Geography Education
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Czech Republic poised to change name to 'Czechia'

Czech Republic poised to change name to 'Czechia' | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The Czech Republic is expected to change its name to "Czechia" to make it easier for companies and sports teams to use it on products and clothing.
Seth Dixon's insight:

That sound you hear is cartographers and database managers gasping at the joy and shock of need to updata all their data and maps.  Old maps still show Czechoslovakia, maybe on date in the future someone will be excited to find "The Czech Republic" on the map as much as I was fascinated to discover Hindustan on a 19th century globe. I also enjoyed this quote from the Czech foreign minister: “It is not good if a country does not have clearly defined symbols or if it even does not clearly say what its name is."  

 

Tag: Czechia, languagetoponyms, culture.

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Laura Brown's curator insight, April 15, 11:22 AM

Marketing and media are the new gods. Can't imagine the power they have in order to cause a country to change it's name. Not so long ago battles and wars were fought over cultural identity, now it's for sale. 

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xkcd: Orbiter

xkcd: Orbiter | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Seth Dixon's insight:

I've always enjoyed this comic strip...it highlights some of the difficulties in teaching about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. 

 

Tags: Israel, Palestine, political, language, toponymsMiddle East.

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EP Eric Pichon's curator insight, March 18, 4:48 AM

...some of the difficulties in teaching about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. 

 

Tags: Israel, Palestine, political, language, toponyms, Middle East.

Leonardo Wild's curator insight, March 18, 9:10 AM

I've always enjoyed this comic strip...it highlights some of the difficulties in teaching about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. 

 

Tags: Israel, Palestine, political, language, toponyms, Middle East.

Jodi Esaili's curator insight, March 22, 9:39 AM

I've always enjoyed this comic strip...it highlights some of the difficulties in teaching about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. 

 

Tags: Israel, Palestine, political, language, toponyms, Middle East.

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Persian (or Arabian) Gulf Is Caught in the Middle of Regional Rivalries

Persian (or Arabian) Gulf Is Caught in the Middle of Regional Rivalries | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been escalating on many fronts — over wars in Syria and Yemen, the Saudis’ execution of a dissident Shiite cleric and the Iran nuclear deal. The dispute runs so deep that the regional rivals — one a Shiite theocracy, the other a Sunni monarchy — even clash over the name of the body of water that separates them.

Iran insists that it be called the Persian Gulf, and has banned publications that fail to use that name. Yet this riles Arab nations, which have succeeded in pushing various parties to use their preferred term — Arabian Gulf."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Is it the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Gulf?  This mini-controversy is part of a broader fight to exert greater regional power and influence (see also this article on GeoCurrents on the same topic). 

 

Tags: placeregions, language, toponyms.

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Why Are There So Many Different Names for Germany?

"Germany, Deutschland, Allemagne, Tyskland, Vacija, Saksa, Niemcy..."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Not only are their so many names for Germany, they are also from very distinct linguistic and historic origins.  Being at the center of Europe has put Germans is connect with many ethnic groups, part of why there are so names for Germany. 

 

TagsGermanylanguage, toponyms, culturediffusion.

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Mapping the Sexism of Street Names in Major Cities

Mapping the Sexism of Street Names in Major Cities | Geography Education | Scoop.it
In a study of seven world metros, only a little more than a quarter of the streets were named for women.


Tags: gendermapping, urbantoponyms.

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Long Toponyms

Liam Dutton nails pronouncing Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch


Known as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Llanfair PG and Llanfairpwll, the small community of 3,000 on the island of Anglesey has the longest single word toponym (place name) in Europe. The name means "Saint Mary's Church in a hollow of white hazel near the swirling whirlpool of the church of Saint Tysilio with a red cave."

The longest toponym in the world is a New Zealand hill named Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu.


Tags: place, language, toponyms.

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Antonios Vitaliotis's curator insight, September 23, 2015 2:27 PM
After a few drinks...ask your friends to say: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch
John Puchein's curator insight, November 6, 2015 7:40 AM

The city in this is featured in our text books. I know this guy practiced it for a while just to say it on TV! 

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Behind the Dateline: ‘Kathmandu’ Becomes Times Style

Behind the Dateline: ‘Kathmandu’ Becomes Times Style | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"When a terrible earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, our correspondents quickly began to report from the battered capital, Katmandu. By the beginning of this week, we were still reporting on the quake’s aftermath, but under a slightly different dateline: Kathmandu.  Why the switch?

There are many examples of foreign place names with more than one English rendering, especially if the local language uses a different alphabet, requiring the name to be transliterated for English. For Nepal’s capital, the 'Katmandu' spelling has long been widely used in English-language publications, and may still be more familiar to some American readers. But 'Kathmandu,' with an 'h' in the middle, has become more widespread in recent years, reflecting the preferred local usage."


Tags: place, language, toponyms, Nepal.

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One Place, Two Names

One Place, Two Names | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The government of the People’s Republic of China calls the country’s westernmost region Xinjiang, but the people who have lived there for centuries refer to their home as Eastern Turkistan. Many times when two groups do not refer to a place by the same name, it points to a cultural or political conflict, as is the case here.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Multiple names on the map can hint at bigger cultural and political fault lines.  Is it Londonderry or just Derry?  The Sea of Japan or the East Sea?  This article I wrote for the National Geographic Education Blog is on the always simmering tensions in the China's westernmost province.  


TagsCentral Asia, toponyms, culture, political, conflictgovernance, China, East Asia, religionIslam, landscape.

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Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, December 7, 2015 12:51 PM

The region in North-west China where the indigenous people refer to home as Eastern Turkistan is being stripped by the Chinese government. They are banned from practicing their religion of Islam and cannot wear certain clothing that they are accustomed to. This is an example of History repeating itself, similarly to the United States government treating Native Americans and their way of life. Ultimately, it is important that the people of Eastern Turkistan has the right to practice in what they believed in, so that they do not lose their identity, culture and heritage.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 8:38 PM
Going by either the name Xinjiang or Eastern Turkistan, Sometimes when people cannot agree on the name of a single place there is conflict, but apparently not here. it became an economic hub after they extracted natural gas, oil, and coal. Because of its location, a lot of the people in the area are Turkish and are Muslim. The Chinese government does not really like this and they are doing what they can to get rid of the Muslim ways, for example, one thing they have done is denounce the hijab, or ban any religious displays. .
Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 3:45 PM

it seems that this a a recurring theme with china. disputed lands surround this country inside and out, they claim to own all of it as well. but when the people that live their claim to be independent and choose not to associate themselves with you than it creates and interesting dynamic.

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Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape

Robert Macfarlane on rewilding our language of landscape | Geography Education | Scoop.it
For decades the leading nature writer has been collecting unusual words for landscapes and natural phenomena – from aquabob to zawn. It’s a lexicon we need to cherish in an age when a junior dictionary finds room for ‘broadband’ but has no place for ‘bluebell’


Tags: language, culture, English, toponyms, landscape.

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Why We Celebrate Martin Luther King Day

Why We Celebrate Martin Luther King Day | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Seth Dixon's insight:

Last year, Julie and I wrote this article for Maps 101 (which was also created into a podcast) about the historical and geographic significance of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement.  Martin Luther King fought racial segregation, which, if you think about it, is a geographic system of oppression that uses space and place to control populations. Derek Alderman and Jerry Mitchell, excellent educators and researchers, produced lesson plans to help students investigate the politics behind place naming, specifically using the case study of the many streets named after Martin Luther King.  


Questions to Ponder: Why are streets named after Martin Luther King found in certain places and not in others? What forces and decisions likely drive these patterns? What is the historical legacy of Martin Luther King and how is it a part of certain cultural landscapes? 


Tags: seasonal, race, historical, the South, political, toponyms, landscape.

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Kendra King's curator insight, January 22, 2015 7:01 PM

Interesting and different way to view MLK.

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The Geography of Language

"Over the course of human history, thousands of languages have developed from what was once a much smaller number. How did we end up with so many? And how do we keep track of them all? Alex Gendler explains how linguists group languages into language families, demonstrating how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This TED-ED lesson is a quick primer into the geographic context of linguistic change and variability that we find all around the world. 


Tags: language, TED, regions, folk cultures, toponyms, historical, culturediffusion.

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Woodstock School's curator insight, June 4, 2014 6:05 AM

A good teaching tool for explaining the diversity of languages.

Adilson Camacho's curator insight, June 12, 2014 9:38 PM

Geografia Cultural

Chris Plummer's curator insight, January 11, 2015 11:46 PM

Summary- This video explains how so many languages came to be and why. By the early existence of human there was a such smaller variety of languages. Tribes that spoke one language would often split in search of new recourses. Searching tribe would develop in many new different ways than the original tribe. new foods, land, and other elements created a radically different language than the original. 

 

Insight- In unit 3 we study language as a big element of out chapter. One key question in chapter 6 was why are languages distributed the way they are. It is obvious from the video that languages are distributed they way they are is because of the breaking up from people which forced people to develop differently thus creating a different language. As this process continues, there become more and more branches of a language family.  

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How Far Is It To The 'Boondocks'? Try The Philippines

How Far Is It To The 'Boondocks'? Try The Philippines | Geography Education | Scoop.it

Few know "boondocks" is a relic of U.S. military occupation in the Philippines.


