Via a NY Times “Lede” post (thanks, Bonnie!), I learned about the Atlas of True Names:

The Atlas of True Names reveals the etymological roots, or original meanings, of the familiar terms on today’s maps of the World and Europe. For instance, where you would normally expect to see the Sahara indicated, the Atlas gives you “Sea of Sand”, derived from Arab. es-sahra “desert, sea of sand”. The ‘True Names’ of 1500 cities, countries, rivers, oceans and mountain ranges are displayed on these two fascinating maps, each of which includes a comprehensive index of derivations.

Etymology, (OGr. etymon “true sense” and logos “speech, oration, discourse, word”) is the study of the origin and history of words. For the first time, the Atlas of True Names uses etymology to give us an unusual insight into familiar geographical names – with intriguing results……

The linked webpage shows closeups of a couple of areas of the map, North America and Britain/Ireland, and it looks like a lot of fun: Florida becomes “Blossoming Land,” Chicago “Stink Onion,” and so on. And when the names are unchanged, like Oakland, you find yourself contemplating the literal meaning of the name for the first time, perhaps, since you were a kid.

Now, it goes without saying that not all the etymologies are cast-iron, and some are pretty dubious (“I Don’t Understand You!” for Yucatan); much is made of this in the Language Log post about the map, but this is nitpicking. Anyone who gets seriously interested can find more authoritative references. Furthermore, a couple of commenters there complain that giving deep etymological origins of toponyms derived from other toponyms is misleading: “Even if York means “Wild Boar Village”, the people who named New York (a) didn’t know, (b) didn’t care…” But the idea is not to provide an analysis of the history of the name but to give the earliest available meaning for the name. It’s a thought experiment and mind-joggler, not an awe-inspiring work of reference, and for what it is, it seems to be very well done (they provide a list of all the etymologies they used). Intelligent, well-constructed fun is a good thing.


  1. John Emerson says

    New Munich, Minnesota (pop. 352) was not named after Munich, Germany. It as named after Munich, Minnesota, a mile or two away (now a ghost town). It was Munich, Minnesota which was named after Munich, Germany.
    It’s amazing how many people get this wrong.

  2. Can wer call these Minnesota jokes minnehahas?

  3. Sadly, the atlas seems to be pretty lacking in my geographic area of interest, Eastern Europe. But still, a cool idea.
    I liked the bit on the Language Log site about the origins of the word “kangaroo,” primarily because it caused me to locate my CD of the Red Crayola’s Lora Logic-sung title track, which is a neat little history of Captain Cook’s ‘discovery’ of the animal, with the lyrics:
    “No one knew what the creature was.
    Some men were sent ashore because
    animals must have a name,
    and the natives knew the game.”
    . . .
    “The truth emerged much later when,
    on trips by less resourceful men,
    the Aborigines told those who’d come to stay
    that “kangaroo” meant “What did you say?”

  4. There’s also this:
    Is this the same thing you’re linking to? I was thinking about sending it to you but I thought you’d turn your nose up at it.

  5. Yup, that’s the one—here‘s the direct link (there are five sections of the map there, plus one of the planets). Why would I turn my nose up? I wish I’d thought of it myself!

  6. Amman is “Town of the Unsearchable”…could that be a reference to their chaotic street address system? And is that Jerusalem that is “Struggling with God”? In Amman they call it al-Quds, at least the pious do; it’s supposed to mean the Holy City.

  7. ‘Struggling with God’ would be the folk-etymology of ישראל Israel from Gen 32:28, wouldn’t it?

  8. Say, is it just me or does the map give the meaning of etymon as ‘true sence’ [sic]?

  9. John Emerson says

    A good fingering video is worth paying for, in my opinion. The free ones are hardly even worth your time, due to the crude manicules and inept, ineffective fingering.

  10. ‘Struggling with God’ would be the folk-etymology of ישראל Israel from Gen 32:28, wouldn’t it?
    Looks like it. Jerusalem means either “Foundation Of Shalem” (a Ugaritic god) or in Hebrew “Rain of Peace”.

