ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
It used to be a rite of passage for new members in the Oxford Tolkien Society. At some point, innocently, they would say "SORE-on" or "MINE-as Tirith," and get loudly corrected by everyone present. Okay, so it didn't happen to everyone, but it happened enough to be - in my memory at least - something of an in-joke. I certainly pronounced both words wrong until I was told.

The Hobbit was a book I had read to me, aged 8 (although I illicitly reached the book down from its "out of reach" place on top of the wardrobe and read ahead) so I can blame my original mispronunciation of Smaug on my Mum. (She also said "Fylie and Kylie," which I stubbornly persist with, despite the Kylie Minogue connotations (that didn't exist back then, of course) because I think the alternatives sound even sillier. Or sylie. Or seelie.) The Lord of the Rings names I read to myself at 9, so have only myself to blame.

Not that I feel that guilty, really. Questions about the pronunciation of made-up words. )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Last night, we did the Sporcle quiz on the 50 most common street names in the UK. (It's here, should anyone want to do it now without reading half the answers below.)

I was not at all surprised that High Street was the most common, but was very surprised to see that Main Street was third. I think of Main Street as being an American name, and I don't think I've ever noticed a Main Street in Britain. Perhaps I've just assumed that High Streety roads are called High Street, and haven't noticed that many are actually Main Streets. However, I've suddenly got a sneaking feeling that Main Street might be a more common term in Scotland…

I was interested to see that North Street was 24th, West Street 26th, South Street 42nd and East Street not placed. I wonder why this is. Why is north that much more notable that east?

The quiz counted "Church Road" as different from "Church Lane," so you had to type in all possible combinations. What's the difference between a Street and a Road? A Lane sounds smaller and more rural, so I'm not surprised that Mill Lane appears, but Mill Street and Mill Road don't. Station Road is second on the list, but there is no Station Lane or Station Street. I think a road, to me, suggests something that takes you from A to B, so Station Road would take me to the station, in the same way that London Road would (eventually) take me to London. London Lane would just be silly. But Victoria Road wouldn't take me to see Victoria. I suppose names that commerate bigwigs, royals and battles are as likely to be on roads as on streets. Do new housing estates have streets, or are streets confined to established main roads and town centres?

Muse, muse…
ladyofastolat: (shallow fangirl hat)
Last weekend, I read, and really enjoyed, Once a princess and Twice a prince by Sherwood Smith. Last month, I read and really enjoyed her The trouble with kings, and I really enjoyed her Crown duel when I read it a year or two ago. However, it occurred to me a few days ago that I really shouldn't have even started any of them, since they have several characteristics that I would generally put on my "do not like" list. The fact that I did like the books very much has made me think about certain prejudices and preferences that I have.

Long ramblings about such things as first person viewpoints, female main characters and other novels by authors who've written series that I love )
ladyofastolat: (probably ritual)
I was musing on the place name issue in bed, and have come to half-asleep conclusions that you will probably all now tell me are common knowledge, but they seemed profound at half past six.

I have only just consciously noticed that places where "Celtic" languages have survived into modern times tend to put the generic geographic term first in their place names, whereas in England the norm is the other way round. We have Ben Nevis, but Cleeve Hill. We have Portree, but Stockport. (Look in a British road atlas for places starting with "port" and almost all of them are in Cornwall, Wales or Scotland. Portsmouth doesn't count, I think, since in the case of both Portsmouth and Portchester, the second part of the name is also a generic geographic term: "the mouth of the port", "the camp at the port.") We have Loch Ness and Lochaber, but Bassenthwaite Lake and Windermere. There's Aberystwyth ("aber" meaning mouth of as river) but Exmouth.

