This little squib from the Telegraph is basically an excuse to publicize a bunch of naughty-sounding place names (and “This is not the Soviet Union” is pure Torygraph—hey, guys, there hasn’t been a USSR for over twenty years now), but I enjoy naughty-sounding place names as much as the next language lover, and I thoroughly agree with the point about names being what the people use and not what bien-pensant betters think they should be, so I’m passing it along:
The people of Cornwall, or some of them, want to change the name of Brown Willy on Bodmin Moor, at 1,378ft, the highest point in the Duchy. The motive is to stop people sniggering. It is pointed out that in Cornish the name is Bronn Wennili, “hill of swallows”, which has pleasant associations. But can place names simply be changed? This is not the Soviet Union. Places are what people call them. If we are the first generation of adults who, like the comic book character Finbarr Saunders, see double entendres everywhere, what is to become of Great Cockup and Little Cockup in Cumbria; Crapstone, Devon; Penistone, South Yorkshire; Brokenwind, Aberdeenshire; Shitterton, Dorset; North Piddle, Worcestershire; Nether Peover, Cheshire; Slack Bottom, West Yorkshire; Pratts Bottom, Kent; and Titty Hill in West Sussex?