Place names and their origins.

Adam   Wednesday, May 07, 2003, 11:21 GMT
Just thought i would give a bit of information on place names in America and some of their origins.

The first colonists to America were spared the immediate task of giving names to the land since much of the eastern seaboard was already named. But as they spread out and formed new settlements they had to arrive at some system for labelling unfamiliar landmarks and new communities. The most convenient device was to transfer names from England. Thus the older states in the US abound in names that have counterparts in England: Boston, Dedham, Braintree, Greenwich, Ipswich, Sudbury and scores of others. An equally simple way was to honour members of the royal family, as with Charlestown, Jamestown, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina. Many of the names were pronounced quite differently in the seventeenth century. Charlestown, Massachusetts was "Charlton." Jamestown was "Jimston" or even "Jimson"- a pronounciation preserves in "jimson weed", a poisonous plant that is found growing there.

The colonists also borrowed names from the Indians. The native Indian languages of the eastern seaboard were forbiddingly complex and nowhere more so than with their names, yet the colonists showed an extraordinary willingness to use Indian names. The eastern states are scattered with places given Indian names: Wappaquasset, Connecticut; Pongowayhaymock, Maine; Nissequogue, New York, etc.

Connecticut is an Indian name that has been Anglicised. Its original name was "Quonectacut", then it was changed to "Quonaughticut", then "Qunnihticut", then to "Conecticot" before arriving at its modern name.

Kentucky, from the Iroquoian "kenta-ke", used to be "Kaintuck", "Caintuck", "Kentuck", and "Kentucke".

Probably the liveliest diversity of spellings belongs to Chicago, which in its early days was rendered as "Schuerkaigo", "Psceschaggo", "Shikaggo", "Tsckakko", "Ztschaggo", "Shecago", "Shakakko" and "Stkachango".
Simon   Wednesday, May 07, 2003, 11:32 GMT
New York from York in England. I believe it's named after the Duke of York more than place. But it has nothing to do with Nissequogue. Otherwise, I find what you have to say very interesting.

Interestingly, two of the most English place/geographical feature names you can think of: London and The Thames are Celtic (Brittonic) in origin not Germanic.
Simon   Wednesday, May 07, 2003, 11:37 GMT
On the pronunciation front, I notice the same kind of thing in Norfolk (England):

Costessey = [cozzee]
Wymondham = [windum]

And lots of others I've forgotten because I don't live there anymore.
Redacted   Wednesday, May 07, 2003, 15:49 GMT
There are many place names throughout Britain that are Brittonic in origin due to the entire Island at one time being Brittonic before the Scottish Gadhlig and English Germanic settlements: The following are Brittonic (Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Brittonic, Pictish, Gaulish) in origin:

London, Devon, Avon, Glasgow (originally a Strathclyde Briton stronghold), Edinburgh (originally DinEidyn: Homeland of the Brittonic Celts: Mannau Gutodin. The Edin in Cumbric Brittonic and the Burgh is a later Viking influence), Wallace, Aberdeen, Dundee, Aberystwyth, Usk, Kent, Lhanbryde, Penrith (Cumbria), Pen-y-Ghent (Yorkshire), Llanymynech (Shropshire) etc.

Continental Celtic placenames include: Paris, Rivers: Rhine, Rhone, Seine, Danube. We know that Celts roamed temprete Europe due to the fact that place and river names are Celtic in origin.

Before the Roman Empire, the whole of Spain, Portugal (Celtic-Iberian), France (Gaulish-Brittonic), Switzerland, Southern Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Southern Poland, parts of Iceland, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Northern Greece, Northern Italy, Lithuania, Luxemborgh, Liechtenstein, Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovinia, Netherlands and Turkey (Galatia) were considered CELTIC.

The more northern countries of Denmark, Northern Germany, Northern Poland, the Baltic States, Norway, Sweden, Finland and most of Iceland were never Celtic lands, but Germanic and Norse which lay outside the Roman Empire.

What the Roman Empire managed to do was kill-off continental Celticity: Gaulish and Celtic-Iberian. Displacing the Celtic languages with the Latin: French, Portuguese, Spanish, Galician etc.

The Germanic Anglo-Saxons (from Denmark, Northern Germany and Western Netherlands) displaced Brittonic-Celtic in England with the Germanic language of Old English, which originates from Central Denmark.

The surviving Celtic languages are: Welsh of Wales, Western Shropshire and Merseyside. Cornish or Cornwall. Cumbric dialect of Cumbria and Westmoreland. Breton of Brittany. Scottish Gadhlig of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Irish Gaelic of Western Ireland. Manx Gaelg of the Isle of Man.

The non-surviving Celtic languages are: Brittonic of England and Southern Scotland. Galuish-Brittonic of France and Southeastern England. Pictish of Northeastern Scotland. Celtic-Iberian of Spain and Portugal and other European continental Celtic-speech...
Adam   Wednesday, May 07, 2003, 15:54 GMT
Pen-y-Ghent and Llanymynech are in Wales.

They are pronounced "penny gent" and "clannymineth".
Redacted   Friday, May 09, 2003, 15:01 GMT
Pen-y-Ghent is a mountain in the Yorkshire Dales, before the Angles and Dames arrived Yorkshire was wholly Brittonic speaking. Llanymynech is in Western Shropshire, on the English side of the Wales-England borderlands.