Name Planning

The Institute for the Languages of Finland oversees language planning for Finnish, Swedish, Saami, Finnish Sign Language and Romany. Name planning is an integral part of this work. Statutory Language Boards for each of these languages act as our resident name planning experts. Their task is to issue decisions-in-principle and general recommendations on the use of toponyms and proper names.

The goals of our name planning work are to:

  • preserve Finnish toponymic traditions and familiarise the public with traditional naming practices;

  • ensure that new place names, both in zoned urban and rural areas, are appropriate and compatible with traditional place names;

  • oversee the Finnish name system, ensuring that new first names and surnames are appropriate and compatible with existing Finnish traditions and legislation;

  • ensure that imported proper names comply with Finnish legislation and the existing Finnish name system;

  • influence the selection and usage of names of government offices, institutions, companies, associations, trademarks, etc.

  • standardise and oversee the correct and unambiguous usage of foreign place names in compliance with established practices and internationally approved principles.

Our work in this field is based on research into existing Finnish onomastic traditions, specialist literature published in Finland and around the world, resources in our Names Archive and, as necessary, additional case-specific research.

References to foreign proper names, geographical place names, product names, companies and other names are frequent in everyday speech and writing. In cooperation with foreign language experts, our name planning experts issue guidelines on how foreign names should be used in Finnish contexts.

Our success in this work is dependent on close collaboration with Finnish government offices, institutions, the media, neighbouring countries and the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Place Names (UNGEGN).