  11. John Emerson says

    How long have they had to make up their minds? I think that we should give it an unambiguous name, perhaps Oldtown or Godville.

  12. There’s a “Land of the Hat People” north of Frankford in the German map. Didn’t know Hat People were a tribe ….

  13. Hat People: Yup, a tribe. Latin Chatti, current German Hessen, so they’ve been there for 2000 years at least. Betcha “Hat People” is a folk etymology.

  14. My people!
    That must be Hesse(n), and looking at a normal map I see that just north of Frankfort is Bad Homburg. It all makes sense…

  15. (Pipped by Gary.)

  16. Didn’t know Hat People were a tribe ….
    Didn’t know? Surely you’re aware that you MUST be wearing of the five designated LH hats (all available for purchase in the sidebar) whenever you leave a comment, right?
    I’m afraid things have gotten a little loose around here.

  17. Crown, A.J.P. says

    That’s one bad Homburg.

  18. John Emerson says

    Son of Old Man Hat.
    I almost bought this one for Mr. Hat here as a prank gift, but my understanding is that if he gets one more book his floor will collapse, and I don’t want to be responsible for that.
    I want him to be responsible for that.

  19. A.J.P. Crown says

    I see it’s by Walter Dyk.

  20. ‘Gentle one’ for Seine?? Wikipedia has ‘sacred river’.
    If ‘gentle’ is right … Celan, oh Celan.

  21. ‘Gentle one’ for Seine??
    My favorite place-name etymology book (by E. M. Pospelov, who I just discovered died last year) says it has been said to derive from Celtic *sog-han ‘peaceful river’ (citing Nikonov 1966) but that it may simply be from the name of the Sequani.

  22. Sorry Jamessal, Akubras trump Stetsons any time …
    (Uses woomera again)

  23. See Update #2 on my LL post for some correspondence from Stephan Hormes.
    I feel properly chastised… when the good Mr. Hat says you’re nitpicking, then you know you’re nitpicking!

  24. John Emerson says

    Chastened? You’re the winner and now champion! You outnitpicked The Hat himself.

  25. Very interesting that they got rather playfully got Newton from Naples. Let’s face it, New Town might be more accurate, but Newton is more fun. As for Currenton….. Sorry, I don’t see it.

  26. Kári Tulinius says

    I could have sworn that York was derived from the Old Norse “Jórvík” (Horse-bay) and not “Eboracum.” Am I completely off base here?
    Incidentally, in Iceland almost every place name has a transparent meaning.

  27. I could have sworn that York was derived from the Old Norse “Jórvík” (Horse-bay) and not “Eboracum.”
    Old Norse jórvík would have evolved into English Yorwich, as in Norwich, Ipswich and other names ending in -wich, situated in the former Danelaw.

  28. A.J.P. Crown says

    I don’t know, Marie-Lucie. The Norwegian pronunciation of -vik can in some cases almost leave out the ‘v’. I can easily see Jor-ik becoming York.

  29. AJP, in English the w in such words is not pronounced either. The (almost) loss of v or w occurred/is occurring long after the time the words were first written.
    When doing historical linguistic work you can’t just rely on one instance, you have to consider other words of the same type, where similar correspondences occur between parts of words (in this case -vik and -wich) and between sounds in given positions (in this case v and w after a consonant). The name of York, a city situated in the same general area as the -wich names, cannot be considered in isolation. It does look more like jórvík than like Eboracum (the -um is a Latin addition to a Celtic word), but the resemblance to the Norse word must be a coincidence given the usual correspondence of -vik to -wich.
    Linking York to Eboracum is not something done out of the blue by starry-eyed linguists. Ancient names of existing places in Western Europe are recorded in many documents written in Latin, dating from the Roman Empire or even earlier, and also much later, and for England, also in Old English. York is a very ancient city, and its name is recorded as Eboracum from the Roman period, when the languages of the British Isles were Celtic ones, long before the Germanic invasion imposed a Germanic language, and centuries before the Viking conquest of the Danelaw created a series of towns with the -wich names.
    Incidentally, the original Celtic root ebor- is also found in France, as the evr- in the name of the city Evreux.

