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Classic Velocity Blog

Replacing Place Names

Classic Velocity

Regular readers will note that I have mentioned a pet peeve with place names in a number of posts, and again recently in Iron Butter. Since I am again travelling and newly agitated on the topic, I thought it would be a good safety valve to articulate my rules for place naming once I am in charge. So here are the basic tenets and rules in no particular order :

There will be a global registry of names, and a name can only be used once. Any new country, city, street, province, parish, state, or township would have to apply for their proposed name and get a response of yes or no. We could contract this out to the same folks that handle the Internet domain registry. Using this method, no two places on the planet could have the same name. If someone in Turkey asked directions to main street for example, you could tell them to fly to america and go to Plymouth Massachusetts, or wherever was first to register main street.

You can't use pre, and post words to simply modify a place. Particularly the word new. New York is about as close to York, as a Deli is to New Delhi (and where is Old Delhi anyway? or Zealand?).

Compass points and directional pre-words must be factual, reserved for places physically adjacent to each other, and can be used only after the main word is used in solo fashion. So for example, East Hampton must be adjacent to and east of Hampton. Upper Snobbing must be North of, or at a higher elevation than Snobbing. Sandy Beach must have actual beach, and must be adjacent to Sandy, etc, etc, etc.

One street name cannot simply turn into another street name. It must keep its name for the entire length. On a related point, a road which is interrupted cannot keep the same name on the other side of the obstruction.

Highway signs must list compass directions as well as place names. Have you ever seen a sign with something like "Route 16 Redding Left, Route 16 Smogsville Right". Now suppose you want to go east to Vingville, how would you know which way to go on Route 16? GPS units make this much better today, but that is no excuse unless the country gives every citizen and visitor a GPS.

No numbers in street names. If we follow the rules above, some place in Kansas City would have 43296th St. We have plenty of letters and symbols in the world's alphabets, and the Welsh have proven that there are infinite possibilities just using 7 or 8 letters.

While we are on the subject of numbers, this business of starting numbers again because towns change, or because east railroad st becomes west railroad st, will end.

There will not be versions of place names for other languages. We will all need to learn to pronounce Heilongjiang rather than changing it to Foxtrot so that we can say it more easily. I suggest using the names given by the native peoples of the area. They tended to be descriptive, entertaining, and non-repetitive. 

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