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There is no country called France ... and other things


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Thanks to @The Hallucinating Goose's fury that the answer 'Hull' was allowed to stand without comment in place of Kingston-upon-Hull, I thought we needed a dedicated thread for quirks of placenames, geography and the like.

Things like the classics ... how the River Avon really just means "River River" as Avon comes from 'afon', the Welsh for ... river. How Aber- in Welsh place names means 'at the mouth of' but Aberystwyth is not at the mouth of the Ystwyth, it's at the mouth of the Rheidol.

Oh, and ... it appears that there isn't actually a country called France. There is "République française" which is more commonly known as France but ...

Any more for any more?

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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To be honest anyone in this country ordering a Panino would be deserving of a slap

Neither Ackroyd nor Landis are scientists, if Bob8 had written it, then it would have been correct "I have seen the absorption of light"

Not sure it fits your remit, but I know that Blackpool and Dublin basically means the same thing. 

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Let's see, a few off the top of my head;

A businessman called Robert Towns needed a port building in Queensland and so when the town was built it was named after him, the result being Townsville. As a result we have a place that, should you not know the origins of the name, you might think means Town Town. 

The Caspian Sea is geographically not a sea but a lake, however a convention held between the Caspian nations defined a number of the geographical features of the body of water so they knew precisely how much of the area they owned. The nations did not agree on the status of the sea/lake bed however, and as a result, in official terms at least, the Caspian Sea can neither be defined as a lake or a sea but simply a body of water. To complicate it further, ancient writings done by natives of the area refer to it as an ocean. God knows what the Caspian-Body-of-Water is then! 

Despite Gran Canaria being called as such it is not the grandest of the Canary Islands. Tenerife is actually the largest and most populated Canary Island. It would be like calling the Isle of Man, Great Britain. 

Fun this, more to come! 👍

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As someone with a born-and-raised Shetland grandfather, I am disappointed (aka irritated) by the frequency with which people - including in the media where they should have style guides to help them get it right - refer to 'The Shetlands'.  No!  Just 'Shetland' (or 'the Shetland Isles' or '..Islands')

Maybe I should just accept the erroneous practice and tell people that I live near Salisbury, which is in the south of The Englands!

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There's a village in West Cumbria near where In grew up called Torpenhow - local pronunciation is tr'penn'e (thats as near as I can get to how its spoken) but thats for a different thread

Tor means hill, Pen means hill and How means hill. So its, hill, hill, hill. Some are sure there's a Torpenhow Hill, but it doesn't exist

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13 minutes ago, Wiltshire Warrior Dragon said:

As someone with a born-and-raised Shetland grandfather, I am disappointed (aka irritated) by the frequency with which people - including in the media where they should have style guides to help them get it right - refer to 'The Shetlands'.  No!  Just 'Shetland' (or 'the Shetland Isles' or '..Islands')

Maybe I should just accept the erroneous practice and tell people that I live near Salisbury, which is in the south of The Englands!

Explaining what to call the island on which we were standing - "This is the Mainland" - was something which pretty much every Shetlander we met when me and Mrs Ginger went there on Honeymoon seemed to think it was their duty to do.

We also went to Papa Stour for a day and met some people who were, a couple of years later, in the news because of an epic falling out amongst that tiny island's tiny population which culminated in buckets of sewage being thrown over people. 

Edited by gingerjon
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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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Just now, hindle xiii said:

There's no such thing as a fish.

But you can still spell it "ghoti".

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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... then there’s the lakes in the Lake District... there’s sixteen of them...

Only Bassenthwaite Lake is officially a lake by name the others are meres or waters.

eg Windermere rather than Lake Windermere. To be fair to common sense though saying that does distinguish it from the town of Windermere which is not a lake!

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4 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

Explaining what to call the island on which we were standing - "This is the Mainland" - was something which pretty much every Shetlander we met when me and Mrs Ginger went there on Honeymoon seemed to think it was their duty to do.

