Paul - who brings friendly nonsense (blur_kiwi) wrote,
Paul - who brings friendly nonsense

What's in a name? - a column

What's in a name? Well quite a lot actually. Unable to sleep a couple of nights ago, I was listening to the radio. I like night-time radio, it's broadcast in a way that suggests the people doing the broadcasting don't think anyone's listening. It's sort of sloppy, yet engaging, amateur and professional all at the same time. Yet, the very fact that they're doing it at all suggests they believe there is an audience. And, of course, the fact that I'm listening tells me that there must be others out there as well. Interesting.

Anyway, there was a news story about a village in Wales. The village, according to the sign you see as you enter it on the road, is called Varteg. I'm sorry but this little bit might end up being a bit linguistically technical. Please bear with me, it will pass. In Welsh, the letter 'V' doesn't exist, and this means that the village name is an Anglicised version of, wait for it, Farteg. Now, the people of the village, their fellow countrymen and many others want the village to bear its Welsh name spelt the Welsh way. I'm inclined to wholeheartedly support that view. But there is some uproar from the prudish English living locally because they don't want to see the word 'fart' written loud and proud every time they drive through. Personally, I love the idea, and I hope to go there one day to see it for myself. I will chuckle, all the more in knowing that those prudish people probably aren't offended in the same way by the name Scunthorpe.

I love place names, and I especially love it when they're funny. I'm sure everywhere has funny place names, whether it's in the local language, in translation or an accidental rude word in a different language. There's a small Austrian town that has great difficulty keeping its signs because of its name. I'm sure you know the one I mean - it begins with 'F' and ends with 'ing', and it's not 'Farting'. And there are oodles of others all over the place. There has recently been a bit of a battle between the people who think they run Facebook and the people of an Irish town called Effing. The Effing people have triumphed, I'm glad to say.

I know there's a place in Kent called Thong - which, of course, means different things to different people. In Essex there's a village called Ugley. I love the thought that there might just be an Ugley Women's Institute. And again in Kent there's a Rough Common; the WI there would be interesting too. There are places called Twatt on both Orkney and Shetland. There's a holiday centre at a place in the New Forest in Hampshire called Sandy Balls. Dorset has a Shitterton and a River Piddle, which has spawned lots of Piddle place names too. I've been to Skinners Bottom in Cornwall, where, incidentally, the highest hill is called Brown Willy. Also in Cornwall, I once had a friend who lived at Jolly's Bottom. I've also been to Crapstone in Devon, where, presumably, the quarrying isn't that great. And I've been to Pant in Shropshire.

In deepest, darkest Lancashire there is Ramsbottom, and probably in even deeper, darker Lancashire nearby is Upper Ramsbottom! Talking of which, what happened in Assloss in Ayrshire? Or in Slackbottom in Yorkshire?

In Somerset we have some good ones too, not always rude (more's the pity) but certainly strange. Near Bristol Airport there is a village called Nempnett Thrubwell, and onother called Clapton in Gordano. Not far from where I live is Curry Rivel - ahh, the Indian food wars! And Four Forks (near Bridgwater) would come in very handy, all things considered.

One of my favourites is the village of Haselbury Plucknett, which is near Yeovil, as are Queen Camel and Camel Hill, though there aren't any camels there.

All of which leads me to ask you a very simple question. Have you got any near you, and what are your favourites from other places? Actually that's two questions.....

Tags: columns

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