Place-Name Changes in Europe-Between
Europe-Between refers to the
region containing mostly small states falling between two great powers,
Russia and Germany. This area, stretching from Finland to Greece and from
the Czech Republic to the Ukraine, has seen a competition between three expansionist
and one declining empire during the last two yearhundreds. As a result of
this conflict the independence of the states of Europe-Between was more often
the exception than the rule.
Due to the lack of stable nation-state
borders, the authority of states has been subject to sudden changes in the
region since the 19th century. This fact, added to the great ethnic variety
witnessed, has meant that local place-names have often been changed and that
navigating oneself around these changes is not an easy task. This is especially
so because the Latin, Cyrillic and Greek alphabets have all been used in the
region. Therefore we need a dictionary with which one can identify all name
changes of important localities. Up till now researchers have not edited an
adequately detailed dictionary which covers the whole region.
A catalogue of the place-name
changes is useful not only for identifying localities but also sheds light
on some historical aspects. Firstly, I examined what was the meaning of the
official name. What I found was that until the second half of the 19th century
names could only be considered official in part. Prior to this, the names
came into being, were changed or disappeared spontaneously. It is from the
turn of the century that we witness a desire to systematise names, partially
as a result of the increasing rail and postal traffic.
Pre-official place-name changes
can be studied linguistically, using the science of onomatology. From a historic
perspective it is the official changes of place-names which are of more importance.
Such changes can be categorised as follows:
Change of the name as a result
of a territorial swap (a change in the official language)
Change of the name for political
Naming a locality after an individual
Name changes as a result of indirect
causes (unification or division of settlements, giving differential names
to localities with the same name, etc.)
Dual official naming (in the event
of ethnic regional autonomy)
Name changes due to territorial changes
This is the most common cause
of official name changes, and therefore it is the most often cited case in
the dictionary. Even at the border changes of the 19th century, names —
before they were even official — appear with dates in the dictionary.
It was necessary to illustrate every significant territorial change in the
region since 1763; this is how the dates appearing in the dictionary could
be figured out precisely (cf. appendix I and attached maps). These maps often
depict a conquest which lasted for less than a year. In relation to the dates
there were, of course, many difficulties. For example, the Balkan states won
their independence step by step, as a result of a lengthy process. Difficulties
were caused by the question of that one should pay attention to the years
of the occupations or to the years of annexations. Some states already occupied
by foreign armies annexed their neighbours' land. After the end of WWI, until
the peace treaties were signed, there was a period of great uncertainty lasting
for some years. Lastly, in the non-Russian republics of the Soviet Union,
the local name was theoretically the official one, although the whole world
used the Russian names. In some areas the name changes were small in number,
mostly in areas of ethnic homogeneity, which were farther from the areas where
the great powers were active (for example, Western Galicia, the Alföld, Wallachia,
Central Serbia and Bosnia).
A special type of these territorial
changes is the division of cities between two countries. These cases were
caused mostly for strategic rather than ethnic reasons, e.g. for creating
borderlines along rivers or railways. The dictionary contains 14 divisions
of this kind, of which one was temporary. Most cities were cut into two in
1919—20, but also many in 1945 (especially
at the Oder-Neisse boundary of Poland).
Politically motivated name changes
The ideological and political
value of the place-names increased very much after the official naming of
localities. Nations generally thought that if they controlled the name of
a place, they also had the right to control the place itself. In many cases
they worked out meanings in their own languages to those place-names which
were alien to their ears; either by translation, or by distorting (etymologising)
the foreign form of the name. This is more apparent in those areas where this
method was used without having any ethnic justification for doing so. In such
cases, the transmogrification of names was a simple attempt to shelter a conquest
(Russia in the Königsberg region, Greece in Macedonia, etc.). But after a
lengthy historical and/or ethnic presence in such an area, significant traces
of foreign-sounding names can often be found there which were almost, without
exception, renamed in the 20th century (e.g. in the ethnic regions of historical
Hungary, in the German areas of Silesia and Eastern Prussia, in Transylvania
under the Romanian rule, in the “returned regions” of Poland after 1945, and
instead of the long-forgotten original Bulgarian names, the “cyrillicised”
Turkish names were replaced by newly created Bulgarian names, etc.). In the
USSR it was not only names which were created but also whole peoples — in order to alienate residents of
the conquered regions from their motherlands. These artificial peoples (the
Karelians and Moldavians) of course also received their own new and official
Naming after individuals
Naming localities after famous
people is not a new occurrence. However, in the era of official naming, this
process rather expanded receiving an ideological loading also. It was primarily
favoured in dictatorial regimes, e.g. in the Nazi Germany, in the communist
states after 1945 and especially in the USSR. Practically every communist
country had a heavily-industrialised town named after Stalin (note that “stal”
is the Russian word for steel). The powers-that-be resisted naming towns after
local communist leaders only in Hungary and Poland. Usually there was absolutely
no connection between the person supplying the name and the actual town or
city. Another variation of this communist naming was the proliferation of
words such as “Red” or “May 1st”, and the eradication of the prefix “Saint”.