We also went to Papa Stour for a day and met some people who were, a couple of years later, in the news because of an epic falling out amongst that tiny island's tiny population which culminated in buckets of sewage being thrown over people. 

Commendable choice of honeymoon location...unless you went in early summer and wanted a romantically dark bedroom at night!!  Less romantically, I can recall once reading the local paper, The Shetland Times, in my hotel room at midnight in mid-June, with no light on and without straining my eyes!

Yes, some Papa Stour folk didn't exactly cover themselves in glory, I'm afraid.

On my first Shetland holiday, in conversation with our caravan's owner, who was the local councillor, I unwisely referred to Shetland as being 'remote'.  Very politely, he picked me up on this.  He pointed out that, for them, it was Edinburgh and London that were remote.  I have never forgotten that and nowadays tend to think that 'remoteness', like beauty, is clearly in the eye of the beholder!

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1 hour ago, Maximus Decimus said:

Not sure it fits your remit, but I know that Blackpool and Dublin basically means the same thing. 

Yeah I knew that too! It's something like Dark Pool. Without googling it's something like Dubh means dark or black and Lihn means pool or water. In Gaelic obvs.

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32 minutes ago, shaun mc said:

 

 

There's a village in West Cumbria near where In grew up called Torpenhow - local pronunciation is tr'penn'e (thats as near as I can get to how its spoken) but thats for a different thread

Tor means hill, Pen means hill and How means hill. So its, hill, hill, hill. Some are sure there's a Torpenhow Hill, but it doesn't exist

My grammar school (it was then anyway) St Bede's had a sort of outdoor adventure place at Torpenhow. You went for a week and did things like canoeing and orienteering etc.

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1 hour ago, Wiltshire Warrior Dragon said:

 

Maybe I should just accept the erroneous practice and tell people that I live near Salisbury, which is in the south of The Englands!

Is that where That London is?

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Ron Banks

Bears and Barrow

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1 hour ago, Bearman said:

Is that where That London is?

Following on from how Dublin comes from Dubh Linn (but isn't called Dubh Linn in Irish), here's a whole page explaining that nobody really knows why London is called London.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_London

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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Above all these, we have a roundabout near me in Bradford that is called Five Lane Ends. The real scandal is that there are actually SIX Lanes there! There was originally 5 but one was added in the 1930’s or so but the traditional name stuck. 

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Talking about the Lake District, Ordnance Survey currently marks the summit of one of the Northern Fells as ‘Saddleback or Blencathra’. ( you can take your pick)  It used to be called Saddleback, but the author Alfred Wainwright popularised the use of the old  Cumbrian name, Blencathra, and no one has actually made a decision what to officially call it. It also has six summits.

Edit - Just remembered an article that appeared in our local paper a couple of years ago about place names and how they change. There used to be an area on the outskirts of St Albans called Seven Horseshoes. It got its name from a pub called the Three Horseshoes that was directly opposite a pub called the Four Horseshoes. Eventually the Four Horseshoes was demolished, and almost overnight the area stopped being called the Seven Horseshoes, and wasn't even called the Three Horseshoes either, the name just stopped being used and fell out of use.  Strange how some names stay in use for generations and others just disappear, 

Edited by Exiled Townie
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Jam Eater  1.(noun. jam eeter) A Resident of Whitehaven or Workington. Offensive.  It is now a term of abuse that both towns of West Cumbria use for each other especially at Workington/Whitehaven rugby league derby matches.

St Albans Centurions Website 

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3 hours ago, Wiltshire Warrior Dragon said:

Commendable choice of honeymoon location...unless you went in early summer and wanted a romantically dark bedroom at night!!

Thankfully not. We went in early September. Flight to Aberdeen and then the overnight ferry. Mrs Ginger remembers very clearly that it got a bit rough in the crossing and so I found her a nice comfortable seat in the bar so she could settle herself. She doubted the honesty of my intentions when she realised the new table had a prime view of the TV showing that evening's live Super League game.