  30. There really was a Viking Jórvík; it’s a tourist trap now. But that and Eoforwíc ‘wild boar town’ are both folk etymologies for Celtic Eburacum, as marie-lucie says.

  31. York
    Here’s one summary:

    This city was originally named by the Celts after the Yew tree. The Yew was Efrawg in Brythonic, Efrog in Welsh, Eabhrac in Irish Gaelic, Iorc in Scottish Gaelic, and Eboracum/Eburacum in Latin (after the Romans seized it). The next people to assume ownership of the city assumed that the earlier name meant ” boar” because the way it sounded to them like the Germanic “Eber-“/”Ever-“, which is why the Deira Angles translated the local names into Eofer-wic/Eofor-wic for their capital which became Northumbria’s centre of power later on. The Swedes and their Norse counterparts just assumed that the city’s local name was the way they should format their term for it, thus calling it Jorvik (pronounced Yor-vik in modern English), which eventually changed to York after the Normans introduced their hybridised tongue to the land. “Wic”/”Vik” means a fishing port, most notably in an estuary so could also be described a river port. See Viking.
    also see wiktionary:
    “Tourist trap”?–oh, I love York. Anything with a medieval wall and a Gothic cathedral has my vote. The Viking center in MMcM’s link is an actual archaeological dig (which when they dug down to it, ended up being part of two shops and an outdoor toilet)–right next to it you can see their concept of what it actually looked like a thousand years ago or so, complete with thoroughly researched smells (which is a bit much for my taste) and upstairs they have the artifacts unearthed there preserved in a small museum. Of course the town is overrun with reeactors. The week before my visit I was told the town festival had featured a Viking burial complete with burning a Viking ship at sea.

    Scandinavians tended to blend into whatever culture they were in. Studies of British place names show the Scandinavians took less desirable and more remote land rather than displacing the original inhabitants. But York was THE Viking town, it might have retained more of its Viking influence.

  32. p.s. It seems that I wrote too soon! I should read Wikipedia before posting comments. This is what it says about York, but I still have comments:
    [The city was started by the Romans as] Eboracum. After the Angles moved in, the city was renamed Eoferwic
    The Romans would not have named a new town with the Celtic name
    Eboracum if there had not already been a settlement with this name on the place they chose for a larger centre. There is no need to invoke a hypothetical Germanic population on the spot at that time. The Angle name Eoferwic (with f pronounced v between vowels) shows the root Ebor- (which they may have reinterpreted as their word for “boar”) preserved with the change of suffix from the Celtic -ac to the Germanic -wic, both designating place names. Weakening of of b to v is an extremely common change between vowels, and the initial diphthong eo is also compatible with an earlier e.
    The Vikings captured the city in 866, renaming it Jórvík
    The Vikings did not actually rename the city but adapted the pronunciation of the name to their own speech, since -wic and -vik have the same origin. The Anglo-Saxon f/v would have been lost by that time, or on its way out.
    Around the year 1000, the city became known as York.
    I think that the city must already have been known locally as York which would be a natural evolution from the Angle Eoferwic, after the loss of the f/v and of the w, and the evolution of eo into yo (written j in Norwegian).
    My new conclusion (subject to revisions by Germanic specialists): both Eboracum and Jorvik must have contributed to the current name of the city, Eborac- being the original Celtic name (as shown by the suffix -ac-) and Eoforwic and Jorvik adaptations of the same word by different conquerors and at different times, between which the name evolved along with the rest of the language(s).
    To my mind, York is more likely to be a direct descendant from Angle Eoforwic than from Viking Jorvik: Old English (also known as “Anglo-Saxon”) f between vowels first became v, then was lost altogether (as in head from OE heafod, or lord from OE hlaf-weard literally ‘bread-guard’, which also shows the loss of w after a consonant, as in modern answer and Norwich). It seems unlikely that the Norse -vik would have lost its v at that time, as its position after a consonant would have preserved it.
    As for the -wich names, they seem to date from a later period.

