Because of the great range of information,
The Toponymy Interest Group recommends a clear distinction
between required types of information and desired types.
The Toponymy Interest Group identifies four types of information as
required for placename studies:
- The Name,
- Type of Feature,
- Source of Information.
Furthermore, this information should be expressed in data fields described as follows:
- Name -- free form exactly as found in the source.
- Type of Feature -- any designation is acceptable, but it is highly desirable to
specify the most appropriate category set forth by the federal government in the
Names Information System.
- Location -- this is to be expressed in any of several data fields, listed here in
order of preference:
- geographic coordinates
- civil divisions
- map reference
- distance and direction from a well-known, other feature.
- Source -- indication of where the information was found using any standard bibliographic
citation of the text or map (e.g. the style manual of the American Psychological
Association or the Modern Language Association handbook). If by interview, simply
state the date of the interview and the name, age, gender, residence, and employment of the
Three other types of information have been discussed as highly desirable:
The Geographic Names Information System identity number, if known, should be used to
distinguish different features with frequently used names -- e.g., Bear Creek. If
any two cultural or geographic features have similar names, their relationships should be
noted and the notation repeated in separate entries.
An indication of pronunciation to show linguistic variation is important for the study
of dialects. Roman letters are preferred with the accent indicated by
All variant spellings and names for the same feature should be listed. Special
note should be made of the comparative frequencies in local usage of these differing names
and name forms.
Definitions of other types of placename information may
be found in a 1993 article from the journal of the American Name Society, Names: A
Journal of Onomastics. (click here to see it.)
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