Folk Etymology As Means Of Representation Of Ethnos Background Knowledge


The article proposes a model of a complex description of folk etymology as a means of representation of background knowledge of an ethnos. The material was oeconyms of Stavropol Krai. An oeconym is the research subject of ethnolinguistics. Ethnolinguistics is a scientific field that has played an important role in the formation of the anthropological paradigm in linguistics. N.I. Tolstoy distinguished two types of ethnolinguistics – “narrow” and “broad”. The narrow ethnolinguistics studies the relationship of language and spiritual culture, language and folk mentality. The broad ethnolinguistics studies the whole plane of a culture content, folk psychology and mythology. National-cultural and ethno-linguistic information is most fully and vividly manifested in proper geographical names. They are the key to the spiritual and material culture of an ethnos and to the axiological potential of a name, which is common among people. The Russian toponymy of Stavropol Krai is the text of culture, historical and cultural biography of the study region. As a result of the study, two large groups of oeconyms were identified: cultural-historical and natural-geographical names. The first group includes oeconyms, nominations of which go back to the personal naming of residents and owners of villages. The second group consists of natural-geographical names, which reflect a connection with natural conditions, a location of the settlement, flora and fauna. The approach solves problems of a toponymic space formation, an establishment of principles for the nomination of oeconyms, an identification of a role and functions of proper names in ethno-linguistics.

Keywords: Ethnolinguisticstoponymyproper namefolk etymology


The conceptual understanding of features of a national culture pays attention to cultural genesis elements of people and components of a regional ethnocultural consciousness. As concerns an ethnocultural consciousness, a part of an ethnic group that lives for a long time in a separate territory has it. Although ethnic identity prevails in the development of folk culture, ethnic exchange allows isolate the ethno-linguistic potential of proper names. The adaptation of individual cultural and community traditions, their transformation and evolution due to a close interaction with the folk culture of the Caucasians and the community culture of the Turkic nomads (Nogais, Kalmyks, Turkmens) raise the issue of the comparative typological characterization of ethnocultural processes in Stavropol Krai in past and present.

Ethno-linguistic aspects in the study of onomasticon are correlated with the uniqueness of a national-cultural embodiment in the language. The main problem is the relationship between language and culture.

The study of ethnocultural features marked in the language and showed up in speech is conducted in culture-oriented linguistics (Teliia, 1996), in ethno-linguistics (Berezovich, 2007; Gerd, 2005); ethno-psycholinguistics (Tolstoy, 1995, etc.).

One of the leading research directions in the theory of proper name is formation principles of toponymic space, taking into account an ethnocultural aspect.

Problem Statement

Ethnolinguistics is a scientific field that has played an important role in the formation of the anthropological paradigm in linguistics. Nowadays there is no common understanding of the term ethnolinguistics. In the article, ethnolinguistics is understood as a science that studies an ethnocultural information about the world, which has a linguistic markedness and covers basic parameters of a world model (time, space, culture, values, etc.).

Toponyms are important for a deep insight into the historical-philosophical and socio-cultural essence of each geographical name. A reveal of approach features to the selection of oeconyms nominations and their analysis contribute to the understanding of implicit meanings contained in them.

The analysis of a toponymic space of a certain territory is a special type of linguistic research, in which the potential embedded in toponyms is revealed, the intuitively perceived associative links and peripheral values are updated. Almost every onomastic name is based on a historical reality, which through various extralinguistic factors creates a specific range of diverse associations (Kovalev, 2009). According to current data, the results “previously obtained were not always correct, because the analysis was not carried out without a system. Each toponym should be considered in the context of the geographical names surrounding it. The absence of such an approach is primarily explained by the insignificance of the field material” (Musanov, 2017, p. 124).

Research Questions

It is necessary to understand the role of proper names in the construction of a toponymic space of a territory in a multidimensional study of their unique capabilities for the expression of philosophical, cultural, historical meanings that contribute to a more accurate interpretation of the analyzed names.

Proper names that form a toponymic space are functionally significant in the nominative, ontological, axiological, spiritual aspects. Therefore, the study of folk etymology as a means of representation of ethnos background knowledge needs to research lexical semantics and a model of toponyms semantics, to extract cultural meanings from the names of oeconyms, to apply a thematic classification of toponyms and semantic relations between them.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to describe the composition and sources of the toponym formation of secondary settlement places, characterize their structure and semantics, consider the principles for the nomination of different types of toponyms. The results of the study allow solve the problems of the formation of a toponymic space of a certain territory and their connection with history and culture of an ethnic group.