  33. I wrote the above before reading Nijma’s quotation. I disagree with one thing in that quote:
    [Jorvik] which eventually changed to York after the Normans introduced their hybridised tongue to the land.
    If by “the Normans” are meant the new set of Vikings, now French-speaking, who came over from Normandy (their chief was not just any old pirate but one of the potential heirs to the throne), they could not have changed Jorvik to York, as there has never been anything to justify such as change in the structure of the French language. It was after the Norman conquest that English became a “hybridised tongue”, with many changes in vocabulary and grammar but little change in place names. For instance, the capital was known in Latin as Londinum, an adaptation of a Celtic name, and the French name ended up as Londres, but obviously the capital was not rebaptized with the French form of its name, any more than most other places in England. Note also that Wikipedia dates the official name York from about the year 1000, before the conquest, not after it.

  34. A.J.P. Crown says

    So why did we lose the W in Norwich, but not in Ipswich or Sandwich or most of the other wiches? And where incidentally is this Sandwich that the Earl got his title from? When I was about seven I used to think that there were two places, ‘Norwich’ that I saw on signposts and ‘Norridge’ that we used to visit.
    Jortun is nowadays a well-known brand of paint.

  35. The Yew was Efrawg in Brythonic, Efrog in Welsh, Eabhrac in Irish Gaelic, Iorc in Scottish Gaelic,
    Doesn’t Iorc look a likely origin for York ?… asks a non-linguist.

  36. marie-lucie says

    So why did we lose the W in Norwich, but not in Ipswich or Sandwich
    Probably because in Norwich the w is after an r, as in Warwick pronounced as Warrick. Sometimes the conditioning of a change is very specific, then it often spreads to something more general (such as after all consonants).
    The Yew was Efrawg in Brythonic, Efrog in Welsh, Eabhrac in Irish Gaelic, Iorc in Scottish Gaelic. Doesn’t Iorc look a likely origin for York ?
    The two names look similar but they are both the end-points of separate evolutions in the course of centuries, probably from the same ancient root. The efr-, eabhr-, ior- parts correspond to the ebor- in Eboracum. Similar changes have occurred in the Celtic and Germanic languages.

  37. About -wic place names form Julian Richards Viking Age England:
    “In Middle Saxon England most trade was conducted at large wics or camps, such as Hamwic (Southampton) and Eoforwic (York), on the south and east coasts. These sites apparently developed under royal patronage, so that the traders could be protected and controlled, and royal taxes levies….The location of such markets along the Thames is indicated by wic place-names, such as Chiswick, Greenwich, Woolwich and Twickenham…. In London, the extensive Saxon settlement of Lundenwic was located in the Strand area….The names used to refer to London also show a change from Lundenwic in the early ninth century to Lundenburh in the later ninth century,m with a short period of overlap in the 850’s….The transition from wics to burh reflects a fundamental change in the economic system. In the eighth century one means by which Anglo-Saxon kings maintained royal power was by restricting the activities of foreign traders and levying tolls on controlled exchange in wics.” As kings consolidated power, the burh became important as centers for defense, as market centers, and had an economic role of controlling trade though coinage.
    Iorc in Scottish Gaelic
    As far as the role of Scotland in the renaming of York, when the kings were consolidating that power, Scotland had a new and more powerful role. Whether it extended as far south as York, someone else can try to google.

