Does Pig Farm Road by any other name still smell as bad? : An exploration of renaming as a mechanism for asserting cultural, social, and linguistic dominance.

All humans use language to forge a connection to their surroundings. One method of forging such a connection is through the mechanism of naming. Place-names, once given, acquire culturally and socially significant meanings through their association
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  Carpenter 1 of 26 Does Pig Farm Road by any other name still smell as bad? : An exploration of renaming asa mechanism for asserting cultural, social, and linguistic dominance. Rachel N. Carpenter LING 120May 5, 2011 0.0 Abstract: All humans use language to forge a connection to their surroundings. One method of forging such a connection is through the mechanism of naming. Place-names, once given,acquire culturally and socially significant meanings through their association with stories(historical or fictional in nature) as well as through the navigation of the natural landscape, withthe giving of directions becoming reliant on familiarity with area place-names. The act of naming can then be manipulated by incoming cultural groups or even by other more dominantgroups within the same culture to assert their dominance over the srcinal inhabitants of an area.In the course of this term paper, three examples of such occurrences will be presented anddiscussed. The Isle of Man serves as the first case study- demonstrating the effects of Norsesettlers and the influence of the modern English-dominant United Kingdom. The Isle of Lewis,under the same influences as the Isle of Man is also considered. The third case study is muchcloser to home (at least for me) - that of the renaming of roads by the United States governmentin Pennsylvania in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These brief case studies will be used toexplore the possible circumstances in which naming has been used to assert cultural, linguistic,or social dominance through the obliteration of srcinal appellations as well as the possibleoutcomes of episodes of renaming. 1.0 Language and the Creation of Place: Defining  places as spaces that humans have attached a name to, a name that so often reflectsa deeper meaning or significance- a sense of place; it easily follows from this simple definition thatlanguage has an important role to play in the creation of place. Yi-Fu Tuan argues in his article“Language and the Making of Place: A Narrative-Descriptive Approach” that there is a gap in socialscientists’ understanding of how language facilitates the creation of places from (natural) spaces(Tuan 1991). He proposes that this gap exists because social scientists tend to see places only throughthe lens of the material transformation of nature (Tuan 1991). Tuan (1991) argues that language must be given equal recognition because only it can give rise to the communication necessary to allow for the material transformation of nature or in other words, nature cannot be transformed withoutsomeone, somewhere first talking about doing it (Tuan 1991). However, place creation can also  Carpenter 2 of 26 occur through language in the absence of the material transformation of nature, further demonstratingthe importance of language’s role in place creation (Tuan 1991; Basso 1990; Basso 1996).Examples of place creation in the absence of the material modification of the naturalenvironment, are plentiful. For instance, among many Native Americans, including the WesternApache, as discussed by Keith H. Basso in both Wisdom Sits in Places: Notes on a Western Apache Landscape and “‘ Speaking with Names’: Language and Landscapes among the Western Apache ” places are not necessarily altered by human hands (Basso 1990; Basso 1996). Many of the places thatDudley Patterson, a native Apache told Keith Basso about over the course of Basso’s fieldwork among the Western Apache were not transformed by humans in any way besides the bestowing of meaning through the names and stories associated with these places (Basso 1996).Place is created from natural space among the Western Apache via the mechanism of naming(Basso 1996). Historical events, in addition to morality plays are associated with these named spaces,and are retold time and time again to illustrate Western Apache morals (Basso 1996). Sense of placeis created through these stories that come to be associated with individual places, with the storiesgiving the place meaning and often also being the source of the place’s name (Basso 1996);therefore, a place and a sense for that place are often created concurrently (Basso 1996). A place tothe Western Apache is defined by its name, and its sense is defined by its story (Basso 1996).Through Basso’s insightful fieldwork among the Western Apache, he reveals much of how they viewspace and place, and how places are created and sensed