Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Some Really Weird Place Names

Who wants to go travel with me? --Amar


A few months ago, in my AP Human Geography class, my teacher showed us some really weird place names. We were learning about place names and how they reflect the cultural and physical aspects of the place, so it was not a discussion that came out of nowhere! Here are three of the weirdest place names:

1. Hell, Norway
Of course, Hell, Norway, wasn’t named Hell to emphasize how it’s a place for the eternally damned. The name comes from the Old Norse word hellir, which means “cliff.” Hell in Norwegian also means “luck.” What’s most amusing about this place name is that it’s really cold. Temperatures during winter can get to -20 degrees Celsius in Hell. All Hell has frozen over, after all.

2. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales I love long words, so this place name obviously caught my attention. This village was originally called “'Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll.” To get more publicity, it lengthened its name.
In English, the name means “St Mary's Church in a hollow of white hazel near the swirling whirlpool of the church of St Tysilio with a red cave.” It’s pronounced “Llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-chwurn-drob-ooll-llantus-ilio-gogo-goch.”

3. F*cking, Austria
Yes, this is an actual place. It’s pronounced “Foo-king.” The place was founded by someone named Focko in the sixth century. The Germanic suffix “-ing” was added to indicate that this village was the place of “Focko’s people.” After 20 years, the lord was Adalpertus de Fucingin. The spelling has evolved over the years, from Vucchingen to Fukching to its current spelling. This place was discovered by American and British soldiers stationed nearby after World War II. They took pictures of themselves standing next to the street signs, which, by the way, have been stolen so much by eager souvenir hunters that, in 2005, they were made theft-resistant. The village people didn’t get what the big deal was because they hadn’t known what it meant in English.

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