  38. marie-lucie says

    Why would a Scottish king have renamed a city with a word meaning yew in his language, just because the current name was similar (thereby hiding any true renaming)? Was giving towns and cities the names of trees (without an element indicating “place”) a custom in Scotland? Are there examples of Scottish renaming of English places? and of such renaming enduring under subsequent rulers?
    Renaming of cities, streets, etc is not done at random: it occurs under changing political or at least cultural conditions, usually with changes of regime, with new names reflecting a desire to eliminate references to earlier regimes or figures and substituting new ones relating to new conditions: the recent history of some city names in Russia provides a number of illustrations. The changes in the name of the city of York do not qualify, as they are adaptations of the original name to the different languages of the occupants, together with the results of local language evolution.
    London, Londonwich, Londonburgh: I did not know about the words or suffixes of Germanic origin (-wich, -burgh) added at some point to the original Celtic name of the city. It is interesting to see that these suffixes were short-lived in this case, leaving the original Celtic name with little modification (unlike for instance in the name of Edinburgh).
    Back to what I wrote before, I see that I oversimplified the distribution of the -wich names in England. They seem to occur all over the place, meaning that they must be of Anglo-Saxon and not Norse origin, although ultimately deriving from the same Proto-Germanic source as Norwegian -vik.

  39. More from Richards:
    types of Scandinavian place names identified in Domesday Book 1)place names ending in -by a Scandinavian word denoting any kind of settlement 2)place name ending in -thorp indicating secondary settlement 3)’Grimson hybrids’ combining a Viking personal name with an Anglo-Saxon element like -ton or -hide 4)changes in pronunciation of Anglo-Saxon place names to avoid un-Scandiniavian sounds i.e. Shipton=>Skipton, Cheswick=>Keswick.

    Few place-names are recorded before the Domesday Book of 1086, some 200 years after the Scandinavian settlement, and as distant from them as we are from Napoleon….Indeed the people responsible for naming a settlement will not ussually be those living in it but those from neighboring sites who need to refer to it or tax it. Thus the name Ingleby by might suggest a village of Angles named by Danes, whilst the name Danby might be a settlement of Danes referred to by Anglo-Saxons!

    Vik in old Icelandic means creek; the name Vik is also the area around Oslofjord, and might refer to someone from that area, the verb vikya means “to turn aside” and may refer to expats, the víkigr is a warrior or pirate, víking is an expedition.
    Jorvik was a Viking kingdom until 954 when the last king Eric Bloodaxe was chased out and it was merged with Northumbria, an Earldom of England. It had Norse Earls for a while, then Norman ones.
    Wikipedia–“York”: “Jórvík was reduced to York in the centuries after the Norman Conquest, moving from the Middle English Yerk to Yourke in the 14th century through to Yourke in the 16th and then Yarke in the 17th century. The form York is first found in the 13th century.

  40. A.J.P. Crown says

    Was giving towns and cities the names of trees (without an element indicating “place”) a custom in Scotland?
    I don’t know, but our closest town is Asker. It’s at least 1,000 years old, and it means ash trees in Norwegian. There’s a well-known Icelandic pop singer called Björk, which means birch (tree), and Rowan is a Scottish first name.

  41. Crown, A.J.P. says

    There’s Nine Elms, Elstree and Royal Oak in London alone, not to mention Shepherd’s Bush. Outside London there’s Coventry, Daventry, Braintree…

  42. John Emerson says

    Björk might be an unreliable source on normal Icelandic practice.

  43. A.J.P. Crown says

    I didn’t say she is a tree. She’s probably got more money.

  44. The Yew was Efrawg in Brythonic, Efrog in Welsh, Eabhrac in Irish Gaelic, Iorc in Scottish Gaelic
    Some confusion there. Can’t say for Brythonic but the other three are (modern) words for York itself not for the yew.

  45. marie-lucie says

    In that case, these Celtic languages preserve the ancient name trancribed by the Romans as Eboracum (with loss of the middle vowel, something very frequent between consonants), and Iorc may be the Scottish spelling of the modern name, a direct transliteration from English York, rather than a result of Scots phonetic evolution. There is no reason to think that the Scots had a say in naming the city.