through the social and cultural mechanism of storytelling (Basso 1996). Basso (1996) also allows us to better understand these vague concepts of  place and sense of place as well as their social and cultural significance, while giving us insight intothe creation of both place and sense of place.In Basso’s fieldwork concerning Western Apache place and sense of place he follows whatYi-Fu Tuan refers to as a “narrative-descriptive approach” (Tuan 1991:title and throughout article)  Carpenter 3 of 26 which relies more on the details of the human experience(s) associated with a particular place than onscholar-imposed theory (Basso 1990; Basso 1996; Tuan 1991). Basso (1996) and Yuan (1991) bothexplore the many ways that language can be used to create place out of space, from the storytellingimposition of meaning on the landscape associated with hunter-gatherer groups and Native Americantribes (Basso 1990; Basso 1996) to the ordering of nature in “the naming, surveying, mapping, andwriting up of trip logs and journals” implicit in the process of exploration undertaken by the pioneerswho traversed the United States in search of better lives (Tuan 1991:687). Given language’s role inthe creation of space through the mechanism of naming as outlined by the Tuan (1991) and Basso(1996), it follows that the renaming of places by outside parties would have a significant effect on therelationships between srcinal inhabitants and the places that they have created. 2.0 Changing Names, Changing Places: The renaming of places by outside parties not only changes names, but changes the placesand attitudes towards these places as well. As  place-names are imbued with culturally and sociallysignificant meanings, these meanings are altered when the names themselves are changed. Newnames create new meanings, new relationships between humans and the landscape, as well asnew relationships between the srcinal inhabitants of an area and the newcomers who imposethese changes. Due to renaming’s effects, this act can be manipulated by incoming persons toassert their dominance over the srcinal inhabitants of an area. The results of renaming can then be perceived in many ways by the different parties involved. Newcomers may see the new namesas staking their claim (Tuan 1991), helping the locals (County of Luzerne 2009), or in makingthe land more advantageous to future newcomers through the imposition of a new name and thecreation of a new sense of place to combat past stereotypes (Szili and Rofe 2009). Following anepisode of renaming, the srcinal inhabitants can follow one of two courses, they can accept the  Carpenter 4 of 26new names as a form of progress or they can choose to reject these changes in using the means attheir disposal. The remainder of this term paper will showcase and discuss examples of suchepisodes of renaming in three different settings: the Isle of Man, the Isle of Lewis, and RuralPennsylvania. These brief case studies will be discussed and analyzed to reveal the types of circumstances in which naming has been used to assert cultural, linguistic, and/or socialdominance through the changing of place-names as well as the possible outcomes of episodes of renaming. 3.0 The Isle of Man: Modern place-names on the Isle of Man show Celtic, Norse, and English influences. Intheir hybrid and anglicized states, these place-names show the results of two different kinds of culture contact: that in which the two participant cultures exchange many traits, with neither  being fully absorbed by the either (in the case of the Scottish and the Norse or Scandinaviansettlers on the Isle) and that where one asserts clear dominance over the other (demonstrated bythe anglicization of many of the Isle’s place-names on most modern maps (see figure 1)). Background: Located in the middle of the Irish Sea, between the United Kingdom and Ireland (seefigure 1), the Isle of Man has had a long and complex history. Originally settled by Celtic-speaking immigrants from Ireland, Man was later the capital of the Scandinavian empire knownas the Lordship of the Isles. Eventually, it became a quasi-part of the United Kingdom, leading toits current official status as a protectorate of the United Kingdom.  Carpenter 5 of 26Figure 1- The Isle of Man: The Isle of Man is located in the middle of the Irish Sea (Figure 1from Maps of the world 2011a at is this combination of Celtic, Scandinavian, and English influences that has resulted inthe modern place-names on the Isle of Man. A small sample of these place-names is presented below and their significance is discussed. Sample Place-Names:Pre-Scandinavian (Celtic)NamesScandinavian and Celtic Hybrids /Post-Scandinavian NamesAnglicized Names Doolish Kirk / Kirk Michael CastletownRushen / Glen Rushen Dale / Foxdale RamseyBallabeg Fell / Snaefell LaxeyPeelDouglasUnion MillsOnchan
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