Research Methods

In modern onomastics, the object and subject of research are clearly defined. The terminological apparatus and the classification of onyms were developed according to the denotation; the historical processes that have taken place in the diachronic of the Russian language are described; the processes of formation of proper names and their role in the structure of the text are described. Such a wide range of problems facing onomastics has made conditions to the emergence of methods for analyzing an onomastic space.

The structural method focuses on the search for an internal organization of an onomasticon, which thereby adopts contours of an ordered whole, a system and a structure.

The study of semantics of toponyms in an ethnocultural perspective occurs in two ways: vertical and horizontal. The vertical direction is formed by the hierarchy of semantic layers: from explicit layers implemented in a given language fact to implicit layers. Therefore, the vertical study suggests the unfolding of a semantic perspective from a semem to a semantic field.

The horizontal direction is optional: a name with special cultural significance expands its semantic base and begins to be used to characterize a wider range of phenomena of reality.


A reference to ethno-linguistic aspects of the study of onomasticon is associated with the uniqueness of a national-cultural embodiment in the language. In this regard, the main problem raised in the process of ethno-linguistic research is the relationship between language and culture.

Berezovich (2007) notes: “The first effective steps in the ethno-linguistic study of proper names turned out to be naturally connected with the “onomasticon of culture”. It is integrated into its folklore and ritual codes that create special conditions for the transmission of ethno-cultural information (p. 88).

Ethnolinguistics is not a purely linguistic discipline. It closely interacts with ethnography and cultural studies in a general object of study (a culture of an ethnos) and linguistics in a common subject (a language of an ethnos and culture). “Ethnolinguistics does not describe phonemes, morphemes, sentences. It does not reveal new patterns in a language. In ethnolinguistics, categories and facts of a language ... are used as a means for a deeper insight into self-ethnic problems” (Gerd, 2005, p. 34). The representation of the relationship between a language and a national culture remains high in modern linguistics. It is expressed by the language of human sociocultural activities and cultural value markers. “An adequate interpretation of the “cultural code” in national culture categories, dating back to national, cultural values, is the most complicated cultural and language competence” (Teliia, 1996, p. 29), the formation of which is one of the tasks in ethnolinguistics. One of the problems of that order is the naming of representatives of various ethnic groups. Naming is one of the dominant anthroponymic acts: it gives the status of the individual to child.

When examining the specifics of toponyms as special linguistic units, it should be noted that “the focus of attention is not just the designation of the object, the person in the form of its name, but the linguistic designation reflected in the linguistic consciousness and fixed in the thinking of reality. To give a name to something is not only to present a specific subject or object through a verbal sign, but to make it knowledgeable in linguistic consciousness” (Shcherbak, 2007, p. 41).

Slavic folk anthroponymy experienced the strongest influence of Christian culture in names and their use peculiarities. However, features of pagan worldview for naming are largely preserved. The onomastikon of people differs from the canonical, ecclesiastical one in composition (many “popular”, “appellative” and “meaningful” names), in form (a large number of diminutive caress), in structure (a lot of personal, baptismal, home and family names) and in geographic diversity (a landscape fixation of individual names and types of their naming). In terms of language, ethnocultural sings are represented in individual roots, lexemes, combinations of lexemes that reveal horizontal and vertical communications (from intragenerational ties to intergenerational ties). The broadcasting of popular culture takes place by the form of preferred onyms.

Ethnolinguistic studies use methods presented in history, folklore studies, mythology, and dialectology. So, Tlekhas (2004) in the work “Istoriko-etnograficheskii analiz familnykh legend i prozvishch” [Historical and Ethnographic Analysis of Family Legends and Nicknames] notes that legends and traditions about the origin of Circassian surnames are valuable material for historical ethnography to reconstruct very ancient social forms and relationships.

Modern ethnolinguistics studies the following problems:

– a proper name as a social and national sign, consisting in the ethnolinguistic interpretation of the proper name;

– a definition of historical and cultural biography;

– a reflection of spiritual culture of an ethnic group in a toponym;

– basic knowledge about a proper name, associations “objectifying the living consciousness of members of an ethnoculturallinguistic community”, associations “conditioned by national culture and representing the sum of past speech and contextual definitions within the linguistic group” (Teliia, 1996, p. 48).

