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Glossary

The glossary shows a selection of standard terms used in toponymy. Most of them are taken from the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names 'Glossary of Terms for the Standardization of Geographical Names'.



Term
Meaning
Examples
acronym  Word formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive or major parts of a composite term.  Used in Ghana for institutions and organisations, e.g. Adisco (Adisadel College), SWOPA (Sirigu Women Organisation of Pottery & Art), rather than for place-names. 
allonym  Each of two or more toponyms employed in reference to a single topographic feature. (Note that in The Database this term is also used to refer to different spellings of the same toponym which may or may not have the same meaning, e.g -so = on, but -su = water.)
The traditional name of Cape Coast is Oguaa 
anthroponym  Personal name. (cf. eponym)  Kofi Pari, Kwame Danso 
autonym  See 'endonym'.   
digraph  Sequence of two letters that represent a single phoneme.  'kp' in Kpandu, 'tw' in Twifo 
endonym  The name of a people or place which is used in their own language.  The people in the Likpe area call themselves 'Bakpele'. 
eponym  Name of a person or group of persons after or for whom a place is named. (cf. anthroponym)  Kofi Pari, Kwame Danso 
ethnonym  The name given to a specific ethnic group.  According to Reindorf, "Adanse was the first seat of the Akan nation". 
exonym  A name given to a place or people by those outside.  'Likpe' is the exonym for the people who call themselves 'Bakpele'. 
gazetteer  List of toponyms arranged in alphabetic or other sequential order, with an indication of their location and preferably including variant names  A standard atlas index 
grapheme  Graphic representation of a phoneme in a particular language. (But note that in Ghana it is not standard practice to use non-Roman symbols in place names.)  The Twi grapheme 'ky' is equivalent to the English grapheme 'ch' 
heterograph This term, which is not yet in general usage, is suggested to describe alternative spellings of the same name which have occurred prior to the standardisation of a language's orthography. The heterograph 'Odumasi' is often seen instead of the correct Twi spelling 'Odumase'.
holophrasis  A single word which expresses a whole phrase or combination of ideas.  The name 'Domeabra' means 'If you love me, come'. 
homonym  Each of two or more identical toponyms denoting different topographic features (places).  Odumasi (Central Region) & Odumasi (Volta Region) 
hydronym  Toponym applied to a hydrographic feature.  Volta Lake 
language, indigenous  Language native to a given region.  The indigenous language of Mankesim is Fante 
language, source  Language from which a name is transformed to, or adopted by, another language.  The source language of 'Elmina' is Portuguese 
metonym  A word or phrase used in place of another with which it is closely associated.  'Nkwanta' (road junction) is a metonym for the town Nkwanta. 
morpheme  The minimal distinctive unit in grammar; the smallest functioning unit in the composition of words.  In the name 'Odumase', there are 2 morphemes: 'odum', a species of tree, and 'ase' meaning 'under' 
onomatop
(-e,-oeia)
A name based on sounds associated with that which is named.The roaring sound ('huhu') made by Boti Falls can be heard in the nearby village of Huhunya. 
oronym  Name applied to a feature of topographic elevation, such as a mountain or a hill.  Mt. Gemi; Gambaga Scarp 
phoneme  The smallest unit of sound in the phonological structure of a language that changes meaning. The symbol is usually surrounded by oblique slashes.  / ∫ / represents the English sound 'sh' 
toponym  Proper noun applied to a topographic feature.  Any place name