Place Names Day in Kuressaare
On October 26, 2007 a seminar was organized in Kuressaare by the Ministry of the Interior and the Place Names Board for persons interested in place names. Please see the programme of the seminar.
Ninth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names
was held in New York from 21 to 30 August 2007, a day earlier and after, the 24th Session of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) took place at the same venue. Estonia was represented at the Conference by Malle Hunt, Aule Kikas and Peeter Päll. Conference documents have been published on UNGEGN's website. Estonia submitted the national report (see CRP. 1 in the list) and toponymic guidelines for map and other editors (CRP. 2, published as a booklet).
Place Names Day in Viljandi, 2006
On November 3, 2006 a seminar was held in Viljandi for those interested in place names and their standardization. This annual event was the fourth already. See also the agenda of the Place Names Day.
Meeting of the Baltic Division of UNGEGN
The 10th meeting of the Baltic Division of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) was held on October 12–13, 2006 in Tallinn. In conjunction, a meeting of the UNGEGN Working Group on Romanization Systems was held on October 9–10. More information is provided on the page of the Baltic Division.
National Place Names Register
has reopened in March 2005 the public interface of the register on the Internet, i.e. a query form. The texts are so far only in Estonian. Introduction to the register is given on the pages of the Ministry of the Interior. Since April 2006 the Register is hosted by the Map Server of the National Land Board.
Training on names standardization issues in Haapsalu
was held for those in Western Estonia on 28 October, 2004. The programme of the day (incl. links) is attached.
New Place Names Act
entered into force on July 1, 2004. It had been adopted by Parliament (Riigikogu) on November 5, 2003 and proclaimed by the President of the Republic on November 13. English translation of the text is available thanks to the Estonian Legal Language Centre. With the Act new subordinate acts for the implementation have also been prepared and approved. The members of the Place Names Board were newly nominated on July 1, 2004.
22nd Session of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN)
was organized on April 2029, 2003 in New York. Estonia was represented by Mrs. Elvi Sepp (Ministry of Internal Affairs), Mrs. Malle Hunt (Estonian Maritime Administration) and Mr. Peeter Päll (Institute of Estonian Language). Estonia submitted information on developments regarding the standardization of geographical names during the past two years (as part of the report of the Baltic Division) and the English translation of the new Place Names Act. For documents and some photos see the section on the Baltic Division of UNGEGN. Permanent Mission of Estonia to the UN assisted Estonian experts in the arrangements.
Training on names standardization issues in Tartu
was held for local government officials on October 21, 2003 in the premises of the Tartu County Government (Aleksandri tn 14); the issues included place names as historic and cultural signs; new Place Names Act; restoration of names of populated places; linguistic requirements in names; names of protected areas and features; National Place Names register (presentation). See the attached agenda and presentation documents.
6th Meeting of the Baltic Division of UNGEGN
was organized by the initiative of the Place Names Board on Kihnu Island, Estonia, 28-30 May 2003. Experts from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania participated in the meeting. More information on the meeting is to be published on the page of the Baltic Division.
New composition of the Place Names Board
The Place Names Board of Estonia was newly formed by the Government on December 3rd, 2002. This was necessary because members are appointed to serve in the Board for five years, according to the Place Names Act. Previously the Board was nominated in 1997. 11 members from the old Board continue their functions, there are also 4 new members. The first meeting with the new composition was held on December 17, 2002 at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Meetings of the Place Names Board in 2000-2002
On March 5, 2002 different practical aspects were discussed (see the minutes). One of side issues discussed was whether it was proper to use a joke name Tooraboora mäed (mäed = hills) in a recently published road atlas to denote hills on a skiing path near Elva, a south-eastern city in Estonia. Allegedly this name was invented by a skier in December 2001, at the time when US forces were engaged in Afganistan's Tora Bora Hills. Most members of the Board agreed that such a method of introducing new toponyms was not compattible with good cartographic conduct. This particular name attracted public interest and invited many comments on the Internet. (For reference see the Estonian text of the news.)
On October 18, 2001 (see the minutes) the Board discussed changes to the Place Names Act and the spelling of a name of a populated place in Harjumaa, also two other names were discussed.
On 9 February 2001 the Board met at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The agenda is given in the minutes of the meeting.
Previously the Place Names Board had gathered unofficially on December 18, 2000 at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. There was no fixed agenda, among other items the participation at the 3rd Meeting of the Baltic Division of UNGEGN in Vilnius was discussed.
Eighth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names
was held in Berlin, 27 August to 5 September 2002, together with the 21st Session of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN). Estonia was represented by Ms. Malle Hunt (Estonian Maritime Administration), Ms. Kiira Mõisja (National Land Board), Mr. Peeter Päll (Institute of Estonian Language) and Ms. Elvi Sepp (Ministry of Internal Affairs). Report of Estonia to the Conference has been published at the UNGEGN website (see Technical Papers, CRP. 79) and on the page of the Baltic Division of UNGEGN.
3rd Meeting of the Baltic Division
The countries of the Baltic Division of UNGEGN (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia) held their 3rd meeting in Vilnius, 16-17 November, 2000. 11 experts from Estonia took part in the meeting. A review of activities of the participating countries in the field of standardization of geographical names were given and preparations for the Eighth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names (Berlin, 2002) were discussed. The agenda of the meeting is displayed on the page of the Baltic Division.