According to Tolstoy (1995), “ethno- and sociolinguistics can be regarded as two main components of one more general discipline. The first takes into account, first of all, specific ethnos features, the second – social structure features of a specific ethnos (society) at a later stage of development, applied to language processes, phenomena and structures” (p. 83).

The national identity of the name cannot be revealed without national culture origins. It is inextricably linked with traditions and customs, pagan ideas of peasants about nature. In other words, it is reflected in the anthropomorphic view of the world. A collective carrier of linguistic consciousness, whose ideological foundations are based on a mythological basis or on the material of legends, related to the settlement of the Pre-Caucasus during or after the Caucasian wars.

Oeconymy is the collection of settlement names of a certain territory. It reflects the most important stages in the development of the people’s material and spiritual culture. The oeconyms provide information not only of the address plan, but, more importantly, of cultural and historical often based on mythological representation of an ethnos.

It is known that Stavropol is a region of the secondary settlement that had been occurring during and after the Caucasian wars in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was the famous local historian V.G. Gnilovskaia who started studying the toponymy of the city of Stavropol in the second half of the 20th century. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the role of legends in the formation of toponymic space in Stavropol: “Creating or reinterpreting the name of geographical reality in connection with a legend, the bearer of the tradition is influenced by the language having its own unique features within each local linguocultural community” (Berezovich, 2007, p. 64).

In 1722 Peter the Great founded the fortress of Stavropol in the mouth of the Sulak River in Dagestan. The name represented the tradition of the 18th century to name new settlements with Greek words and the Russified element “pol” from the Greek polis (city). According to legend, the history of the name has two versions:

1) Stavropol was situated on the area where a Greek city and port with the same name had been before;

2) Peter the Great, intending to establish a fortress on Sulak, marked the place with a cross, which later served as the basis for the name of the fortress.

The fortress was called the Holy Cross. Subsequently, it was destroyed because of a bad climate, constant raids of hill people as well as the “pestilence” that occurred in 1727.

Later, according to another legend, Prince G. A. Potemkin proposed this name for another fortress of the Azovo-Mozdokskaia defensive line. As a result, the name of the city is associated with several legends.

The legends became the basis of the names of some city areas. For example, the name of the Osetinka is associated with the Ossetians attached to the first Sunzhensko-Vladikavkazskii regiment of the Terek Cossack Army. Of these, the Ossetians formed the Ossetian Equestrian Division. Their ch training sessions took place in a large glade, which has been called as Osetinskaia. This picturesque area between the Tamanskii and Kruglyi forests over time became the site of competitions, holidays, and demonstrations. In the beginning of the 1950s, the authorities of Stavropol planned the construction of the residential district “Osetinka”. In the 1960s the development of the area was already massive.

In an introduction speech, Stavropol residents often call the historical places of the city as a place of residence: Osetinka, Forshtadt, Mamaika, Koryta, etc. It means they use the toponyms originated in the pre-revolutionary period.

The name of the district of Forshtadt is translated from German as “the city near the fortress” or “in front of the fortress”. Moreover, it was New Forshtadt, an area with miserable shacks. Straw, reeds, resin and clay were the main materials for the roof. New Forshtadt had narrow streets, overgrown by moss because of the location o between the Mutnianka and Mamaika rivers. However, it was New Vorstadt that received the first water supply system in Stavropol.

At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries the spring Koryta at the edge of the Mamaiskii forest gave good, clean water and supplied it to Forshtadt. In the 19th century, in the place of the spring woodenwares were made. Water poured immediately into them, where it settled. It is believed that the original name was Stoilo, denoting a place where you could water horses. However, this name did not get accustomed.

The origin of another Stavropol microtoponym Mamaika has several versions. In the 16th century, Khan Mamai, the warlord of the Golden Horde, lived and reigned here after the defeat in the Battle of Kulikov. He gave his name to the place. Another more plausible variant refers either to the Circassian word “mamai”, which means a bison in the Caucasus, or to the Shapsug name of the ancient Greeks, which sounded like “mamai”. The Mamay forest is remarkable for the fact that the Koryta tract with a spring is located on its territory.

The image of culture in language units is complemented by those features that are fixed in stereotypes of speech. They appear in folklore and literary quotations, speech clichés in standard ritual situations. All these examples are represented in the modern Shpakovskii district. It is located in the northwestern part of the Stavropol Krai, which unites 34 settlements. The administrative center is the city of Mikhailovsk. Until 1995, the district center was called the village of Shpakovskii, therefore the area is called Shpakovskii. The territory of the Shpakovskii district was settled one of the first, which was associated with favorable climatic and geographical conditions.

