Sunday, 28 February 2010

A Long Address

My interest in place name brought me to the longest place names this week. There can't be many who are not aware of the longest place name in the UK (assuming you are in the UK of course). Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (58 letters), found on the island of Anglesey, it was created to be the longest in the land and is said to mean: "St Mary's Church in a hollow of white hazel near the swirling whirlpool of the church of St Tysilio with a red cave." Interestingly in Welsh it officially has only 51 letters as 'ch' and 'll' are counted as single letters.

Recently a couple of usurpers to the crown have reared their long-winded heads. The village of Llanfynydd were being cited as the possible location for a wind farm (universally hated and I think they look quite good) unofficially began calling themselves by the alternative protest name of Llanhyfryddawelllehynafolybarcudprindanfygythiadtrienusyrhafnauole which conveys the message in the English transaltion as "a quiet beautiful village; a historic place with rare kite under threat from wretched blades". While a station on the Fairbourne Railway was named Gorsafawddachaidraigodanheddogleddollônpenrhynareurdraethceredigion as a publicity move, which transaltes as "the Mawddach station and its dragon teeth at the Northern Penrhyn Road on the golden beach of Cardigan Bay". Neither attempt has been rejected or in any way as much as acknowledged by the powers that be, hence these record attempts will fall on stony ground - which seems a little unfair as the longest 'official' name came from an equally artificial attempt at creating the longest name in the land.

Until this week I was unaware of the longest place name in the world until I came across this little snippet of information.

Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateahaumaitawhitiurehaeaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu (105 letters), which is the name of a hill, has been listed in the Guinness World Records as the longest place name in the world. It is abbreviated to "Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu" (57 letters) in the New Zealand Geographic Placenames Database. The name is translated into English as "The hill of the flute playing by Tamatea, - who was blown hither from afar, had a circumcised penis, grazed his knees climbing mountains, fell on the earth, and encircled the land - to his beloved." I just hope she appreciated this flautist.

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