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Title: Aspects of Violence Reflected in South African Geographical Names
Authors: Meiring, Barbara
Keywords: South African toponymic landscape
linguistic and cultural diversity
descrip- tive and associative meaning
categories of violence
historical conflict
natural disasters
names with positive association
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Department of Dutch and South African Studies, Faculty of English
Citation: Werkwinkel vol. 5(2), 2010, pp. 95-112.
Abstract: The toponymic landscape of any country is a window that reflects the historical, cultural, political and most social variables of society. This article is based on one aspect of society, namely violence, that is detectable in the place names of South Africa. While the country is in the process of building a nation with a diverse collection of building blocks due to the different languages and cultures present in the country, there exists a vast number of place names that directly or indirectly by association not only reflect this diversity, but have the potential to divide and obstruct efforts to obtain the social cohesion necessary to form a South African nation. However, history cannot be erased by the mere changing of a place name to another name which is more acceptable to a certain community. Aspects of violence in names reflect the ordeals and suffering of people who were exposed to wars and other forms of violence like natural disasters and environmental dangers. In this article a few examples are shown to illustrate that toponyms are not meaningless, but are rich in historical data that is often overlooked when the names of these villages, settlements, towns, historical sites, post-offices, etc. are used in everyday communication. The discussion on aspects of violence will finally be contrasted by a short discussion on aspects of peace and well-being also reflected in other South African place names.
ISSN: 1896-3307
Appears in Collections:Werkwinkel, 2010, vol. 5(2)

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