The unique culture of immigrants reflected in the oeconyms of the Shpakovskii district. This culture was formed as a result of the synthesis of Slavic, Turkic and other cultures. A vivid example of this is the name Sengileevka, which had the double name “Bogoiavlenskoe Sengileika” from the time of settlement (1797) and up to 1833. The thing is, Russian smallholders who arrived on the riverbanks of Egorlyk founded the village named in honor of the holiday – the Holy Epiphany or the Baptism of the Lord God. “The toponym Sengilei existed long before the appearance of smallholders. Its origin is associated with the former inhabitants of the George steppes – the Nogais. According to one version, Sengilei is a two-word notion of “an area abounding in fescue”. Under other version, Sengilei is a hydronym of the seng “tributary” and lei “river” in Mordvinian. Over time, the Russian name of the Bogoiavlenskoe disappeared, and the Turkic Sengileevka is still functioning.

As a result of the study, we identified two large groups of oeconyms: cultural-historical and natural-geographic names. The first group includes oeconyms, the nominations of which date back to the personal naming of residents and owners of villages. The second group includes natural-geographical names, which reflect a connection with natural conditions, a location of the settlement, flora and fauna.

One of the most common forms of settlement were farms. It is a separate land plot with the owner’s house. Sometimes there were several land plots as well as owners. For example, the Demino farm was founded in 1905 by the brothers Demin Fedor and Lavrentii, who were bid landowners and industrialists; the Tsimlianskii farm was founded in 1882 by the cossack Tsimlianskii; the Koliuzhnyi farm belonged to the landowners Koliuzhnyi; the Kozevnikov farm owned the landlords Kozhevnikov; the Lipovchanskii farm was founded by the cossack Lipovchanskii.

Many names of settlements with anthroponymic origin have no official versions of the nomination. That is why there are different interpretations of the name. Thus, there is no official information about the appearance of the oeconyms Pelagiada, Nadezhda and Mikhailovskoe, but there are various legends. According to one of them, all three villages got their names from the children of Konon Ustinov, the commander of the Khopersky regiment: Mikhail, Pelageia and Nadezhda. According to one of these versions, each village has its own legend about the name origin. The village of Pelagiada was founded in 1794 and named after the gypsy woman Giada. Her tabor wandered around the settlement, where there was a hussar regiment. Her beautiful singing captivated the hussars, and one of them fell in love with her. The gypsy father did not give consent to the wedding, and then the lovers decided to flee, but the father caught them and killed Giada. The place where the camp stood was called Pelagiada. The place where the girl died Palagiada. As a result, the ethnolinguistic factor is realized in the semantics of oeconym.

According to one of the versions, the settlement of Mikhailovskoe was founded by Kursk smallholders in 1884. They named the new settlement in honor of their native Mikhailovskaia settlement. After 1945, the village was renamed from Mikhailovskoe to Shpakovskoe in honor of the Red Army commander Foma Grigorevich Sрpak, who died near the village. After 1995, the village was transformed into the city of Mikhailovsk.

 The village of Nadezhda was formed in 1811 and received the name Mamaika of the river. After a few years it was renamed and in the revision fairy tale of 1811 it appeared as Nadezhda. This name is due to the fact that this territory was often attacked by Circassians and Kabardians. In these battles one could only hope that the villagers would repulse the enemy and remain alive.

In the Shpakovsky district there is only one oecronim, which is formed from the name of the religious feast of Saints Peter and Paul, is Petropavlovka.

The names of several localities arose from the name of the ethnos: the farm Polskii, in which 16 families of exiled Poles settled in 1832. About the Tatarka village there is no official information. There is a legend that when the Tatars brought a livestock for sale, they were not allowed into Stavropol, so they settled down for the night in the vicinity of the city. The place where they were located was called Tatarka.

The second group includes the names of natural-geographical nature: the farm of Kholodnogorskii, the farm of Temnorechenskii, the village of Temnolesskaia, the farm of Verkhnerusskii and Nizhnerusskii (located at the foot of the Russian forest) and the farm of Severnyi, the farm of Stepnoi, the farm of Priozernyi, the village of Dubovka, Verkhnedubovskii (located in Oak Beam, where many oaks grew), Grushevyi (located in Pear Beam), the village of Kalinovka.

