Delicate relationships of demarcating the concepts of endonym and exonym are examined in the case of place names in Slovenia and neighboring countries. This raises the question of the nature of endonyms on the territory of Slovenia in the languages of officially recognized minorities and their respective linguistic communities, and their relationship to exonyms in the languages of neighboring countries. On the other hand, it also raises the issue of Slovenian exonyms for place names in neighboring countries and their relationship to the nature of Slovenian endonyms on their territories.
The expressions endonm and exonym appear to be precisely defined. However, problems arise when classifying individual geographical names into one of these two categories. The fact that certain geographical names can simultaneously belong to both categories can be bothersome. The Working Group for Exonyms within UNGEGN was established to address such open issues. Especially animated discussions on the nature of endonyms and exonyms are taking place with regard to multiethnic countries, and naming of extensive geographical phenomena that extend across the territories of several countries.
The contemporary standard geographical name for the Bay of Piran is Piranski zaliv. With the breakup of Yugoslavia the waters in the border region between Slovenia and Croatia became the focus of a border dispute between the two neighbouring countries. This paper presents the historical aspects of naming and renaming the bay in detail, especially with regard to the dissemination of the name Savudrijska vala in newspapers and even labels on Croatian maps, which are used aggressively by some Croatian politicians.
The international use of geographical names can be extremely sensitive and politically ticklish. However new geographical names issues are constantly emerging and it is almost impossible to make up a universal prescription. Typical examples of controversial geographical names are shorty elaborated: Piranski zaliv/Savudrijska vala (SLO-CRO), Macedonia/Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MAK-GRE), and East Sea/Sea of Japan (COR-JAP).
The oldest Slovenian world atlas is Matej Cigale’s Atlant (1869–1877), which was almost forgotten over time. At the end of the nineteenth century, this was followed by Fran Orožen’s school atlas for primary schools. The next product of this kind did not appear until 1941; it was intended for secondary-school students. Valter Bohinec was responsible for editing nativized foreign geographical names. These atlases reflected significant phases of nativization: first an emphatic use of Slavic names under the influence of Pan-Slavism, and later the influences of German, Serbo-Croatian, and Italian.