  46. Angles–AFAIK, this group was really elusive and didn’t leave much of an archaeological record. No one really knows who they were.
    Northern British Vikings-York, Dublin, Isle of Mann and other islands were all interconnected by trade and at some points in time also shared the same king. When the Hiberno-Norse were thrown out of Ireland, the York Vikings helped them settle in York.
    Sottish-were very influenced by Norse, but more oriented towards the northern islands, especially Orkney. Oddly enough, it was the Orkney Vikings responsible for throwing out Hrolf the Walker, “too violent even for a Viking”, who sacked Paris and became the leader of the Normans whose descendants were to come back west in 1066…
    I’m not too much interested in anything after the Viking age, and that’s where the answer to the Scottish question lies. I do remember something about the English king giving dominion over the northern areas to a Scottish earl or something, so maybe that’s a good place to look for anyone who’s really interested. If the name changes were influenced by another language, it seems the influence would either have to come from the north (Scot) or the south (Norman). If someone wants to do more than guess, there’s a footnote reference to a book in the Wikipedia piece on York.

  47. Crown, A.J.P. says

    ‘Jorvik’, by the way, or Gjøvik, is about 100 km. north of Oslo and is close to where some of the Viking kings (including Harald Hårfagre, who united Norway in 840-ish) are supposed to have come from.
    Vik, or bay, is a common place-name ending and is supposed to be where the word Viking comes from.

  48. John Emerson says

    The Vikings left Scotland very late, by a pawning process:
    Norn is an extinct North Germanic language that was spoken on Shetland and Orkney, off the north coast of mainland Scotland, and in Caithness. After the islands were pawned to Scotland by Norway in the 15th century, it was gradually replaced by Scots.

  49. John Emerson says

    The Vikings left Scotland very late, by a pawning process:
    Norn is an extinct North Germanic language that was spoken on Shetland and Orkney, off the north coast of mainland Scotland, and in Caithness. After the islands were pawned to Scotland by Norway in the 15th century, it was gradually replaced by Scots.

  50. Siganus Sutor says


  51. Eek!

  52. Wick/wich in English placenames is from Old English “wic”, an early borrowing from Latin “vicus”, and nothing to do with Norse “vik”. Its meaning in placenames seems to vary widely from simply “dwelling place” through “village” and “town” to “farm, especially a dairy farm” to (in Cheshire)”buildings by a saltpit”. (I’m nicking all this from Ekwall’s Ox. Dic of English PN, btw.)
    The Old English, who captured the city around 570 or 580 AD changed Celtic Eburacon (probably “place of the yews, vide Youghal in Ireland) to Eoforwic, which the Vikings changed to Iorvik, and which was Ȝorc in 1205. But the city was still being called Euerwik in 1297 … the Welsh for York, incidentally, is Caer Efrog, which name, or something similar, must have been the one used by the small British kingdom of Elmet, based around Leeds to the south, which lasted until soon after 600 AD …
    Julian Richards is wrong, incidentally in putting Twickenham among the London wicks, Nijma: the name most likely means “Twicca’s hamm, or meadow”,or “the hamm in the [river] fork”, that is “betwixt” the Crane and the Thames.

  53. …that “which was orc” was meant to read “which was [yogh]orc” …

  54. David Marjanović says

    Jerusalem means either […] or in Hebrew “Rain of Peace”.

    Urgh. That sounds like a threat. You know, like Tàipíng, “very peace”, which meant 25 million people were killed. Eternal peace outright!

  55. A. J. P. Crown says

    Good that got changed. Would have become jolly confusing with the Yorkshire pudding.

  56. I stuck a capital yogh in your earlier comment; I hope people’s browsers render it OK.

  57. A. J. P. Crown says

    Did you stick it in the right place, though (or has Zythophile been at the beer again)?

  58. So the [yogh] is not a spelling after all. I am relieved. What is it then? I am nor familiar with that … word? symbol? Please enlighten.

  59. Yogh.

  60. marie-lucie says

    Thank you, LH. I would have recognized the character if I had seen it, but I did not know or remember the name of it.

  61. Crown, A.J.P. says

    I, on the other hand, am merely stupid and ignorant (but only compared to the keenest minds in linguistics).

  62. marie-lucie says

    Come on, AJP, you are neither. Everyone goes into different directions. I for one am totally ignorant of architecture or boat-building, so what? But my days of studying the history of English are long past.

