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Etymological geography, or, if you prefer, geographical etymology:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,591702,00.html


RJA
 
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Language Log had an interesting post about it (link). For example:
quote:
Some of the etymological glosses given in The Atlas of True Names are misleading in other ways. "New York" is given as "New Wild Boar Village." That's based on the idea that York in England derives from Old English eofor "wild boar" + Latin vicus village. But the Anglo-Saxon name Eoferwic was evidently a folk etymology of sorts, reinterpreting the earlier toponym Eboracum, a Latinization of Celtic Eborakon, said to mean "place of yew trees." So should the "true" name of (New) York relate to boars or yews?
Of course, as pointed out in a later amendment, it isn't really intended as a scholarly work and it is a fun idea.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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It looks like a cool book. Part of me wishes it was accurate, but if it was accurate, it would be a lot less interesting. The etymologies of many place names are unknown.
 
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I suppose the name "Great Land of the Tattooed" is supposedly an ancient name for Great Britain. I'd not have thought it especially accurate nowadays.


Richard English
 
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The Online Etymology Dictionary says that the British were called Prittanoi in Greek, which is said to mean "tattooed people." But this is the thing. Is the English word Britain really derived from Greek Prittanoi, and did Greek Prittanoi really mean "tattooed people"? The Online Etymology Dictionary uses a lot of sources, but we don't know which source this is from to check it. And the phrase said to mean indicates that it is not certain.

The OED suggests that
quote:
the British self-designation is perhaps ultimately < the Celtic base of Welsh pryd countenance, image, beauty, form

But it's one of a few possible etymologies. The OED says nothing about tattoos.
 
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