Sunday, 2 September 2018

Haiti Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest Haitian cities.

Port-au-Prince - since at least 1680 the islets were known as Les Ilets du Prince 'the islands of the prince', then French colonial commissioner Etienne Polverel named the largest settlement Port-Republican on 23rd September 1793 so, as he told the assemblage "the inhabitants be kept continually in mind of the obligations which the French Revolution imposed on them". Jacques I, Emperor of Haiti, changed the name to its current meaning of 'port of the prince' as soon as he could. This is a much more interesting and accurate explanation than the idea the place was named by Captain Saint-Andre who named the place in 1706 when he landed here in his vessel Le Prince.

Carrefour - simply the French word for 'crossroads'.

Petion-Ville - named after Alexandre Sabes Petion (1770-1818), Haitian general and president and one of the nation's four founding fathers.

Cite Soleil - translates as 'Sun City'.

Port-de-Paix - means 'port of peace'.

Gros-Morne - means 'big mountain'.

Les Cayes - a cay is a small, low-lying, sandy island forming on a coral reef.

Limonade - wonderfully named and meaning 'lemonade', it can boast as being the first place in the Americas ever to celebrate Christmas, doing so in 1492 when none other than Christopher Columbus himself. According to Wikipedia nothing else happened until 1794, when the Haitian revolutionary hero Francois Capois died. This followed by 218 years of more nothing until the completion of of the Universite Roi Henri Christophe in 2012.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

1 comment:

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