  63. We are all ignorant of almost everything. (Cue Newton on playing on the seashore and the great ocean of truth.)

  64. A. J. P. Crown says

    Cue the fox and the hedgehog.

  65. A. J. P. Crown says

    Yeah, but there’s one difference, marie-lucie: you aren’t commenting on an architecture blog. Actually, I haven’t found any architecture blogs that I was interested in, except for one I got through Conrad.

  66. Siganus Sutor says

    Not everybody has to deal with architecture, or octopus fishing or powder-coating aluminium profiles, but everyone has to deal with language(s) — at least one. And it is sometimes amazing to see how sensitive language issues can be for “ordinary” people. (Did I mention anything Dravidian?) If I can say so, language(s) speak(s) to every one of us. Look for instance how puns are fun everywhere. Taking one word for another shouldn’t make anyone laugh if there wasn’t an interest in language matters that seems to be found in every Homo sapiens.

  67. A. J. P. Crown says

    And it is sometimes amazing to see how sensitive language issues can be for “ordinary” people.
    Yeah, I’ll say. I had no idea. What happened before blogs? Did people just let this stuff go round and round in their heads until one day they head-butted somebody for splitting an infinitive…
    I love making puns in Norwegian. Norwegians don’t think they’re funny at all.

  68. There are octopus fishing blogs, I’m sure you know. They say things like, ‘The easiest octopus to find is the one that makes a mistake’.

  69. Siganus Sutor says

    A.J.P., check this:
    It’s in Slovakia. More on this page (if you can read it):
    (By “more” I DO NOT include what can be seen on the left at about mid-height of the page. Actually you ought to close your eyes before reaching half the page, and open them only when you are close to the bottom. And by “bottom” I DO NOT mean…)

  70. Siganus Sutor says

    Don’t Norwegians think that your puns are funny at all, or is it the case for all puns (and all Norwegians)? Have you tried giving them some aquavit before?
    “Once removed from its hole, kill the octopus by biting it between the eyes and put it onto your stringer.”
    Is this a pun?
    I don’t know what the reaction may have been for split infinitives, but I’ve heard things went quite far for a iota.

  71. That’s a weird one. Funny advertising to put with churches! And talking of bottoms, you enter this church right up the ass, or so it seems: the roof form makes the doors look like they’re in the apse rather than in the West front.
    According to google’s translation it says, ‘Church Všechsvätých
    TVRDOŠÍN – wooden Gothic church Všechsvätých stands on a hill to the cemetery in Tvrdošíne. It comes from the middle of the 15th century. Oravská building is the oldest monument. Changes in the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque decorations. Inside are ornamental and figurative paintings from the 17th century. Church won in 1994 and the valuation of Europa Nostra.
    Not sure which one of those words was stavebnou, but it probably didn’t mean ‘stavechurch’ anyway.
    Some very nice buildings!

  72. Siganus Sutor says

    Maybe we should ask the nightingale who sings on language hat in autumn and in summer.

  73. Crown, A.J.P. says

    No it’s just my puns they don’t like. I’m sure they’re right. Don’t let Norwegians near the aquavit, you’ll never get rid of them.
    Yes I saw that. Our dog leaves bits of food on the stringers, not octopus though. But biting it between the eyes? Can’t you just shoot it?

  74. Siganus Sutor says

    Often something worse is done to the octopus: it is turned inside out (what we call the “bonnet”, which is a part of the head). In Rodrigues ourites (octopuses) are usually put on some sort of stringers, to dry.

  75. Crown, A.J.P. says

    If I try that link I get:
    403 Forbidden
    (only much larger).
    It’s more panty stuff.

  76. Maybe we should ask the nightingale
    To si myslíš ty a pár ľudí v Moskve! Múdry si jak Šalamúnove gate.

  77. Octopus fishing blogs–were they trying to be funny? I was able to keep myself from laughing until I got to this part.