Seth Dixon's insight:

I imaged that the term 'the boondocks' was of Asian origin, but I was surprised to learn how this U.S. military lingo was able to become a mainstream term.  The Tagalog word bundok means mountain and given the guerrilla warfare tactics, U.S. soldiers thought of their enemies as hiding 'in the boondocks.' This term spread throughout the military to mean an isolated region, but today the term has morphed from its military-based meaning of mountainous jungles to one that can also describe a sparsely populated rural America.  This is a fascinating article from NPR's Code Switch team that focuses on issues of culture, identity and race. 


Tags: language, toponyms, historical, conflict, culturediffusion.

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Tony Aguilar's curator insight, October 13, 2013 3:06 AM

We have all heard the phrase living in the "Boonies" The boondocks was a word that was taken from a philipino word called Bundok, that meant the guerilla warfare they were experiencing from phillipino insurgents during the Spanish American War with the America. In this war which Teddy Roosevelt helped lead we gained US Puerto Rico and Guam as new Territories from the Treaty of Paris. The war was fought against Emilio Aguinaldo who was a master at guerilla tactics against American soldiers. This was a desperate war involving coloniazation or exerting our power as a country against other countries that ammassed a huge death toll. Now that we know the word boondok, is not an all American word that was popularized in the 1950's but it was actually taken from the Phillipino language during a time of fighting in the Jungle or the Sticks. But boondocks also refers to a people living around mouintainous regions. Just some food for thought.

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How the Canadian Provinces and Territories Got Their Names

How the Canadian Provinces and Territories Got Their Names | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Here's a little more Canadian history on this Canada Day.    

Via AP US History, Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks
Seth Dixon's insight:

I'm a little late for Canada Day, but the information about the origins of the names of all the Provinces and Territories is great information any time of year. 


Tags: Canada, toponyms, historical, trivia.

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Kaylin Burleson's curator insight, July 3, 2013 11:42 AM

Like Seth said - a little late for Canada Day, but we can certainly use in our World Geography  unit on North America.   

 

Sara Kanewske's curator insight, July 12, 2013 10:07 PM

Toponyms

English Gallery's curator insight, July 17, 2013 9:04 AM

Great for a little extra look at toponyms

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Similarities Between Spanish And Arabic

Spanish and Arabic have more in common than you think, and it's not a coincidence.
Seth Dixon's insight:

These two languages are not in the same language family yet there are many similiarities (article with more connections that in the video).   I would like to challenge you educators to not just say to your students "these similarities are neat!"  Make the geographic connections to explain the 'why' behind this cultural pattern and the implications of it. 

 

Questions to Ponder: What past political factors led to this cultural convergence?  How were global regions different in the past?  What are the were the impacts of this convergence, both in the past and lingering results today?   

 

Tagsdiffusion, languagetoponyms, culture, colonialism, regions.

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ismokuhanen's curator insight, March 27, 7:29 AM

These two languages are not in the same language family yet there are many similiarities (article with more connections that in the video).   I would like to challenge you educators to not just say to your students "these similarities are neat!"  Make the geographic connections to explain the 'why' behind this cultural pattern and the implications of it. 

 

Questions to Ponder: What past political factors led to this cultural convergence?  How were global regions different in the past?  What are the were the impacts of this convergence, both in the past and lingering results today?   

 

Tags: diffusion, language, toponyms, culture, colonialism, regions.

Jeremy Hansen's curator insight, March 28, 10:55 AM

These two languages are not in the same language family yet there are many similiarities (article with more connections that in the video).   I would like to challenge you educators to not just say to your students "these similarities are neat!"  Make the geographic connections to explain the 'why' behind this cultural pattern and the implications of it. 

 

Questions to Ponder: What past political factors led to this cultural convergence?  How were global regions different in the past?  What are the were the impacts of this convergence, both in the past and lingering results today?   

 

Tags: diffusion, language, toponyms, culture, colonialism, regions.

MsPerry's curator insight, March 31, 12:56 PM

These two languages are not in the same language family yet there are many similiarities (article with more connections that in the video).   I would like to challenge you educators to not just say to your students "these similarities are neat!"  Make the geographic connections to explain the 'why' behind this cultural pattern and the implications of it. 

 

Questions to Ponder: What past political factors led to this cultural convergence?  How were global regions different in the past?  What are the were the impacts of this convergence, both in the past and lingering results today?   

 

Tags: diffusion, language, toponyms, culture, colonialism, regions.

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Mumbai or Bombay? A British newspaper reverts to a colonial-era name.

Mumbai or Bombay? A British newspaper reverts to a colonial-era name. | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The Independent's concerns over Hindu nationalism led to a change in policy.

