11 April 2014

[maps] A Country By Any Other Name … Or What It's Name Really Means

The maps in the series The Atlas of True Names sound fantasy-novel-ly.

Heart's Farm and Place By The Meadow are major cities in the Land of Friends whose capital is The Illustrious One. This fabled land is found as a part of The United States of the Home Ruler, which is one of the main nations in this fantasy-tinged land.

Actually, it's a land not far from here. If you know the root meanings, you might have guessed that I mentioned, in order,  Houston and Dallas, which are the biggest towns in Texas which has Austin as the capital city. By now, one has probably deduced that the cartographers have made an effort to locate the root meanings of the words we casually use for our world's place names and brought those meanings forward into English. Thus, Canada becomes Land of Villages (one interpretation of the First Nations word kanata being village) and Mexico being Navel of the Moon (the modern nation takes its name from the Valley of Mexico (present day Distrito Federál), which took its name from the Mexica, the 'People of the Moon').

How the USA became the United States of the Home Ruler is kind of fuzzy to figure, but we know that the word America was drawn, as many readers will know, from Amerigo, as in the explorer and mapmaker Amerigo Vespucci, courtesy of Waldsemüller. The name Amerigo, as this site notes, is a medieval Italian version of the German Emmerich; it speculates that the forepart of that comes from a word meaning home, and the aft part, a word meaning power, so the reasoning normalized that into home ruler.

But, you may wonder, what of our beloved Oregon? Here you are, from the zoomable version that can be seen at http://twentytwowords.com/united-states-map-with-place-names-replaced-by-original-meanings/:

There's not much, but what's there is amusingly interesting. Portland obviously has no other meaning. our capital city, Salem, is an Anglicized version of the hebrew shalom, meaning peace; Well-born is an obvious rootation of Eu-gene. Mishap Lake for mal heure is a good translation of the southeastern Oregon place name essentially meaning bad luck or misfortune. I don't know what exactly the Realm of the God of the Underworld is supposed to be: Madras was named after the cloth, Redmond was named after its founder, whose name is an Anglicization of an Irish name which is a Celticization of the name Raymond, whose meaning has nothing whatsoever to do with Hades.

Although, it does get intolerably hot in the Oregon desert in the summer months,  it ain't that bad.

The most intriguing rendering is that of Oregon into Beautiful Land. That contradicts every guess as to where the word Oregon came from, and that's something that nobody can say for certain. There are many good guesses that make sense, but the best explanation that I can logic out from it all is that we call this place Oregon because that's what we thought the people who were here before us called it.

Beautiful Land is something I can't figure where they got.

Maybe they vacationed here once. Because it's correct enough …

As mentioned, a zoomable version of the map is located at the article at Twenty-Two Words: http://twentytwowords.com/united-states-map-with-place-names-replaced-by-original-meanings/, and the home page of the Atlas is http://www.kalimedia.com/Atlas_of_True_Names.html.  Read and enjoy, and keep with you this proviso:
Not all translations are definitive.
The reader may be offered a number of possible alternatives,
or the translation may be prefixed by ‘possibly’ or ‘probably’.
Please accept the Atlas of True Names
just as an invitation to the world as a strange, romantic continent.
In other words, explore … and just have fun with it. It's not hard to.  

No comments: