Sunday, 2 February 2020

Seychelles 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 Seychelles settlements.

Victoria, the capital city, has only been known as such since 1841 when the British named it after the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. The settlement had been established in 1756 by the French, who called is L'Etablissement or, in English, 'establishment'. And there was I thinking 'Victoria' unimaginative.

Mahe is the largest island in the Seychelles. It is named after a former French governor of Isle de France or 'island of France' or what we would call Mauritius. The man who thankfully gave his name was Bertrand-Francois Mahe de la Bourdonnais, 1699-1753, a naval officer and administrator in the service of the French East India Company.

Au Cap is a district on the island of Mahe and has a French name translating as 'at the cape'. (I'm beginning to think they're not trying.)

Anse Royale is French for 'royal cove' and is the name of another administrative region of Mahe.

Baie Lazare, another district, takes the French for 'bay' and adds it to the French explorer Lazare Picault. He did not name it after himself, of course, he decided it should be named L'Ile d'Abondance 'the isle of abundance' (slightly better).

Beau Vallon, another district, translates as 'beautiful small valley'. Moving swiftly on.....

Bel Air is, rather predictably, 'beautiful air'.

Bel Ombre, sometimes given as Belombre, translates as 'beautiful shadow', and presumably named by someone who disliked colour.

Glacis is the French for 'glaze', which which accurately describes most who have read this far.

English River is probably the most obvious place name I have ever come across, perhaps residents should be forced to buy copies of this book which, if adopting the earlier French name of this district, would be La Riviere Anglaise.

Mont Fleuri is a district name translating as 'mount flowery'.

Plaisance transalates as 'pleasure'.

Outer Islands is not included for its etymological value but because it is one of two groups of islands or districts known as Outer Islands. Confusing - but at least the French are blameless, unless we could have come to some agreement whereby one was called Iles Exterieures (copyright APS 2020).

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

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