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They called it What?

Quaint British towns and villages with ridiculous names
  (+5)
(+5)
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Staines? Dorking? Leatherhead? Mousehole? Towcester?

It wasn’t until an American friend pointed out that some town names in the UK are baffling, bizarre, and frankly ridiculous. I hadn’t even noticed - they were just places to me.

This is an add-on service for Google Maps (or such) that provides a spoken etymology of those strange place- names when they’re picked on the map.

For instance: *Hackney - (HAK-nee), Old English, though to originate from Hakka, a Saxon surname, and Ey, an island*

The database would be a wiki-like open collaboration, allowing knowledgeable natives to provide names and histories.

In addition, we have a problem in the uk with the rise in number of “new” towns and villages to the extent that we’ve run out of place names and old ones are getting re- used, causing no end of confusion. The extended service could use the database to generate new names to meet the growing demand.

Ultimately this service would ensure that visiting tourists would be comfortable knowing that they weren’t being mocked when being given dubious sounding directions:

“Take the third exit to Hampster, left at the Knibble T- junction, three miles past Arsehat…”

No sniggering at the back!

I’m off to Twatt now.

Frankx, Sep 04 2021

Twatt https://en.wikipedi.../wiki/Twatt,_Orkney
Yes, really! [Frankx, Sep 04 2021]

Bell End https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_End
[Frankx, Sep 04 2021]

Sherford, Devon. The new one. http://sherford.org/
Doh! There’s already a Sherford, Devon, barely 20 miles away. Get your own name ya thieving b**tards. [Frankx, Sep 04 2021]

Dildo, Newfoundland https://en.wikipedi...ndland_and_Labrador
[Frankx, Sep 04 2021]

The Meaning of Liff https://www.amazon....026-9357468-2004468
Alternative approach to this problem. From Douglas Adams et al. [tatterdemalion, Sep 04 2021]

Mousehole https://en.m.wikipe...i/The_Mousehole_Cat
[pertinax, Sep 04 2021]

Washington https://en.wikipedi...Washington_Old_Hall
[Frankx, Sep 05 2021]

Tongue Loanen https://commons.m.w...org.uk_-_782962.jpg
My favourite place name [xenzag, Sep 05 2021]

https://www.notting...oups/ins/index.aspx Just to point out that place-name-studies is a well established academic discipline. There are published print and online dictionaries where you could look this stuff up. Fun as it is to giggle like gawky teenagers... [pocmloc, Sep 05 2021]

[link]






       Well Lard tundr'n Jeez bye, welcome to Dildo Newfoundland.   

       Wow, that’s real? [link] Clearly so.
Frankx, Sep 04 2021
  

       Get yourself a copy of John Dodgson's 'Home Town: What's Behind The Name?'. Available on Amazon for US$75 or Ebay for £1.50. It's not exactly comprehensive but does give you exactly this info for a lot of places in the UK.

Alternatively, & much more fun, get yourself an Old English & Anglo-Saxon language course & work out what the names mean yourself!
DrBob, Sep 04 2021
  

       What
pocmloc, Sep 04 2021
  

       //Alternatively, & much more fun//   

       Rarely as easy as that [Bob], lengthy research of the names slow mutation through musty tomes & records ranging from the merely old to the positively ancient of an adequate nature to secure a masters is often a companion necessity to knowing the language in which it was originally named.   

       Oh, and it's handy to know what language it was originally named in b4 you start, not always safe to assume you know when it was founded or even that it was named in the locale language of the time you've assumed it was, that can be a whole other doctorate.   

       Imagine your chagrin having postulated at length on your favoured etymological source of the name of the hamlet of Bad Ass, only to be advised by a locale that it was established a mere ten years ago & named whimsically by a Discworld fan.
Skewed, Sep 04 2021
  

       //it's handy to know what language it was originally named in//

For British place names you can pick up on that quite easily in many cases. Anything ending in '-ing' means 'the people of'. So Dorking is the people of Dork. I have to admit that I had to look up the Dork (Dorce) bit to find out that it is a river. '-cester' is a fort or strong place, so Towcester is the strong place on the River Tow.

It helps to be a bit of a Tolkien geek as he was deeply into old languages & the 'boring' appendices in his books are littered with Old English examples.(e.g. the Rohirrim were the Eorlingas. The people of Eorl).

I am happy to admit complete ignorance about 'Mousehole' though!
  