This also applies when when the generic geographic term is an archaic word which has become part of the place name - e.g. Whitby, Winchester, Nottingham. What I find interesting, though, is that centuries after English-speaking people have meant "the homestead of the people of Snot" when they say "Nottingham", they still stress it so that the unique part ("of Snot") is the important part, not the "homestead of the people of", which is shared with other towns.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Can anyone think of an English place name (English, as in located in England, not America, Scotland, Wales, Ireland or Alpha Centauri) that consists of a single word with two syllables, in which the stress is on the second syllable, not the first. It came up in conversation (idle attempt to come up with an Isle of Wight version of "First we'll take Manhattan, then we'll take Berlin." It made sense at the time, honest. It grew naturally out of discussion of gleaming hidden lairs, doomsday machines and garlic) and we can't think of any at all. Scottish ones, yes, two word English ones - e.g. St Ives - yes, but that's all. Mind you, as soon as we started thinking, we could hardly think of any English place names at all, let alone ones that fitted the criteria, so that's not saying much.

Names

Sep. 4th, 2008 10:09 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I've been musing about the names that children call adults - or, indeed, the names that adults call other adults. (No, I don't mean the rude ones they call them behind their back.)

Names )

Not much

Mar. 5th, 2008 09:04 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Seeing an establishment called "Alfie's" in Winchester today, right next to the King Alfred statue, I was most disappointed to see that it was not, in fact, a cake shop. Even though it wasn't, I did them amuse myself during tedious moments in my seminar with thoughts on unfortunate business names. I'm always quite amused by "Viking Blinds", which seems to me to be lacking an object. I like seeing the names of Greek gods applied to prosaic things like plumbing. I do think that coastal management organisations really ought to be called "Canute."

Then, on the way home, I saw a news-stand with the headline "Saints and Wolves in thriller battle", or some such. What a lovely image!
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
I used to collect interesting titles (i.e. noble titles, names of offices etc.) that I found in history books, but I've long since lost my list. I do remember deciding that "Lord of the Isles" was a wonderful title to have, back when I was about 10. On holiday in Skye last year, visiting the traditional home of the Lords of the Isles, I was delighted to read about their interactions with the King of Man. I also remember that the Ottomans have some pretty great titles. "Margrave of the Horizons" was one I particularly liked.

Today, though, I heard a quote from the "Shadow Immigration Secretary", and I think this is the best of all. I just love the idea of him standing there at the ports, making sure we don't end up with more shadows in Britain than we ought to have. "One man, one shadow!" is the rallying cry. Let too many in, and all our decent British shadows will be out of work, floating in limbo without a body to attach themselves to. And what about those poor people back in Poland, etc., whose shadows have all flooded here? They have rights, too.

Which leads me onto Baldur's Gate, by something that really is a sequitur, honest. ("Shadows! Aren't they those things in BG that say...? No. That's doppelgangers. Er... I think...") I was trying the other day to remember all the BG baddy catch-phrases, and find that I've forgotten most of them. I know a few people on my Friends list have played it as obsessively as I have in the past, so any help...?

I remember "I kicked him in the head until he was dead - ha ha!" (bandits.) Someone (hobgoblins?) say "Forward march!" Depressed miners say "Get me out of this hell-hole!", which is very quotable and often apt. I used to swear blind that doppelgangers said "Time to f-lay some flesssh!" and "Your time has come, primates", and "This time is our time!" but I seem to remember that most of these were proved wrong on a replay.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
While I was waiting Far. Too. Long at Southampton station yesterday, I saw a train called "Sir John Franklin," which amused me considerably. It set me to thinking up some other equally inappropriate names. Not that I've come up with many.

An airline called Icarus?

A laundry called King John (since he lost his crown jewels in the Wash)?

A ferry called The Flying Dutchman?

Book your short breaks with Odysseus Travel!

Anyway... No, this isn't a book review, but it was something that I read, so I think it falls within the remit of this LJ.

Hmm... I wonder how many words the average literate person reads every day without intending to. Road signs, adverts on billboards etc. When I'm on escalators on the London underground I read every single advert I pass. I don't mean to, and it's not conscious, but I do it anyway. I wonder if I read more words accidentally than I read deliberately.

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