Witty witticisms and other rarities.

Quiet please, I'm thinking.

New York was once called New Amsterdam

At some point or another we all must have wondered how things got their names. Even Billy Shakespeare was asking the question centuries ago, in the oft misquoted Romeo and Juliet. Truly a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, Bill, but would we think of it as fondly if ’twere called a Manure Blossom for example? Unlikely.

Travelling to and from different locales in Istanbul I have come across a few doozies; Olive Nose (Zeytinburnu) is one, Houses with Gardens (Bahçelievler) is another, but my own personal favourite is Well with Chains (Zincirlikuyu). When I found out the name of that place recently I was more than a little tempted to wander around looking for a Well with Chains, perhaps holding up a wooden bucket, maybe even with one of those rotating arms at the top like you see in all the old westerns. Alas, the area being as built-up and developed as it is, even if there was a well, the chances of finding such a gem are somewhere between slim and none. Two hopes in other words, Bob Hope and No Hope. Awesome name for a place though, in my humble opinion.

With this in mind I began to think of some of the more interesting places I have been to/lived. Dublin, obviously, sprang to mind. You can take the boy out of the country, as they say, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. Dublin, in Gaelic ‘Baile Atha Cliath or ‘town of the hurdled ford’, is the Anglicization of Dubh Linn, ‘black pool’. Istanbul on the other hand was Constantinople, Byzantium, and now, in English, means ‘to the city’ apparently. I once lived in an area of London’s Docklands called Mudchute but that just resulted in a lot of anal passage jokes.

I still wonder what the guy who named ‘Olive Nose’ was thinking.

Eamon

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