       //Imagine your chagrin having postulated at length//

In those situations, I find it best to just try & bluff it out! :)
One of the things that I've learned over time is that if you say something with enough confidence, & seeming authority, people will believe you even in the face of their own certain knowledge. A bit depressing really.
DrBob, Sep 04 2021
  

       //Anything ending in '-ing' means 'the people of//   

       There's an inlet of the North Sea called The Wash. It's people are the Washings.Their town is, I'm told, a quiet, friendly one-pub community.
pertinax, Sep 04 2021
  

       //complete ignorance about 'Mousehole'//   

       The aetiological myth for that name is recounted in a children's book (see link).
pertinax, Sep 04 2021
  

       Good lord.   

       The US Capital could have been “Heartburn”, but for some quirky geordie Englishness [link]
Frankx, Sep 05 2021
  

       … and Boston was once “St Botolph’s-tun”.
Frankx, Sep 05 2021
  

       //Sherford, Devon//
Perhaps they're expecting the two to merge as (inevitable?) expansion of the outer suburbs takes place?
neutrinos_shadow, Sep 05 2021
  

       Greetings from the settlement of Deornoth's people. Not far away are Wideopen, Pity Me, and Wham.   

       Perhaps, while discussing bizarre placenames, your American friend would consider the village of Quonochontaug, which takes its name - as do many in that region - from the local native language.   

       (Incidentally, I will shortly be visiting Mousehole; on the way, I will pass close to both Catbrain and Dog Village.)
angel, Sep 06 2021
  

       Wait a minute...I just saw a ghost. That's not possible, is it?
blissmiss, Sep 06 2021
  

       //settlement of Deonorth's people//   

       Home of Cleveland Bridge co. is it not? I knew an engineer from there, built the Lantau bridge in HK.   

       //Wideopen, Pity Me and Wham// - new to me.
Frankx, Sep 06 2021
  

       Hi angel. Good to hear from you again!

Whilst searching the map for Pity Me, I discovered that between PityMe & Rock (which is just south of Porthilly), is the excellently named Splatt. There's the plot of a good story there, I think.
DrBob, Sep 06 2021
  

       …and hello again angel!
Frankx, Sep 06 2021
  

       Hey [angel].   

       There's a town I was at when I was a kid called; Where He Got His Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, Alberta.   

       Later shrunk down to just Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump since it's pretty obvious where he got his head smashed in.   

       My personal favorite is the old town of Neversink, NY. Currently under 34 billion gallons of water. The root is actually an Algonquin word meaning something like "mad river", which is what was dammed to make the reservoir.
MechE, Sep 07 2021
  

       //My personal favorite is the old town of Neversink, NY.//   

       Now to be renamed "Titanic, NY"?   

       My favorite in the UK is Shilbottle a few miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne. It's so routinely graffitied the sign usually reads: "Shitbottle". Some have suggested it's twinned with "Bouteille de Merde", France and "Sheisseflashce", Germany.
bs0u0155, Sep 07 2021
  

       //complete ignorance about 'Mousehole'//   

       My only knowledge of the place is that you're not supposed to pronounce it as 'Mouse Hole' but more something like 'Moozle'.   

       By the way, [2Fries], that's an EXCELLENT transcribing of the Newfie accent.
AusCan531, Sep 08 2021
  

       Hi, guys.   

       [Frankz], Cleveland Bridge also built the Tamar Bridge from Devon to Cornwall (which I will be using soon {and incidentally, the father of a friend of mine was involved in the design}) and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.   

       [Dr Bob], that's a different Pity Me; mine is in County Durham.   

       (Mention of the Titanic prompts me to note that the rudder blocks for that ship and its stable-mates were made in the settlement of Deornoth's people, about half a mile from my house.)
angel, Sep 09 2021
  

       + I’ve had to read this so many times before I could lend a croissant to the pile! It’s amazing and great and everyone has such wonderful knowledge.   

       My dad used to teach me how they named places like if it was Bridge-port , Near the sea with the bridge etc.That’s logical.   

       I also grew up in New England with many Indian names and even though they might sound strange, I don’t always know what they mean.   

       As far as graffiti goes, my favorite was Athol, when someone placed an R in front and an E at the end.
xandram, Sep 10 2021
  

       I was driving along the N59 and someone had graffitied the sign to Porridgetown by scrawling "yum yum"   

       (as an aside, I didn't know until I looked it up just now but Porridgetown is a small area within the larger division called Wormhole)
pocmloc, Sep 11 2021
  

       //that's an EXCELLENT transcribing of the Newfie accent.//   

       Thanks eh. Worked with more than my share of newfies. Crazy fuckers... no insult intended.   

       If I'd been going for the full-rock experience I would have pronounced it Newf'nlaind, but only a few of us would have understood.   

       ...truedatbye.   

       [angel] - //Tamar Bridge// aha, I know it well. Enjoy your stay in Kernow. Some excellent place names there!
Frankx, Sep 17 2021
  
      
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