I have always been fascinated by names and place names are fun too. Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia may sound like some exotic Far Eastern city but in the local language, the name means “Muddy Rivermouth” which essentially is what it was when it was founded.
Paris is sometimes called “the City of Lights” but its name evolved from the Roman name “Lutetia Parisiorum” which was used up to the 6th century. The Parisii were a Gaulish clan that first inhabited the area and “lutetia” is of Celtic-Gaelic derivation and is believed to carry the meaning of “a dirty marsh”. Therefore, Paris actually refers to the “dirty marsh of the Parisii”. I guess a lot of cities started on some muddy river bank or another.
The BBC asked its viewers to submit other unusual place names that they were aware of. And so, we now know we can be stuck in a Hole in Devon, UK; have Piles in Greece; be in an Accident, Maryland, USA; visit a Happy Bottom in Dorset, UK; or perhaps Lost in Scotland; visit Les Arses in Switzerland; get a good night’s rest or not in Little Snoring and its larger neighbour, Great Snoring in Norfolk, UK but should avoid breakfast at Rottenegg, Austria.
I personally have been to the village of Ugley in the UK which has the distinction of having an Ugley Village Hall but I cannot verify rumours of an Ugley Women’s Institute! However, it seems there is a nearby town of Nasty and when a woman from one village married a man from the other, the local newspaper quipped; “Ugley woman marries Nasty man.”
But my personal favorite is Hope, British Columbia. What’s so strange about an uplifting name like “Hope”, you may ask? Well, the name is quite nice, I suppose, and the area around the town quite beautiful. In fact, it has been the place where many movies have been filmed such as Rambo: First Blood and Shoot to Kill.
But what really sticks in my memory from my visit many years ago was this sign by the side of the road that was visible as you drove out of Hope and on towards the Rockies. It said, “You are now beyond Hope”.