Each of these naming conventions includes a specific set of features.

It is important to study a toponymic space of a certain territory not only for linguists, but also for historians, ethnographers. A toponymic nomination is a specially organized system that has been formed over a long time.

To use a toponymy as a material for ethno-linguistic research is natural. The ethnolinguistic study of toponyms is due to the fact that they contain certain coded information about the space surrounding a person, which is one of the most important components of the national cultural model of the world.

The toponymic space of the region under study is represented not only by officially fixed names of settlements, but also by microtoponyms. In this regard, onyms are of great interest, a written fixation of which is often absent. Therefore, the main source of information on the origin and etymology of these microtoponyms is the collection of field material, a work with informants, which allows observe the functioning of onyms in “natural conditions”.

Legends play an important role in identifying the origin of microtoponyms, which are carefully preserved in the memory of an ethnos or microethnos. This extralinguistic information allows investigate more deeply the history of the appearance of onyms and the peculiarities of their functioning.

A large group consists of microtoponyms associated with the implementation of generalized images of men and women. By virtue of their social role, a woman develops a very closed space in a small range, as a result of which female toponyms represent “their” space. It includes objects that are close to their place of residence. Men develop the “alien” space, located outside the female range.

In the formation of microtoponyms, toponymic foundations are most often used. They represent either the female onomasticon or the physiological markers of the woman’s appearance, for example: the Malashkin’s pond – “a cow drowned in this Malashkin pond”, the Anisia’s servey – “a narrow plot of land between two gardens, owned by a grumpy grandmother Anisia”, the Senia’s Bridge – “the healer Senia lives behind this bridge, where they go to destroy charms”, the Maria’s ravine – “the ravine where Grandma Maria took out the garbage from the garden”, the Widow mowing – “the mowing belonged to the widow of the Cossack”. In the female toponyms the sacred idea of fertility reflected. It is associated with land and water. All these objects, as we have already noted, mark “their” space, located close to the house.

The male image in microtoponyms is reflected less than the female one. It is largely associated with hunting and fishing. The legends associated with these onyms are known to a narrow circle of people. The Fedor’s dam – “Fedor Malakhov made a dam from the Yegorlyk and stocked it with fish”; the Grand-father’s fascine – “a small ravine, fixed with a fence of twigs, so that it would not be washed away; a good place to hunt, where a hare lies on the ground”; Lopatin’s forest – “the forest belonged to the landowner Lopatin”; Kuzmina Gora – “the hut of a lonely grandfather Kuzma stood at the highest place ”, the Chernikov’s pond – “the pond was dug out and stocked up with fish by the wealthy peasant Chernikov”.

The etymology of many microtoponyms is evaluative because it is associated with a visual representation of reality objects. For example, the kinky mowing – “there are many small hillocks in the mowing”; the jolly key – “water flows in a thin stream, hitting the stones. They say that the spring laughs”, the lousy pond – “small, with a large amount of silt”, the north pond – “the water in it is always cold because of underground springs”, the thorn bush – “a thorn bush grows on both sides of the road, which prevents movement”.

The background knowledge of the microetnos about a different world or supernatural manifestations is reflected in toponyms. Either genuine fear or special reverence is always hidden there, since these names are based on archaic ideas about “dark” and “bright” forces, about “own” and “foreign space. For example, the witches grazing – “there is a grass called “snake milk”. You break the plant, then milky juice appears. It causes burns on the skin; therefore, it is used for a love spell or an eye sight”. The demon deep – “a place in the river, where many people were drowned. Everyone does not go there. There are no fish there”. The snake key – “the water is salty in it; it is not suitable for drinking”. A cat is often associated with an unclean place. It is presented as a guide to the other world: the cat’s stone – “if you step over it, you will get sick”.

There are few microtoponyms, which reflected the idea of holiness or connection with the holy places, in this area. Nikolai’s key – “it is believed that if you read the prayer to Nikolai the Wonderworker and draw water from a spring, the water becomes healing”. The Cross of the Hill – “is a worship cross for the fallen wars on the hill there; therefore, this place is sacred”.

