By C. J. Hughes
Place names come and go — with help from (surprise!) the real estate industry — but a few that have stuck around offer a window onto the city’s past.
by Lindsey Spinks
Manhattan, for all its charms, can sometimes fail the imagination. From the “financial district” to “Midtown” to the “Upper West Side,” the names of neighborhoods can seem just-the-facts dull, seeming to prefer literal and safe over style and mystery.
It wasn’t always this way. Checkering the borough once were names far more novel, like Mackarelville (on the Lower East Side), San Juan Hill (on the Upper West Side) and Jones Wood (on the Upper East Side), names which frequently got wiped off maps with the help of developers.
To determine the most common last name in every country, NetCredit analyzed surname data from genealogy portal Forebears.io, various country censuses and other sources. Etymological information came from the Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, and a number of other sources.
The United States is representative of the mix of surnames found throughout the North American continent. Brown, the most common surname in Jamaica, is the fourth most popular U.S. surname. Rodriguez, the most common surname in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Panama and the Bahamas, is also very common in the U.S. The list of the top 25 surnames in the United States includes the most common surname in two-thirds of North American countries.
The Dictionary has been realized by John Everett-Heath and comprises over 11,000 entries.
This dictionary explores the history, meanings, and origin of place names around the world. It covers continents, countries, regions, islands, bays, capes, cities, towns, deserts, lakes, mountains, and rivers, giving the name in the local language as well as key historical facts associated with many place names.
The fifth edition includes two recent county name changes: that of Swaziland to Eswatini and the final resolution of the long-running dispute about the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which has become Northern Macedonia.
In addition to the entries themselves, the dictionary includes a glossary of foreign word elements which appear in place-names and their meaning, as well as a list of personalities and leaders who have influenced the naming of places around the world.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Australian Hydrographic Office and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection have an agreed process for naming reefs and other undersea geographic features within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The tripartite agreement was made in the 1980s because of the often ambiguous and overlapping roles between state and Commonwealth agencies in the naming of undersea geographic features within the Marine Park.
For example, a reef 210 kilometres east-north-east of Mackay now bears the name Joe Baker Reef in honour of the world-renowed marine scientist and one of our foundational board members. Professor Joe Baker, who passed away in 2018, was a dedicated Queensland scientist passionate about marine conservation.
Lancaster’s Department of History recently completed the project ‘Pathways to understanding 16th century Mesoamerican geographies’, directed by Raquel Liceras-Garrido, together with Katherine Bellamy.
Under the umbrella of the TAP-ESRC project ‘Digging into Early Colonial Mexico’ (DECM), this spin-off project combines interactive texts, images and maps with online interactive learning resources on the history, archaeology and geography of the Mesoamerican Postclassical and Colonial period of Central Mexico, covering the 14th to the mid-16th century.
These resources are divided into three main areas: A History of Mexico, Tracing Toponymy and Depicting Geographies. The dataset will be used for training and research purposes at Lancaster in the MA History, and also in the new MA in Digital Humanities starting this autumn.
The List of Historic Welsh Place Names received the Cynefin Project data from the National Library of Wales just before Christmas 2018, and since then, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has been going through them and cleansing the data in order to upload them to the List. This meant going through over 900,000 records, and pulling out each one that wasn’t actually a name, like ‘field’ or ‘house and garden’. This work is now completed, and the Commission is happy to announce they have an additional 515,902 names to add to the list.
The International Council of Onomastic Sciences has announced the launch of their newly redesigned website.
The new design will allow to find any information more quickly and easily. They are also continuing to update the website with useful information and news regarding onomastics, various events and projects. Besides that, ICOS set up modules for online membership registrations where the ICOS membership fee can be paid.
The ICOS is the international organisation for all scholars who have a special interest in the study of names (place-names, personal names, and proper names of all other kinds). The aim of the Council is the advancement, representation and co-ordination of name research on an international level and in an interdisciplinary context.
The New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa has made 824 Māori place names official. About 300 of them now officially include macrons, such as Taupō, Whakatāne, Whangārei, and Ōpōtiki.
The correct spelling of the names were a collaborative effort between the board and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to officially recognise their traditional tūturu names from their online cultural heritage atlas, Kā Huru Manu. The full list is available on the New Zealand Geographic Board website.
Many Māori place names have important stories behind them, so ensuring the correct spelling will help keep those stories alive. For example, as part of these changes New Zealand’s longest place name, Taumatawhakatangihangakōauauotamateapōkaiwhenuakitānatahu, has had macrons added. The name tells the story of the hill where Tamatea played his flute to his loved one.
This is a People Map of the US, where city names are replaced by their most Wikipedia’ed resident: people born in, lived in, or connected to a place.
Data for this story were collected and processed using the Wikipedia API. The period of collection was from July, 2015–May, 2019, from English Wikipedia. Person/city associations were based on the thousands of “People from X city” pages on Wikipedia. The top person from each city was determined by using median pageviews (with a minimum of 1 year of traffic). We chose to include multiple occurrences for a single person because there is both no way to determine which is more accurate and people can “be from” multiple places.
Here’s a selection of gaelic derived place names – from Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba (AÀA) ~ Gaelic Place-Names of Scotland the national advisory partnership for Gaelic place-names in Scotland.
Reproduced here with thanks to Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
For more on these names consult www.gaelicplacenames.org