are regarded as historical accounts as they carry data on the background of the name providers, their original homeland, and the emotional ties to where they originated from. Therefore, the place-name is regarded as a window to the past. Hence the goal of investigating the connection between the misuse of the place name and its emotional ties. How can the misuse or misinterpretation of place names cause cultural misunderstandings? What is the effect of place names on cultural heritage?

This work will also attempt to collect most common variants of the Maghreb place names from Hungarian general atlases and school atlases. In the specific case of the Maghreb, it is essential to talk about the bilingual presentation of place names and how it influences the sense of identity. Moreover, it is also of utmost importance to investigate the cultural level of Hungarian map users. And consequently, to increase awareness of the use of the proper place name as an endeavor to preserve the national culture and uphold the local history of communities. An added goal is to examine whether the use of variants (orthographic, semantic, phonetic variants, etc.) affects the perception of heritage and whether people of the Maghreb sufficiently apprehend the significance of their place names. To what extent do the Maghreb people understand their toponymy? How does a name contribute to the meaning and associations of a place?

To sum up, geographical names carry a connection to the nation’s cultural heritage. They store knowledge about the natural and cultural circumstances of the time they were coined and hence serve as a memory of places which function as historical documentation. Moreover, they are part of the local language and history and designate a bond between communities and their environment. This paper asserts that by persevering and adopting the official names assigned to a place, both the cultural heritage of that area and the national identity is maintained and strengthened.

01 February 2021

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