LOCAL NAMES ON THE LANDSCAPE. I have posted often on how localized dialects –“microaccents’–were in Europe until late in the nineteenth century. For example, I posted here about how in France, a “pays” which had its own dialect might be “the area within which its own church bell could be heard more distinctly than those of other villages.” The Economist had an obituary in the May 14 issue of Margaret Gelling, who was a great authority on English place names. The article describes how precisely names captured the particularities of a landscape: “Dozens of words, none of them synonymous, described the look of a hill, the angle of slope and the way trees grew upon it.” Suffixes were important. The suffix for Wivenhoe comes from “hoe”, which means “a ridge that rises to a point and has a concave end.” The obituary give examples of how other suffixes or words or might mean “a long and sinuous valley”, “a woodland pig-pasture” or “a scrubland at the edge of the forest.” The word “waess” is not just a “swamp” but much more precisely: “land by a meandering river which floods and drains quickly”.

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