The Place Names Board has been consulted in recent cases when the name of the Estonian gold medalist at the Sydney Olympic Games 2000 has been planned to be given to a new street or a stadium by local governments. The Place Names Act specifically stipulates that "The name of a person shall not be used as a commemorative name of a place during the lifetime of that person. The procedure for establishing commemorative names shall be established by the Government of the Republic." (17,3.) The controversial plans of commemorative naming have also been criticized in the media.
Recommendations on naming municipalities
The Place Names Board approved recommendations that concern the choice of names for new municipalities that might be formed during the planned administrative reform. The recommendations apply only if the traditional local government structure is preserved.
Attention by media to names of land properties
has been attracted by an agenda item at the Board's meeting in May 2000 when a suggested farm name in the county of Läänemaa was mentioned. The name was considered vulgar and inappropriate by the parish administration and consequently rejected. The Maaleht newspaper in an article (20 July 2000) interviewed the farm owner. The BNS news agency prepared a short news that attracted lively comments at the Delfi Internet portal.
took place in New York, 17-28 January 2000. Estonia was represented in the Baltic Division of UNGEGN by Elvi Sepp and Peeter Päll. The activities of the division are coordinated by Latvia. Documents presented to the session (report of the Baltic Division, translation of the Estonian Place Names Act) had been displayed also on pages of the Baltic Division. In addition Peeter Päll compiled a report of the convenor of the UNGEGN working group on romanization systems and a report on the status of UN romanization systems for geographical names.
For more information on the session see the relevant United Nations press releases on 19 January and 28 January.
Translation of the Place Names Act
The English translation of the Place Names Act is now available. The translation was provided by the Estonian Translation and Legislative Support Centre.
Meetings of the Place Names Board in 1998 and 1999
In 1999, the last meeting took place on 10 November, at the premises of the Ministry of the Interior. See also the minutes. Earlier, a meeting was held on June 14, 1999. See also the press release. On 19 February 1999 a meeting took place in the South-Eastern town of Võru. The agenda included the reform of the list of populated places, standardizing the names in the Võru local form, use of place names on signboards, and the names of bus stops.
In 1998 the last meeting of the Board took place on December 11. There was no fixed agenda, the Board reviewed the work done and discussed future agenda. On the meeting of November 12, 1998 changes in the list of populated places and other questions were discussed. The meeting approved proposals of the Working Group on the Names of Populated Places. Some of the decisions were also publicized in the Estonian media.
Amalgamations and name changes concerning local government units
After local government elections in the autumn 1999 the amalgamations of several local government units took effect, decided by the Government in the first half of 1999. On 17 March 1999 the town of Otepää and the parish of Pühajärve were merged into one parish of Otepää with the town remaining as an inner-parish town, i.e. a settlement with no local administration. On 13 May the town of Lihula and the parish of Lihula were merged into the parish of Lihula. On 8 June the parish of Vihula and Võsu were merged (new name: the parish of Vihula) and the town of Karksi and the parish of Karksi (the new unit will be called the parish of Karksi). On 15 June the parishes of Kaarma and Kuressaare were united under the name of the parish of Kaarma, on 29 June the parish of Antsla and the town of Antsla were merged into the parish of Antsla.
The town council of Karksi-Nuia and the parish council of Karksi had previously applied for the new unit to be called the parish of Karksi-Nuia. The Ministry of the Interior, however, after receiving several expert opinions (from the Viljandi Museum, the Office of Onomastic Expertise) and after consultations with the county governor and the chairmen of both councils decided to propose to the Government that the unit be called the parish of Karksi. Karksi-Nuia (until 1987 Nuia, named in the last century after an inn) has been the name of a populated place and has never signified a wider territory. Karksi as a historic name of the ecclesiastical parish mentioned already in the 13th century has been traditionally applied to all of the new parish's territory.
The government name decision had evoqued some criticism and discussion in the press. The mayor of Karksi-Nuia voiced discontent over the fact that the local government proposal was ignored. For links to press articles see the Estonian text of the news.
Second stage of the reform of populated places
The Government of the Republic on December 16, 1998 approved a new revised list of populated places. The list contains 4606 populated places, the number of settlements rose by 97. A list of new names and changed or abolished names has been published on the Place Names Board website (explanations are in Estonian and English).
The Ministry of the Interior had previously reviewed applications from municipalities concerning new changes in the list of populated places and defining their delimitation lines. The working group on populated places of the Place Names Board met on 18 September, 15 and 27 October to review the applications. Results are published in the consolidated report of the working group meetings, these are supplemented by reflections of local governments and changes made in the list thereafter.
National Place Names Register
An interim working group of the Place Names Board had worked out a draft statute of the National Place Names Register which was approved by the Government on 24 November, 1998. The statute was published on the Board's website.
Names of sea islands of Estonia
The working group on names of natural features had dealt with the list of Estonian sea islands, taking as basis August Loopmann's 'List of Sea Islands' published by the Information and Technology Centre at the Ministry of the Environment (Tallinn 1996). As the base material needs modernization and better localization of the islands on maps the group has decided to seek for special funding for the research.
Seventh United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names
The Conference was held 12-23 January 1998 in New York. Estonia was represented by Mrs. Malle Hunt (National Maritime Board), Mr. Peeter Päll (Institute of the Estonian Language) and Mrs. Elvi Sepp (Ministry of the Interior). The documents presented by Estonia are found on the page of the Baltic Division of UNGEGN. 3 experts to the Conference were sent e.g. also by Finland and Latvia. All in all there were 187 representatives from 64 countries as well as observers from international organizations. See the official press release of the UN (in English) and the link to the resolutions of the Conference.
For earlier news see the archive in Estonian