Quaderno scientifico della Fondazione n. 1

Edited by Andrea Angelini – Giovan Battista Pellegrini – Enrico De Nard

Text and photography by Andrea Angelini; linguistic notes by Giovan Battista Pellegrini; cartographic notes by Enrico De Nard.

Belluno: Fondazione Giovanni Angelini; Regione Veneto, printed 2000 .- 196 pp. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN 88-86106-00-9

This series was born out of an ambitious research programme centred on the documentation of cultural vestiges of the Alps of the Veneto. This “guide” to oronyms was published by the Veneto Region and the Angelini Foundation of Belluno and features the collection of toponyms of the Bellunese Alps and pre-Alps. The rationale for the Oronyms publication series emerges out of the observation that, “it would seem as if names of the mountains should be immutable points of reference; instead one can note the movement of toponyms throughout the region as they change in form and breadth of reference.” Toponyms change with human action and practice. Meanings shift, and at times they are forgotten. There is a risk of losing the sense of use of a certain place, the history recorded in the palimpsests of human activity which have characterized it over the centuries.

The Oronyms research programme — which is object of this book — documents the evolution of oronyms of the Bellunese Alps as they have evolved into their present forms; an ambitious and transdisciplinary undertaking which found its beginnings in a received historical truth: the names of places are tied to actions and practice in everyday life of the inhabitants of a place. In the Bellunese Alps, the oronyms move “from bottom to top”. The names of mountains are derived, in many cases, from names given in precedence to pastures which lie at the base of the named mountain. For this reason, in the historical past, “people were not interested in the summits of the mountains, which did not have names, and were understood as places that were ‘not useful’. As such it was not necessary to distinguish one mountain peak from another.”

Another point of interest confronted in this volume is the predominance of feminine names in the historical record (today almost all mutated to masculine names): Today’s Civetta was once Zuita, lo Schiara was la Sc’iara, il Talvena was known as la Talvena. The river Piave was used in its feminine form.

This book, the supervision of which was trusted to the celebrated glottologist Giovan Battista Pellegrini (“the toponym is a fillis, a crystalized object which we imbue with a sense of the geographical order to the landscape, the way this landscape appeared six or seven hundred years ago”), is recommended as an invaluable reference for scholars, the most complete teaching instrument ever published on this subject.