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English Place Names [Paperback]

Kenneth Cameron
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 April 1996
Since this work on English place-names was first published in 1961, a great deal of research has been undertaken, and material has been published which is of importance to the interpretation of individual names and the understanding of the significance of groups of place-names. This revised and updated edition explains the technique of place-name study, examines the types of place-name formation, both ancient and modern, and includes a new chapter on modern place-names. It covers names of Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian and French origin, those with Christian and pagan signifance, those illustrating social and legal customs, and other associations.

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English Place Names + A Dictionary of British Place-Names
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Batsford Ltd; 6th Revised edition edition (5 April 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713473789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713473780
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 533,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just how much information can one absorb ? 2 Nov 2009
I was looking forward to seeing where all those funny little place names came from. Half of those I was really interested in were not actually listed and for others you had to flip from part name to part name and then try to stitch the information together. Not for the feint hearted.
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1.0 out of 5 stars My fault for chosing the wrong book 23 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS BOOK AT ALL but ENTIRELY MY FAULT FOR CHOSING IT. It is not a simple dictionary which is what I wanted. I will keep it for a long plane journey and learn more about the subject.
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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just for English people 8 Jun 2002
By absent_minded_prof - Published on Amazon.com
Kenneth Cameron has created a very interesting work here. He goes into great detail about what is known, or what is theorized, about the original meanings of the names of places. The author has done a lot of research into the little known field of "onomastics," or place names. The title is kind of a misnomer -- a fair number of the place names discussed here are not technically "English," but Celtic. A few may even date to pre-Celtic times, although it's impossible to be completely sure about things that became set in tradition so long before the advent of writing in the region. Other place names come from the viking period and language of the Danelaw (known as Old Norse); from the French incursion after the Norman Conquest; or even Breton and Flemish, from when the uber-jerk Henry II employed Flemish and Breton knights and mercenaries to kill problematic upstarts for him. Cameron has included short chapters on each of these sources of place names. He has several chapters about the meanings of geographic locales,and fills the book out with surprisingly interesting discussion of the grammar behind these place names.
My only real problem with this book is that there are hardly any maps. There should be more of them.
Speaking as an American, and one who has never been to the U.K., you may well wonder "What in the name of all that's holy was Ed doing, in reading this book?!" Fair enough. I sought it out because many of the towns in pleasant, albeit meteorologically schizophrenic Massachusetts, where I live, were named after English towns. As you go farther west in America, more and more towns were named after settlers last names, or Spanish cities of terms, instead of English towns. Still, if you live in the East, you'll find a lot of familiar names here. One of my favorite examples would be the following... Framingham is a town in the metrowest suburbs of Boston, in Massachusetts. It's English onomastic progenitor was named Framingham, meaning (in the Dark Ages) "homestead or hamlet (ham) of the descendents or dependents (ing, from Old English ingas) of Fram. "Fram," most likely, was some kind of particularly humongous Dark Age barbarian warlord, from the 6th or 7th century AD or so, who scared everyone into letting him call himself their "protector." That's one name. There are many more...
Be aware of the helpful little table in back, which helps clear up the meanings of especially common parts of words. -Burg, -ton, -ford, -by, -cester, -wich... all these are explained, and more.
There's a nice little bibliography in back, which you should definitely look at. If you enjoy the topic, seek out the publications of the "English Place Names Society," or any articles or books by Margaret Gelling. Also -- if you have an interest in the meaning of words handed down from the olden days, you should think about reading about the names of stars. They're really intriguing, too. I recommend "Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning," by Richard Hinckley Allen, or "Short Guide to Modern Star Names and Their Derivations" by Paul Kunitzsch (watch that spelling) and Tim Smart.
This book would have benefitted from some maps, but I basically enjoyed it a lot. Two thumbs up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You'll find yourself humming "The Slow Train" while reading this 21 April 2011
By Caleb Hanson - Published on Amazon.com
A study of the toponymy of towns, rivers, hills, valleys, fields, and all sorts of other places in England. The first two chapters are at a meta level, on techniques and general principles, and the other 18 are each devoted to categories of place-names, grouped either historically, structurally, or by kind of place named. Backmatter includes a table of common elements, a bibliography that just loves Eilert Ekwall, and separate indices for place-, street-, and field-names (but none for people, subjects, or themes mentioned).

It's a little hard to tell what audience the book is intended for: the content is aimed more for the general reader than the advanced scholar--the analysis isn't especially deep and the coverage is not completely comprehensive--but the level of detail and the number of examples seriously get in the way of easy reading. Best audience I guess would be an interested amateur, who knows a fair bit of English geography and will recognize a lot of the names, and so will find those lists of examples more interesting--fortunately, that nearly describes me. A more varied format might have helped, instead of continuous blocky paragraphs.

Interesting subject, difficult reading; I might go back to it for reference, but I couldn't see myself ever sitting down to re-read.
3.0 out of 5 stars English Place Names 14 Oct 2012
By Ian MacReach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
English Place Names is a pedantic foray into the etymology of the names of English villages, towns and other sites of interest. I was hoping for a gazeteer type format, listing definitions. Clearly, Oxford is a place where oxen and other cattle crossed a stream (Bosporus, in Turkey, has the same meaning). But other names, common to our ears, are not so apparent. What does the "strat" in Stratford mean? One has to scan a lot to find out that it is a ford where an old road, possibly Roman, crosses. Three pages are given, which one must scan to learn this, and no bold-face type is used.

With a very complete index of place names, learning place name meanings is not impossible, but since I am merely curious, and not a researcher seeking more rigorous sources, I would have been happy with a simple dictionary format. but the book does provide answers, and for that my needs are satisfied. But I feel that researchers would be very happy with the thoroughness of the author.

It would have helped if I had been able to scan the pages before deciding to buy.
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