Toponyms are a result of the conscious naming of objects. A toponym, like any proper name, is “a collapsed symbol, correlated in a complex way with the nature of the individual” (Toporov, 1995, p. 63). A geographic proper name is informative. The choice of a representative toponym feature is well-grounded. When only one of the many signs of a toponym is chosen for its name, there are very good reasons for this. It is known that the choice is based on the principle of relative differential or relative negativity. Only the feature that distinguishes from others can generate the name of an object. A bright example is the specific naming of the Petrovsky District, which dates back to two centuries. The first villages were founded at the end of the 18th century. They were a part of the Azovo-Mozdokskaia defensive line, established by decree of Catherine II of April 24 in 1777. It gave a rise to the settlement of Ciscaucasia and the North Caucasus. These are such villages as Orekhovka (1790), Donskaia Balka (1787), Vysotskoe (1784).

Svetlograd is founded in 1786 as the village of Petrovskoe. The status of the city received in 1965. The founder of the village was Peter Burlak, a runaway serf. He settled in the woods near the river Kalaus in 1750. However, according to local residents, this has not been documented.

The village of Konstantinovskoye (1822) is named after the heir to the royal throne. The name was approved by the Astrakhan governor. The local ethnographer M. G. Chicherin writes about the formation of the village: “In the summer of 1802, I. E. Belykh and his family consisting of twenty-three souls settled near a beam overgrown with dense deciduous forest. He was a peasant from the village of Semenek of the Livenskii district of the Orlovskaia province...” (as cited in History of cities and villages of Stavropol: brief essays, 2008).

The next village is the village of Blagodatnoe (1848). Initially, it was a settlement located on the outskirts of the birch forest. That time it was called Berestovka. Later, from the fertile conditions of life, the village received the modern name.

The oldest village of Stavropol is considered to be the village of Sukhaia Buivola (1764). Migrants from the Kursk, Orlov, Voronezhsk and Chernigov provinces began to develop the land between the two elevations on the Sukhaia Buivola River in a beam and a dry place. That is why the village has got this name.

The village of Vysotskoe (1784) is located near the Buivola River on a high ridge. That is why the village has got this name.

There are several versions of the basement of the village of Nikolina Balka (1840). According to one of them, the village is named after St. Nicholas the Wonderworker (History of cities and villages of Stavropol: brief essays, 2008). Another version says that the name of the village is associated with the name of the peasant Nikolai, one of the first settlers of these places. He became famous for advocating a fair distribution of land, often were in conflict with a conscript, helping people who immortalized his name in the name of the village.

Having studied the history of origin of the village of Rogataia Balka, it is thought that a land development began in 1910-1912. Initially, in this area there were small farms, and their inhabitants were peasants from the nearby settlement Sukhaia Buivola. The village received its name from two converging beams, which looked as animal horns.

Founders of the village of Donskaia Balka (1787) were Great Russians from the Tambov, Tula, Kharkov, Poltava provinces.

The name of the village of Martynovka comes from the name of the landowner Martynov. In 1867, colonists from the Akkermanskii district of the Bessarabskaia province rented land from Martynov. Later, the Germans moved here from the Kherson, Tauride, and Samara provinces. A small number of immigrants were from Germany. In 1868 they established the colony Martynsfeld, and in 1915 it received the status of the village of Martynovskoe.

farm 1890 the farm of Kazinka was formed. There the Kazinsky families settled there. The name got the name from the family. It belonged to the Medvedskaya parish.

The village of Shangala in the Petrovsky district of Stavropol Krai is located on lands where nomads headed by Khan Batyi lived. The village was given the name Shangaly, which means “an yellow child”. From the language of the Shors it means nomads who inhabited those lands; later they were expelled to the South Urals. Batyi had many children, but his most beloved was Shangalyk, a daughter. Once Shangalik grieved. Nobody knew the reason of her sadness. She fell in love with a beautiful young man. Shangalyk and her lover decided to flee. Khan Batyi did not like the idea. The Khan warriors overtook the young people. Shangalik was killed by Batyi, and then he ordered to kill her beloved. Since that time, the river has been named after the girl, and the village near the river has been named Shangala.

Another example is the Tomuzlovka River. The legend says that after flood angels of good and evil descended to earth. The angel of evil wanted to recreate his kingdom, but the angel of good won the victory. So, there appeared a river, called Tomuzlovka (“to spite”). People began to develop and settle these lands, and an evil angel passed along the edge of Prikalauskii Krai.

The village of the Pokoinoe in Budennovskii district was founded in 1766 by immigrants from the southern provinces of Russia on the banks of the River Kuma, which carries its waters into the Caspian Sea. The Kuma River in Turkic means “leaving in the sand.” The name “Pokoinoe” comes from the word “peace.” it is designated as “Spokoinoe” on old maps. It is one of the 14 oldest villages of Stavropol Krai, founded before 1784. There are several unofficial versions of the name of the village, which can be summarized by the concept of “folk etymology”:

1. Pokoinoe is named for the word “peace.” It was a place of “peace”. There caravans had a rest. This version, as many villagers believe, is the most reasonable and plausible.