    Things You’ll Need:
    * diving gear
    * three pronged spear

    I have heard that in Scandinavia, you can catch eels by threading a string with a worm and throwing the whole thing in a canal. The eel tries to eat the worm and gets its teeth caught in the string. I never heard anything about cooking eels though, or what they taste like (or look like).

  78. In Rodrigues ourites (octopuses) are usually put on some sort of stringers, to dry.
    Maybe like these octipi? It seems like looking for octopus mistakes is a common theme: “It is a known fact that the octopus is a meticulous animal; it often gets rid of its meal leftovers outside its hideaway. The biggest mistake of all! It is precisely these last remnants, cast outside its lair, that often betray the sea animal. Once flushed out of cover, the octopus, coiled up in its spot, is pierced through, finished off and pulled on a rope.” Could “finished off” be a euphemism for “biting between the eyes until dead “?

  79. David Marjanović says


    “of all saints”.

  80. Siganus Sutor says

    To si myslíš ty a pár ľudí v Moskve!
    Does that mean that you are cursing bulbuls as well? At the moment they are driving me crazy. My lychees are growing redder every day and they look more and more appetizing, but these damn birds would just rip one open and eat two or three tiny bits in it before going to the next. Hey, you, didn’t your mother tell you to finish what’s on your plate before looking for more?
    I have a big problem though: while cursing them I don’t know if I should swear in Farsi or in Arabic. Even if bulbul is used in a variety of languages to call (or curse) these feathered hooligans, there is some doubt — at least in my mind — whether the word was originally from Persian or from Arabic. Maybe Language Hat could help (at least with the cursing).

  81. Siganus Sutor says

    Could “finished off” be a euphemism for “biting between the eyes until dead”?
    No, I don’t think so. This must be done in exotic places only. Here we just “fouine” them (a foëne being a long narrow piece of metal, commonly a sharpened piece of 6mm rebar) before turning them inside out as I said.
    Yes, your photos are showing exactly what it is. I don’t know what happened with my octopuses. Maybe they were taken away to make some vindaye, “vindaye ourite” being an absolutely delicious dish (cf. August 12, 2006 02:54 AM).

  82. vindaye ourite? Eewww. I could never eat those tentacle things except to be polite.
    And now I will be visualizing some Neptune-like character with a trident killing some poor cephalopod with his bare teeth–or a shiv.
    I’m glad I didn’t open up those church photos at work though–that might have been awkward.

  83. Crown, A.J.P. says

    I never heard anything about cooking eels though, or what they taste like (or look like).
    If you’re curious about eels you should read Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum, or better still rent the movie.
    When I was about five (50 yrs ago) my mother had a café in the Portobello Road. The stallholder outside — she only came for the Saturday market — was a fish monger known as Mrs Fish. She used to lend me for the day an enamel bowl full of water and live eels to play with, but it wasn’t really as much fun as you might expect. Water-borne creatures make hopeless companions.

  84. To si myslíš ty a pár ľudí v Moskve! Múdry si jak Šalamúnove gate.
    Does that mean that you are cursing bulbuls …didn’t your mother tell you to finish what’s on your plate before looking for more?

    No, it’s not exactly a curse:

    An outrageous statement, especially regarding speakers alleged abilities, is countered with the phrase „Only you and couple of people in Moscow think that!”.

    , and then, “You’re as smart as Solomon’s underpants!”
    Do nightingales migrate (i.e. from Slovakia to Mars)?
    It is just SO irritating the way the birds in our garden take ONE bite out of each plum, cherry, apple, pear. The thought of growing lychees hadn’t occurred to me, but hey, with global warming who knows what’s in store for the garden? I’ve already planted some avocados, they take thirty years to start producing fruit (I’ll be eighty-five).

  85. Siganus Sutor says

    Do nightingales migrate (i.e. from Slovakia to Mars)?
    We do have migrating birds here, some coming as far as Siberia (don’t ask me how they find the tiny piece of rock in the ocean), but I don’t think there is any nightingale among them. Is it a bird migrating other than on board aeroplanes, together with other chicks?

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