Places We’re From

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I’ve riffed here over the blog-years about my fascination with maps and place names on them that tell so much about their history. I’m also a latin fancier especially as that language relates to plant names.

So finding on “The Atlas of True Names” that the name for New York comes from an original name that means “New Wild Boar Village” helps me puzzle out something I could not explain: why New York Aster is called by the latin name aster novaboracencis.

Looking for a Christmas gift for the word-map-freaks on your list? These maps might just be what you’re looking for…

… the new map traces the etymological roots of European and global place names and then translates them into English. The “City of Boatmen” is also known as Paris. Should you travel to the Land of the Fire Keepers, you’d find yourself in Azerbaijan. And Italy comes from the Latin word vitulus, which means “calf.”

“We wanted to let the Earth tells its own story,” Stephan Hormes, who produced the maps together with his wife Silke Peust, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “The names give you an insight into what the people saw when they first looked at a place, almost with the eyes of children. Through the maps, we wanted to show what they saw.”

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2 thoughts on “Places We’re From”

  1. I saw this map mentioned on the Rachel Maddow show a few days ago. When Spanish explorers asked the natives in what is now Mexico what they called the region. The reply in native tongue was “Yucatan”, meaning something like,”I don’t understand, what do you mean?” So the Spanish started calling that region Yucatan.

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