English Place-Name Society

Professor David Crystal: O brave new world, that has such toponyms in it

Jubilee Conference Centre
Saturday 9th September 2023 (18:30-20:30)

Institute for Name-Studies
School of English
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD



Registration URL
David Crystal

’O brave new world, that has such toponyms in it’

Professor David Crystal gives some recollections of his first encounter with place-name studies, and celebrates some of the leading scholars he knew in the 1950s and 60s. He later developed a focus on issues of pronunciation, and the way research here can be helped by using the internet - the 'brave new world' of his title. His current interest in toponymy was prompted by the need to find a friendly way of answering questions from people - tourists in particular - curious about the names they were seeing on road signs and railway stations as they travelled about Britain. In the second half of his talk he outlines an online project specifically designed to answer their queries. The tourists had three priorities. They wanted encyclopedic as well as linguistic information, and especially pictures of places. They wanted to hear the etymological stories, as well as to read them. And they wanted a variety of ways into the database, such as by name, location, road number, and county. He illustrates how he adapted place-name research to meet these needs, and suggests this kind of problem-solving could be a new branch of applied linguistics - applied toponymy. He concludes with some examples of the discoveries he made along the way.

Professor David Crystal is a Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Bangor. He graduated from University College London in 1962 and has since worked as a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster in the field of English Language studies. He has authored over 100 works, mainly in the field of language, but is perhaps best known for the two encyclopedias he authored for Cambridge University Press, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (3rd edn 2018). He was also the founder-editor of the Journal of Child Language (1973-85), Child Language Teaching and Therapy (1985-96), and Linguistics Abstracts (1985-96), and associate editor of the Journal of Linguistics (1970-73). He has been a consultant, contributor, or presenter on several radio and television programmes and series.

He is currently patron of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) and the Association for Language Learning (ALL), president of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, the UK National Literacy Association, and the Johnson Society of London, and an honorary vice-president of the Institute of Linguists and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. He received an OBE for services to the English language in 1995, and was made a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2000.

He lives online at www.davidcrystal.com.

Find out more about the English Place-Names Society centerary celebration on the conference webpage

English Place-Name Society

The University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5919
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 5924
email: name-studies@nottingham.ac.uk