A toponymic study of the meanings of village names in Cilacap, Central Java

Amalina Shomami, Multamia R.M.T. Lauder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Place names change over time, reflecting changing human perceptions and preferences. The naming of places can describe or refer to a local community's expectations, historical events, and also identity (Rais, 2008). Cilacap is a regency in the southwest of central Java. Cilacap is linguistically interesting because it consists of two linguistic areas: Sundanese and Javanese. The present study looks at the meanings of names in the area. Names do not only contain referential meaning, but also have associations and connections with emotions that are part of the development of an area. The research should be of interest to those looking at the relation between human activity, development, and culture. This research restricts itself to naming based on semantic meaning i.e., categorial meanings, associative meanings, and emotive meanings (Nyström, 2016). The selection of observation points is set based on previous dialectology-linguistics research by Wulandari (2017). A total of twenty villages were surveyed in an area where Sundanese and Javanese are spoken. The research gathered data through interviews. Suitable interviewees were selected based on the of dialectology principle expressed in the acronym NORM (Non-mobile, Older, Rural, Male). The names of villages in Cilacap have a range of meanings linked with physical aspects of the environment: hydrological, geomorphological, flora and also socio-cultural, and categorical meanings of hope or aspiration. Village names in Cilacap Regency are influenced by Sundanese and Javanese, in addition to local topographic conditions. The associative meanings found in the names of these villages have both positive and negative connotations. These positive and negative meanings are part of the communities' emotional ties to the place. Areas with negative name can experience a downturn in the local regional economy or even isolation. The present research is a toponymy study which uses the results of a dialectology research to identify the language used in its villages. It also uses the dialectology field work principle for selecting participants, but here it is about the place names. Combining toponomy and dialectology field work principles, the two approaches support each other and constitute an innovative research that has never been done before.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSociolinguistics and Dialectological Studies in Indonesia
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781536197365
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2021


  • Associative meaning
  • Categorial meaning
  • Emotion
  • Place names
  • Toponyms


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