Travel TopOfBlogs Past and future wanderings of a travel bug . . .: Excuse me, but WHERE did you say we are?!?!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Excuse me, but WHERE did you say we are?!?!

As I may have mentioned previously I spent the last year living and working in the United Kingdom. While there I noticed there were a number of amusing place names. Some were good for a little giggle and some could be considered to be downright rude to an English speaker. However almost all of these strange names had a history of some sort most of which were not necessarily rude at all. Given Britain's long history the meanings of many word surely have changed since these places were christened with the names they still bear today. This got me to thinking however that North America (including Alberta, Canada where I am from) and the rest of the world has it's fair share of funny place names. North America may not have the long history that Europe does but there are definitely a few doozies. So that being said I thought that I would share some of the more interesting place names I have run across. Maybe you will be inspired to go visit yourself someday.

Some of the UK's notable names include: Pratt's Bottom, which is part of the London Borough of Bromley which likely meant a valley of a family called Pratt, North Piddle in Worcestershire, Piddle is believed to have come from the word pidele an Old English word meaning marsh, and even a place I visited briefly in Scotland named Tongue. Tongue, a small village located on the Kyle of Tongue in the North of Scotland was named by the Vikings from the Old Norse Tunga, which is a geographical for a piece of land shaped like a spit or tongue, the Kyle is pictured to the left. For more examples of some of the more interesting place names in Britain check out the article No Snickering: That Road Sign Means Something Else from the New York Times website. I ran across this article last year and it gave me a good giggle.

As I stated earlier Canada has a variety of funny place names as well, Alberta being no exception. We have Balzac, named for the French author Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850). We also have Hairy Hill, just outside of Edmonton, and a Round Hill, Two Hills, even Three Hills, do you notice a theme here? Then there is Seven Persons, whose actual population is closer to 700 persons. Tomahawk, Red Deer, Cereal, Carrot Creek and Milk River could be considered unusual as well. And of course I cannot forget Vulcan which may make you first think of Star Trek, however the town is believed to have been named by a railway surveyor after the mythological Roman God. Vulcan was the highest point of elevation of the railway in the prairies. I may have to make a visit to one these places this year.

Other Canadian notables (many of which are far worse than the Alberta mentions) include: Conception Bay and Dildo, Newfoundland; Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia; Ball's Falls and Sucker Creek in Ontario; Nonsuch and Flin Flon in Manitoba; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; and even Spuzzum, British Columbia. Spuzzum, is near to the community of Hope, BC. As such, Spuzzum has been referred to being "beyond Hope".

I could go on forever as there are funny names found all over the world but I will end with a few more notables from elsewhere in the world. So here they are. The United States boasts, Oregon, Intercourse, Penn., French Lick, Indiana and Slaughter, Texas to name a few. Australia boasts, Tittybong and Mount Buggery in Victoria, Devil's Marbles in the Northern Territory and even Manly and Bong Bong in New South Wales.

But the one to take the cake is this, Fucking, Austria. Yes, you read that correctly. In German the pronunciation would be "fooking". The village is believed to have been founded in the 6th century by a nobleman called Focko, hence the name means the place of Focko's people. Unfortunately due to the English connotation of the name the community until recently had a bit of a sign stealing problem. Check out the fix they have come up with to prevent the problem here.

Hope you got a bit of a giggle out of this and that maybe you are inspired to find out what is behind your town's name and maybe even to visit one of these!


  1. There is seriously a place in Canada called, "Dildo"? Really (she asks with an evil, evil, grin)? You know how some towns have "mascots"? Like, Turtleford has a giant turtle, Vegreville has a giant pysanka. Does Dildo have a ;)

  2. Seriously . . .there is not a "mascot" as you so kindly put it that I am aware of however, maybe they should consider that--it might be good for tourism. However the name is likely enough.


Real Time Web Analytics