Naming localities after individuals
was a tool which greatly assisted those who were rechristening for ideological
or political reasons, especially once they had run out of new ideas. For
example, Slovakia executed a mass-renaming of cities with Hungarian majority,
giving many of them names of Slovakian persons. In a similar fashion, several
cities or towns were renamed after the same person in Bulgaria and Romania,
already at the beginning of the 20th century. Interestingly, the practice
of naming localities after individuals varies significantly between peoples
in Europe-Between. This phenomenon is most abundant in Romania and the countries
using Cyrillic alphabets.
Users' guide to the Dictionary
Arrangement of word articles
The dictionary cites the names
of more than 4,000 settlements, in approximately 11,000 name variations. Today’s
official names appear in bold letters as independent word articles. Among
these one will find certain names which are not independent localities today,
but instead have been attached to larger cities. However, due to their importance
it is necessary to mention them. The footnotes always mention such cases.
After today’s official name one can read the abbreviation for the country
in which the locality can be found today.
The name changes of the city
or community can be found in the same paragraph marked by indentation. If
these other names were official, I indicated the dates of it. The large bulk
of the dictionary is of this kind, containing name changes caused by territorial
changes. In these cases the abbreviation found before the dates does not apply
to the language but to the country and is therefore in capital letters. The
mini-states existed ever in the region have received their own special abbreviation
or are detailed in the footnotes. Other names occur without dates, e.g. the
name used by the minority living in the locality, etc. Here the abbreviations
are not capitalised since they apply to a language and not a state. All name
changes occur as cross-references in the dictionary. The cross-references
are not indented and the current name is once again printed in bold type.
Cyrillic and Greek names are also listed at the end of the dictionary in a
Earlier official names are listed
chronologically, except where a former name is in today’s official language.
Old names for which there are no language abbreviations denote they are in
today's official language. All old names are marked by a cross (†).
Place-names are listed in the
order of today’s official name. The alphabetical order follows international
1. For those localities where
the name has two or more parts, I have taken account of each part when placing
them into order. E.g. Novigrad is before Novi Kneževac.
2. Hungarian double letters (cs,
ly, ny, sz, ty, zs) do not represent separate units but are included in the
normal alphabetic order as their parts do. E.g. cs is to be found between
cr and ct.
3. This applies to all double
letters found in other languages (e.g. the Czech and Slovak ch, although in
the national alphabet occurs after h, in this dictionary is to be found between
cg and ci; the Southern Slav lj, nj and the Albanian sh are all listed as
their parts also, etc.). For obvious reasons, the German ß is treated “ss”.
4. When it comes to accented
letters, only the base letter is considered. Therefore the alphabetical order
is the following: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z.
5. If two words differ solely
in accents then that word with the accent comes later. If both words carry
accents, the word with “rear” accenting is found before the word with “forward”
accenting. Lastly if the accent is found in both words at exactly the same
point then it is the type of the accent which decides the order, as determined
by the occurrence of vowel- or consonant-related diacritical symbols. A:
a á ă â ā ä å ą.
C: c č ć ç. D: d ď đ. E: e ė é è ě ē ë ę. G: g ğ ģ.
I: ı i í î ī ï į. K: k ķ. L: l ľ ł ļ. N: n
ň ń ņ.
O: o ó ô õ ō ö ő. R: r ř ŗ. S: s š ś ş. T: t ť ţ. U: u
ú ü ű ū ů ų. Y: y ý. Z: z ž ź ż.
6. When it comes to Cyrillic
and Greek letters all letters are treated as separate characters. The order
for the Cyrillic alphabet is: а б в
г д ђ е ё є ж з ѕ и
і ї й ј к ќ л љ м н
њ о п р с т ћ у ў ф
х ц ч џ ш щ ъ ы ь э
A görög betűk abc-rendje: a b g d e z h q i k l m n x o p r
s (V) t u j c y w.
7. The Cyrillic transliterative symbols for soft and hard pronunciation (one or
two apostrophes) are ignored when it comes to ordering. If the word articles
differ only in apostrophes then it is the word with the apostrophe which is
placed further back.