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3 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Apparently the Republic of Ireland is once more under British rule, 6 Mar. 2007
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This review is from: A Dictionary of British Place-Names (Oxford Paperback Reference) (Paperback)
I picked this up shortly after having been asked by my travelling companion where the name Weston Super Mare came from. I didn't know - hadn't really thought about it before. But I wanted to find out, and this book had the (with hindsight, easy) answer*.

While interesting for dipping into for a sample of some of our wonderfully unusual place names or to see how your town's name came about, the relatively mundane origins of even many of the most eccentric and bizarre sounding names makes this book a little disappointing.

The title is also misleading for two reasons. The first, a minor quibble perhaps, but if I bought an English dictionary I'd reasonably expect to find every word in current useage in the English language. But in this 'dictionary' there is only a selection of place names. That said, it's still a vast and exhaustive selection.

More worrying, however, is the inclusion of the settlement names of a whole other country!

Last time I looked, the Republic of Ireland wasn't part of the British Isles. To get something so basic so fundamentally wrong undermines what is a throughly researched book choc-full of otherwise reliable information. Perhaps the publisher might argue that some of these Irish place names are anglicised or British by origin. Whatever. It's still unacceptable for British books published in the 21st century to be making this 'mistake'. Thinking about it, it's laughable.

How ironic that a book about names should foul up with its own title.

*Weston, for those who care, means farm or village to the west. Super Mare is Latin for 'on sea' - easy when you know.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Jul 2010 17:32:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 30 Jul 2010 10:10:37 BDT
E. L. Wisty says:
Whilst the main title says "British" as opposed to "British and Irish", the subtitle states "...place names throughout the British Isles".

As "Dandini" notes, despite modern Irish nationalists kicking up a fuss, the term "British Isles" does include Ireland and has done so ever since Claudius Ptolemaeus the famed astronomer and geographer first used the term ("hai Brettanikai nesoi") in the 2nd Century. Then, as now, it contained no connotations of being a political unit.

Posted on 12 Jan 2011 08:17:58 GMT
J. G. Roland says:
"The first, a minor quibble perhaps, but if I bought an English dictionary I'd reasonably expect to find every word in current useage in the English language." There are dictionaries and there are dictionaries. For example, to find every word in current usage (are many more that are not current) one would buy the 20 volume OED, but for the casual dictionary user, any of a number of single volume dictionaries would suffice. The book reviewed here makes no claims to be an exhaustive collection of all known placenames, it is merely for the casual user.
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