Old house names
In the Slovene countryside, old house names were largely preserved as the names of homesteads, even when the family names of the owners had changed. In the process of the decline in farming and of the suburbanisation of settlements in the surrounds of Jesenice, house names have been sinking into oblivion and only the oldest inhabitants can still remember them at some places. However, these names are important in view of preserving the intangible cultural heritage and the local dialect, in which they are spoken.
The origin of house names varies, but most frequently a homestead got its name from the name, family name or occupation of its first owner. Sometimes the house name was formed on the basis of the specific location or status of the homestead, or the owner’s special characteristics. What is more, some house names were even based on the names of animals, trees and crops.
Between 2004 and 2008, the Municipality of Jesenice collected old house names in all the settlements within the municipality and furnished the homesteads – where the owners gave their consent – with hand-made clay plates with dialectal house names inscribed. Approximately 300 house names were collected and approximately 200 houses furnished with clay plates.
The collecting of house names was primarily aimed at preserving the intangible cultural heritage of the former agricultural settlements in the Municipality of Jesenice. These names help to preserve the local identity of citizens as well as the dialect and the history of respective settlements.
Municipality of Jesenice – preserved intangible cultural heritage in rural areas of the municipality.
Elderly locals – socializing; reminiscing about old house names.
Homestead owners – free of charge clay plates with house name inscribed; enhanced identification with the local environment.
Visitors to the settlement – another point of interest when visiting the settlements, especially those more attractive for tourism (e.g. Planina pod Golico).
WHY is the best practice considered as good
House names, if they are not recorded, are condemned to sink into oblivion.
The process of collecting house names wakes local identity in people and increases their interest in other values, which are related to the intangible heritage of rural areas.
WHAT are the measurable results
The number of house names collected in the entire municipality: 300 (estimate).
The number of homesteads with clay plates installed in the entire municipality: 200 (estimate).
The use of house names in everyday conversation between locals has increased.
The locals are no longer ashamed of their house names but rather they are proud of them.
New opportunities created on the local level
Issuing guides for individual settlements, which will contain the explanations of the meanings of house names.
The use of house names as a trademark (e.g. marketing agricultural products with house name trademark).
Research of other linguistic dialectal values of the local environment (e.g. dialectal words, dictionary of dialectal words).
Awareness raising on the importance of dialect preservation.
The project was financed by the Municipality of Jesenice. In the entire 2004–2008 period, EUR 5,000 was spent on this project, namely:
• EUR 2,500 – research and collection of house names;
• EUR 2,500 – production and the installation of clay plates.
Possibility of tansferring the best practice
The campaign was received with approval and interest by the local environment. What is more, significant local media coverage was devoted to the project. Based on this project, in 2009, the collection of house names continued in other municipalities of Upper Gorenjska. In 2011, a project covering this theme is foreseen to take place within the framework of a trans border project, which involves the Gorenjska region and the Austrian Carinthia.
This shows that this example of the best practice of cultural and linguistic heritage preservation is extremely relevant for transfer into other areas. The Development Agency for Upper Gorenjska, which now professionally manages the collection campaigns, had developed a methodology, which is suitable for transfer into any rural environment familiar with the phenomenon of house names.