Monday, March 12, 2012

...little A, double L, A, S.

I was reading one of Punk Chopstick’s posts recently in which she mentioned having taken a nine-hour train trip to KL. Because I happen to know that Punk moved from the U.S. to Malaysia, I understood that she meant the city of Kuala Lumpur.

But does everyone understand that?

I started thinking -- always a dangerous activity -- and wondered how many other cities are easily identified far and wide by their initials or an abbreviation. Here in the U.S., for example, people fly from NYC to LA, or to SF, or even to NO and SLC (New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Salt Lake City).

People in Minnesota know that MPLS means Minneapolis.

In Missouri, KC and STL mean Kansas City and St. Louis.

All Texans know that Big D is Dallas. My, oh, yes.

Southern Californians recognize the initials OC and Georgians recognize ATL.

But do other people?

What are some examples of abbreviations in your neck of the woods that the locals recognize immediately but that might cause quizzical looks on visitors’ faces?

Here are some place names to ponder while you’re thinking:

...and we mustn’t forget:

(Click to enlarge)

That little town in Wales, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, is the longest officially recognized place name in the United Kingdom and one of the longest in the world, having 58 letters (51 letters in the Welsh alphabet, where ch, ng and ll count as single letters).

According to Wikipedia, the name means [St.] Mary’s Church (Llanfair) [in] the hollow (pwll) of the white hazel (gwyngyll) near (goger) the rapid whirlpool (y chwyrndrobwll) [and] the church of [St.] Tysilio (llantysilio) by the red cave ([a]g ogo goch).

A plucky lot, the Welsh.


Helsie said...

Well firstly using a Queensland road sign makes me feel right at home. Thanks.
Because we see so much American TV I could identify all of those you listed and after racking my brains ( at this late hour ) the only place in Oz that I can think of by initials is ACT ( Australian Capital Territory or Canberra).If anything Aussies tend to shorten names instead - Brissy, Tassie, Rocky or Bundy.

rhymeswithplague said...

Helsie, I had you in mind when I picked it.

I wouldn't know ACT from a hill of beans, but it reminded me that we refer to Washington, D.C., simply as DC.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

In England we tend not to use abbreviations as you seem to do in America. So we always visit Bourton-on-the-Water and never BOTW or Leamington Spa and never LS. Strangely my own hometown is officially called Kingston-upon-Hull but it is always known as just Hull - after the river that runs through it. Isn't there a township in the suburbs of LA called RWP? Riddled-with-Perverts.

rhymeswithplague said...

The Honourable Y. Pudding, Esq.
Pudding Towers
Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorkshire


Shooting Parrots said...

Mr Pudding isn't entirely correct in saying that we don't abbreviate place names in the UK, although not to the same extent as the US.

For example, a lowercase U can stand in for 'under' or 'upon', as in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Newcastle-under-Lyme, which can be confusing.

We also shorten the word 'borough' and its ilk, so Middlesbrough becomes 'Middlesboro' which doesn't abbreviate it very much.

I can't think of any places that use initials, except perhaps Ashton-under-Lyne near where I live which is often written as A-u-L, but that might just be a local habit.

There is O in Devon, but that doesn't count because a) it's a river and b) that's its full name.

Regarding the use of LA and NYC and the like, might this be something to do with the initials used to identify airports?

rhymeswithplague said...

Parrots, I lived in Boca Raton, Florida, for several years, and if I remember correctly our "sister city" was Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Good guess about the airports, but wrong. Los Angeles is LAX, and New York City has three: JFK for John F. Kennedy, LGA for LaGuardia, and EWR for Newark (New Jersey). But DFW for Dallas-Fort Worth makes sense, and so does MIA for Miami.

Shooting Parrots said...

Coincidentally, MIA was also the abbreviation for Manchester International Airport when it advertised itself with the line 'Fly Via MIA', although MAN is its official designation I believe.

Katherine said...

We tend to 'cutesy-fy names in NZ. For example, a rather conservative city, Hamilton, is known tongue-in-cheek in some circles as 'Hamiltron' - the city of the future. (After the movie, 'Tron').
Rotorua is known as 'Rottenrua' because of the sulphur fumes from the mudpools and geysers etc...and some are trying to get Wellington known as 'Wellywood'.

We do have a place that is shortened, however, to Taumata: It's full name is
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu. So there.

rhymeswithplague said...

Katherine, I'm impressed with that long name! I can't pronounce it, but I'm impressed with it!

Katherine said...

Go here for the pronunciation Robert:

Katherine said...