2. The Tatars called the place, where the village is now located, Yamanka – a “black spot”. This name was probably due to the fact that the ancient steppe people could not get used to the difficult local climate. They often ached and died from a debilitating fever. By analogy with the deaths of their fellow tribesmen, the village was given the name Yamanka, which in Russian was called Pokoinoe.

3. Regarding the modern name of the settlement there are various historical versions and folk legends. It is said that in the old days the place of the present village was a deserted swampy wilderness, completely covered with forest, reeds and all vegetation. And because it had raw, severe climate, from which the first settlers died.

4. There is a legend that Catherine the Second, passing by the village, found time for a terrible fever. There were many corpses on the streets and, seeing this terrible picture, Catherine the Second said that this village was “dead”. That is why it could be called “Pokoinoe.”

5. On old maps, the village is marked as “Spokoinoe”, but over time the letter “C” has been erased.

The development of the lands of Ciscaucasia began at the end of the 18th century and continued until the end of the 19th century. The beginning of settlement was a legal relocation, as a result of which new top-objects appear on the map. This process is called a toponymy of places of “secondary settlement”. Old-timers said that the soldiers of the St. George and Alexander fortresses found Russian settlements on the banks of the Kuma River in the area of the village of the Pokoinoe.

According to the official version, the village of Pokoinoe was founded in 1766 by immigrants from the southern provinces. The information is given in a memorial plaque on the walls of the church of Michael the Archangel.

According to another version, in 1776 Catherine the Second, distributing the land to her entourage, gave the places of the villages of Pokoinoe and Praskoveia to Prince Potemkin-Tavricheskii.

In general, folk etymology allows describe the past of the earth. The information that each toponymic name bears is either funny moments (Golopuzovka - a Svetlograd town district), or a place of celebration (Tsentr, Brodvei, Strelka), assessment units (the Tomuzlovka river, Shangala, Kutsai).

Coded information may contain:

1) a language affiliation;

2) an object location and its correlation with other objects;

3) various connotative signs. They may be included in the semantics of the original appeal, but may not be contained in it;

4) names reflecting the connection of the object with a specific subject.

The regional toponymic study aims not only to identify the composition and sources of the formation of toponyms of secondary settlement sites, but also to give them a semantic and structural characteristic, to indicate the principles for the nomination of different types of toponyms. Analyzing the toponymic material, we can find both the Turkic elements in the names and highlight the general Russian tendencies: the use of otantroponymic entities, geographical terms. The language of the earth describes the past of those who, under very difficult conditions, settled, mastered. It is fully reflected in the toponymy of Stavropol Krai. A traditional peasant culture interacts with new cultural markers based on​contemporary reality: new names appear, for example: The Stone of Love, The Love Source.

  The study of toponymic material is impossible without ethno-linguistic information, which allows penetrate deeper into the spiritual world of an ethnos, its history and culture.


A geographic proper name is informative by either pronounced or hidden meanings. When only one of the many signs of a toponym is chosen for its name, there are very good reasons for this It is known that the choice is based on the principle of relative differential or relative negativity. Only the feature that distinguishes from others can generate the name of an object. Therefore, the study of onomastic is one of the urgent problems of modern linguistics.

The toponymic space under study contains both extralinguistic and linguistic information. It consists of address-identification, chronological, etymological, historical-cultural, structural-educational, associative-textual blocks. The reference to the beginning of the national culture allows identify the foundations of national identity of the name. They are inextricably linked with rites and customs, with the pagan concepts of the peasants about nature, with their philosophy, worldview, which is associated with anthropomorphic ideas about the world;


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28 December 2019

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Cherkashina, S., Lugovaia, E., Kuznetsova, T., & Borisova*, T. (2019). Folk Etymology As Means Of Representation Of Ethnos Background Knowledge. In D. Karim-Sultanovich Bataev, S. Aidievich Gapurov, A. Dogievich Osmaev, V. Khumaidovich Akaev, L. Musaevna Idigova, M. Rukmanovich Ovhadov, A. Ruslanovich Salgiriev, & M. Muslamovna Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 76. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 455-466). Future Academy.