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Finnish Place Names in Minnesota: A Study in Cultural Transfer

Matti Kaups
Geographical Review
Vol. 56, No. 3 (Jul., 1966), pp. 377-397
DOI: 10.2307/212463
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/212463
Page Count: 21
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Finnish Place Names in Minnesota: A Study in Cultural Transfer
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Abstract

Utilization of place names as indexes whereby past migrations and population distributions are reconstructed has received considerable application. Contemporary exotic place names, however, have been the subject matter of relatively few studies. Although scores of place names of European derivation appear on the American landscape, our knowledge regarding the evolution and resulting distribution of such names given by different immigrant groups remains vague. Finnish data from Minnesota reveal that the distribution of exotic place names is conditioned by several factors, and that an insignificant number of these place names are named after villages or other localities in Finland. Most of the Finnish place names derive from immigrant surnames and identify physical features. The in-group place names, which the first-generation Finns developed, had meaning and function only within the culturally pluralistic Finnish-American community. Of special interest are the descriptive regional names thus developed.

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