Stayed in Lerwick and Spiggie in Shetland and then to Orkney where we sojourned in Kirkwall, Stromness and Hoy. All good fun.

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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16 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

Thankfully not. We went in early September. Flight to Aberdeen and then the overnight ferry. Mrs Ginger remembers very clearly that it got a bit rough in the crossing and so I found her a nice comfortable seat in the bar so she could settle herself. She doubted the honesty of my intentions when she realised the new table had a prime view of the TV showing that evening's live Super League game.

Stayed in Lerwick and Spiggie in Shetland and then to Orkney where we sojourned in Kirkwall, Stromness and Hoy. All good fun.

Glad you enjoyed it, GJ.  My family roots were maybe a bit too far north for you to visit - two of the three most northerly inhabited (in modern times) islands in Shetland, namely Yell and Fetlar.

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4 minutes ago, Wiltshire Warrior Dragon said:

Glad you enjoyed it, GJ.  My family roots were maybe a bit too far north for you to visit - two of the three most northerly inhabited (in modern times) islands in Shetland, namely Yell and Fetlar.

Went to Yell. Even had lunch at the - my memory says Wind Dog Cafe - in Gutcher(?). Didn’t go to Fetlar but did make it to Skaw at the top of Unst.

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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56 minutes ago, Exiled Townie said:

 

Edit - Just remembered an article that appeared in our local paper a couple of years ago about place names and how they change. There used to be an area on the outskirts of St Albans called Seven Horseshoes. It got its name from a pub called the Three Horseshoes that was directly opposite a pub called the Four Horseshoes. Eventually the Four Horseshoes was demolished, and almost overnight the area stopped being called the Seven Horseshoes, and wasn't even called the Three Horseshoes either, the name just stopped being used and fell out of use.  Strange how some names stay in use for generations and others just disappear, 

We were at a pub quiz. Charlie hadn't got one answer all night.

Finally he got one. What is the name of the pub on the corner of Red Lane and Stoney Stanton Rd?

Unfortunately Charlie had a bit of a stammer. But he blurted out in a voice thst everyone could hear " Thr thr three horseshoes!

Sid, quick as a flash said

" you prat, there is no such pub as the Nine horseshoes"

Edited by Bearman
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Ron Banks

Bears and Barrow

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4 hours ago, Graham said:

... then there’s the lakes in the Lake District... there’s sixteen of them...

Only Bassenthwaite Lake is officially a lake by name the others are meres or waters.

eg Windermere rather than Lake Windermere. To be fair to common sense though saying that does distinguish it from the town of Windermere which is not a lake!

And the town a lot of visitors think is Windermere is Bowness, Windermere (Town) isn't by the lake.

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4 minutes ago, Padge said:

And the town a lot of visitors think is Windermere is Bowness, Windermere (Town) isn't by the lake.

One of my pet hates is when people put the stress on the "ness"

It's FURness, BOWness and PENrith. The stress is always on the first syllable not the last syllable in lake district names.

BBC newsreaders please note.

Ron Banks

Bears and Barrow

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8 minutes ago, Bearman said:

One of my pet hates is when people put the stress on the "ness"

It's FURness, BOWness and PENrith. The stress is always on the first syllable not the last syllable in lake district names.

BBC newsreaders please note.

And I think I am right in saying, Bearman, that it is also CARlisle.  In my experience, BBC (and other British) newsreaders can be very bad at how they pronounce British place names.  Or perhaps they think how the locals pronounce it doesn't matter.

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1 hour ago, Johnoco said:

Above all these, we have a roundabout near me in Bradford that is called Five Lane Ends. The real scandal is that there are actually SIX Lanes there! There was originally 5 but one was added in the 1930’s or so but the traditional name stuck. 

Didn't know that trying to work them out.

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