The network’s objective is to unite academic name scholars from different fields of research (onomastics, linguistics, historical geography, cartography etc.) in the Netherlands and Flanders, and to encourage them to work together on research, documentation and digitalisation projects. Additionally, the Netwerk Naamkunde is working towards an international embedding in the field of onomastics in the future.
As the members of this network live and work all over the countries they communicate by means of a digital mailing list and meet during biannual workshops. The network is a web based name centre (www.naamkunde.net) that also functions as an information desk to meet the enormous public interest in names: people are looking for popularising articles as well as for specific advise on matters related to names. Moreover, the website of the Netwerk Naamkunde provides access to databases on first names, family names and to a digital documentation system.
Four workshops have been organised since the start of the Netwerk Naamkunde. The theme of the first workshop in June 2006 was the foundation of the network. In addition, there were two presentations that showed recent digitization developments in onomastics: one on the Dutch population administration system containing data on first names and family names, and another on the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to store historical information regarding settlement names. 24 potential members were present. The second meeting in December 2006 drew 32 of the 70 members of the Netwerk Naamkunde to the Meertens Instituut in Amsterdam. Besides a few organisational and technical talks, the programme offered two lectures, one on toponyms and lexicology and one on the classification of regional microtoponyms. Highlight of this day was the presentation of the third edition of a Dutch book on place names by Gerald van Berkel and Kees Samplonius (Nederlandse plaatsnamen. Herkomst en historie ‘Dutch place names. Origin and history’, Utrecht: Het Spectrum, 2006). The third workshop was held at the University of Antwerp in June 2007. It had a focus on onomastics in Flanders. There were lectures on business names, family names and on historical onomastics. During this workshop a publication was presented as well: Theory and Typology of Proper Names, written by Willy van Langendonck (Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 2007). The last meeting of the Netwerk Naamkunde (January 2008) was a thematic workshop on onomastics and geography. It showed again that the Netwerk Naamkunde necessarily unites scholars from different fields of research. There were also two lectures on the digitization of onomastic literature and onomastic data for research purposes.