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Names in Competition

A Corpus-based Quantitative Investigation Into the Use of Colonial Place Names

Stefan Engelberg

Pages 387 - 430

Referentially equivalent toponyms occur very often in colonial and postcolonial contexts. These names are in competition, and this competition is reflected in language use and in changing frequencies of use in large corpora. The main theoretical and methodological assumption of this paper is that corpus frequencies of referentially equivalent toponyms change according to particular patterns, and that the Google Ngram Corpora and Google Ngram Viewers can be used to detect these patterns. The aims of this paper are twofold: firstly, a corpus-linguistic method for investigations into the use of names will be presented, applied, and critically evaluated; secondly, it will be shown that the correlation between patterns of frequency changes and patterns of socio-historical colonial and postcolonial events gives rise to cross-linguistic generalizations, for example, that an increase in public interest in a place strongly promotes one of the referentially equivalent names, or that in renaming scenarios colonial toponyms in relation to new toponyms remain in stronger use in the language of the former colonial power than in languages of other colonial powers.


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