Monday, June 27, 2011

Geographical oddities

We learned in our last session, class, that there was once a Farther Pomerania but there was never a Nearer Pomerania. Today we will learn about several other geographical oddities.

The country of Mongolia was formerly known as Outer Mongolia. There is no country called Inner Mongolia, but there is an Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China. The natives call it Öbür mongγol (in Mongolian cyrillic script: Өвөр Монгол) from the Mongolian öbür mongγol, where öbör can mean south, inner, front, bosom, and breast. I am not making this up.

There are both Outer Hebrides islands and Inner Hebrides islands off the coast of Scotland. The word is pronounced HEB-rih-deez, not HE-brides. HE-brides are what New York will soon be having plenty of, as the New York State Legislature legalized gay marriage just this week.

Here are the Outer Hebrides:

and here are the Inner Hebrides:

(Maps copyright by Wikipedia user Barryob, used by permission under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)

I have decided not to show you any New York Hebrides.

In Marietta, Georgia, where I used to live, there is a Roswell Road and also a Lower Roswell Road. People refer to Roswell Road as Upper Roswell Road all the time to distinguish it from Lower Roswell Road, as though the word Lower in Lower Roswell Road did not distinguish it enough, but the words Upper Roswell Road do not appear on any map or street sign. In Cherokee County, Georgia, where I now live, there is a Union Hill Road and a Lower Union Hill Road, but not an Upper Union Hill Road. The people in Cherokee County, however, never refer to Union Hill Road as Upper Union Hill Road. In this respect, the people of Cherokee County have more smarts than the people of Marietta.

Another geographical oddity in Georgia is the naming of roads between towns. In Marietta, for example, there is a road called Canton Highway that goes toward Canton and in Canton there is a road called Marietta Highway that goes toward Marietta. They are two ends of the same road, but they do not meet. Instead, there is a middle stretch of the same road called Holly Springs Parkway that joins the two end sections together. This sort of phenomenon, with the exception of naming the middle section Holly Springs Parkway, happens all over north Georgia. Cumming Highway in Canton is called Canton Highway in Cumming. Dallas Highway in Marietta is called Marietta Highway in Dallas. This is all well and good, and even charming in a mundane, unimaginative way. But even though in Roswell the road to Alpharetta is called Alpharetta Highway, people in Alpharetta call their end of the road Atlanta Highway. Alpharettans just have to be different.

If I may be permitted to insert a personal anecdote, many years ago Mrs. RWP and I attended Mt. Paran, a large church in Atlanta. A few years later, because the church was growing, a second campus was purchased in Marietta and named “Mount Paran North.” Several years later, we began attending a church in Roswell and so did quite a few other people from the Atlanta church when gasoline prices began to climb and travel grew costly. Eventually our little church experienced enough growth to build a new, larger facility. On the dedication day of the new Roswell church, Dr. Paul L. Walker, the longtime senior pastor of Mt. Paran, was the main speaker. I was, as usual, playing the piano. As Dr. Walker arrived on the platform before the service began, he recognized me and was surprised to see so many friends from the old days. I couldn’t resist. “Just think of us as Mt. Paran Farther North,” I quipped. I hadn’t thought of that in years until putting together this post.

In his cartoon strip Li’l Abner, cartoonist Al Capp created a Lower Slobbovia but not an Upper Slobbovia. However, Lower Slobbovia was sometimes called Outer, Inner, Central, Upper, or Lowest Slobbovia. Here is the Slobbovian national anthem:

We are citizens of Slobbovia
(Oh, that this should be happening to us!)
We are giving you back to the Indians
(But they are refusing, of cuss!)

PTUI on you, Slobbovia!
We are hating your icebound coast
Of all the countries in the world

But of all the soul singers in the world who sing about geographical places, we definitely are loving this one (2:48) most.

So ye take the High road, and I’ll take the Low road, and I’ll be in the Outer Hebrides, or possibly Alpharetta, afore ye.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

One of Michael's goals is to visit the Outer Hebrides in order to write a script set there. He's planning to take me with him, of course.

I haven't yet figured out what he has against the Inner Hebrides.

If you want to watch a wonderfully quirky movie from the 1940s set in the Inner Hebrides, I recommend I Know Where I'm Going! starring Wendy Hiller (who was not yet Dame Wendy Hiller at that point in her career.)

Putz said...

my uncle is a geologial oddity and so is my aunt marth and if you go to the herbrides this july please take a coat with you<><><>even in my harris twead i almost froze my eyelids shut

Putz said...

also i don't think it is not he brides, no ui am sure as scholarly as i am it is heberdies

Putz said...

burma shave

Pat - Arkansas said...

Another interesting geography lesson, RWP.

There are times it seems that I live in Lower Slobbovia.

"Arkansas" simply does not trip upon the tongue as soulfully as does "Georgia."

rhymeswithplague said...

Ruth, welcome back to the blog! My goal was to own a Corvette, but I'm no nearer to it that I was way back when. I'm just sayin'...I I remember Wendy Hiller from the film Pygmalion, the George Bernard Shaw work on which My Fair Lady was based.

Putz, I would love to see a photograph of your uncle and your aunt marth.

Pat, I bet if Gomer Pyle were singing instead of Ray Charles (even though Gomer hails from North Carolina), "Arkansas" would sound pretty darned soulful.