Troubador A Place of Sense

Released: 28/03/2018

ISBN: 9781788037563

Format: Paperback

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A Place of Sense

Little-known Meanings of British Place Names


The first book to detail the speculative history and hidden humour behind the definition of British place names.


There are over 150 homographs in common use. Consider: ‘bow’ meaning bow or bow, ‘object’ meaning object or object, ‘moped’ meaning moped or moped; the list goes on (in many documents, a great deal more informatively!) What is commonly overlooked is that this conundrum can be true for words that are place-names, every bit as much as for those that are not.

For instance, even the most erudite students of the English language have not been taught that Felixstowe can be ‘a Suffolk dialect word meaning a cat’s claw’, nor, indeed, that Sixpenny Handley was ‘an erotic diversion offered to soldiers on leave during WW1 in the less genteel parts of our great cities.’

There are many works detailing and comparing the meanings of non-titular homographs; far fewer do so for names. A Place of Sense takes examples which are all genuine places that may be found on an OS map and seeks to redress that balance, at least to a small degree, with a large dose of humour. The author hopes it has the desired effect (not to be confused with effect!)

England is a place full of interesting place names. Like the language itself, places are a wonderful soup of Germanic, Celtic, Scandinavian, and French names with actual English names thrown into the mix. It's ripe for humor.

This delightful book takes many places names and give us alternate meanings. Often these are based on homophones or alternate meanings or pronunciations of the same letters. Short or long -- they are hilarious!

by Janet Perry

This is a clever book. The premise being that a simple analysis of a place name can bring humour and entertainment.
I thought it would be a high brow book about the derivatives of place names from Norse, Norman and Anglo Saxon words for copse, meadow and ford.
However, it was a variation of this with comic overtones.
It is a complete send up. For example ACHA n: Western Scottish dialect for a sneeze.
Going through the A to Z of place names it demonstrates a bright intellect, clever wit and a classic play on words. A little bit of bawdy humour and inference, but never a carry on style of pun and toilet humour.
There is also a mindset and a frame of working that means the same logic is applied throughout.
The best aspect of the book is the familiar towns and village known to you and the amazing definitions that are given that bring a smile to you more often than note. Some are even laugh out loud funny.
It will please more people than not and should not be seen as offensive. Locally funny names are often joked about in terms of their origin. But here the author doesn’t always go with the obvious but takes 10 lines of rich prose to say the same thing with side-splitting fun. Elsewhere an educated mind draws on other knowledge to influence the etymology of words used as place names, to reduce the reader to fits of laughter.
A simple idea brilliantly co-ordinated into a very worthwhile book. Some of these like Crap Towns seem to have a ready audience. However, this is a small book that will have something for everyone and will please most who receive it as a gift or buy it for themselves.

by Richard Latham

This was a really funny book and I loved the angle that the author has taken with it. I am fascinated by place names and their meanings but this one was even better!

I loved the alternatives given and some of it had me genuinely giggling.

It is a very well put together book and a brilliant way to pass a few hours, I read a little bit every day over the course of a week in between my menial tasks!

by Donna Maguire (via NetGalley)

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