Toponyms: Neglected wallflower or pot of plenty

Ronald P Schaefer


Threats of imminent extinction motivate language documentation; they also allow place name neglect. This paper examines settlement names within Africa’s Edoid group. Village nomenclature converges on a restricted range of conventions; however, interethnic contact has led to non-Edoid toponyms for three villages. Two derive from the trade language Hausa. A third links to Igbo blacksmiths supporting rainforest penetration with iron tools, as is evident in cognate vocabulary. Iron use most naturally follows a pastoral era outside the rainforest, which number prefixes on herd-animal nouns support. Toponymic studies thus remind us of the benefit accrued when documentation looks beyond “the single ancestral code.”


toponyms; Edoid; West Africa

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Copyright (c) 2017 Ronald P Schaefer

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