 

The city has been officially known as Mumbai since 1995 when it was renamed by the far-right regional party Shiv Sena, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which currently holds national office in India. Shiv Sena advocates the use of the Marathi language, which is dominant in the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital. Marathi speakers have long referred to the city as Mumbai, after the Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, the city's patron deity.

Shiv Sena had argued that the previous name, Bombay, was an unwanted relic of British colonial rule in India. That name is believed to be an Anglicized version of the city's name from when it was occupied by the Portuguese — "Bom Bahia," which means "good bay." Both Bombay and Mumbai are now used interchangeably by locals during casual conversation.

 

Tags: culture, India, South Asiacolonialism, placeregions, language, toponyms.

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QUIZ: Can you match the country to what it used to be called?

QUIZ: Can you match the country to what it used to be called? | Geography Education | Scoop.it
France has not always been called France.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Everybody know that Istanbul was Constantinople, but some countries have also known by other names.  This quiz of 18 countries is fairly easily, but I must object to the website's characterization for a perfect score: "You're basically a professional historian."  The word you were looking for was geographer...and if you now have a song stuck in your head, here is the They Might Be Giants version and the old school Four Lads version of Istanbul (Not Constantinople)--you're welcome. 

 

Tags: trivia, games, place, toponyms.

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Ruth Reynolds's curator insight, February 1, 8:46 PM

I am a citizen of which country?

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The 5, the 101, the 405: Why Southern Californians Love Saying 'the' Before Freeway Numbers

The 5, the 101, the 405: Why Southern Californians Love Saying 'the' Before Freeway Numbers | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"How did Southern Californians come to treat their highway route numbers as if they were proper names?"

Seth Dixon's insight:

I can't say how delighted this native Southern Californian was to read this (and especially to rediscover the classic SNL skit).  Despite living in Rhode Island, I retain this linguistic quirk that I subconsciously learned as a kid growing up in Southern California.  This is a shibboleth of mine, a distinctive pronunciation, word choice, or manner of speaking that reveals something about the speaker (such as place of origin, ethnic background, or group membership).     

Questions to Ponder: What are other shibboleths that you know?  Do you use any? 


Tags: California, languagetransportation, toponyms.

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How Chicago became the country's alley capital

How Chicago became the country's alley capital | Geography Education | Scoop.it
How Chicago became the alley capital of the country and why so much of the rest of the region is conspicuously alley-free.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The alley is a reminder of past visions of how to best lay out a city.  In the 19th century, back when Chicago started booming, the city was laid out in a grid and it quickly became a filthy, stinky, disease-ridden place. "Rear service lanes were essential for collecting trash, delivering coal, and stowing human waste — basically, keeping anything unpleasant away from living quarters."  As we have moved towards curvilinear residential streets and more discrete public utilities, the newer neighborhoods abandoned the alley, but they are still very prominent in old neighborhoods (click here for an interactive map to explore all of Chicago's alleys). 

Also, Chicago's suburbs have lofty names (Mount, Heights, Ridge, etc.)  that don't match this flat topography--read here to find out why.  


Tags: Chicago, urban, placetoponyms, planning, urbanism.

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Mount McKinley officially renamed Denali

Mount McKinley officially renamed Denali | Geography Education | Scoop.it
To hear the White House describe Alaska, the state has become the canary in the climate change coal mine, complete with raging wildfires, accelerating ice melt in the arctic, vanishing glaciers and whole villages forced to relocate away from rising seas.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Most Alaskans already have shed the Mount McKinley name for over a generation, but as this National Geographic article points out, naming conventions matter and are filled with meaning.  Some of you might be wondering how it ever got called Mt. McKinley in the first place, but this action is still causing some political commotion.  Denali is a spectacularly gorgeous place, and there are a few other prominent mountains that some want to change to previous indigenous names although these changes are unlikely because they don't have the same local support and regular usage.     


Tags: place, language, toponyms, indigenous.

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Lindström gets Swedish double-dot umlaut back

Lindström gets Swedish double-dot umlaut back | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"The state transportation authority relies on federal guidelines that outline what it can put on signs, and these rules say signs must use only 'standard English characters, so when we replaced the sign, we didn’t put the umlaut in.'  On Wednesday, the state’s governor put his foot down: The dots were coming back."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The cultural landscape isn't just passively 'there.'  It is purposefully created, defended, protected and resisted by national, regional and local actors.  This example might seem laughable to the national media, but this was a serious matter to those locally that pride themselves on the town's Swedish heritage.  Many want to preserve it's distinctively Swedish characteristics as a part of it's sense of place, but also it's economic strategy to appeal to tourists. 


Tags: place, language, toponyms, culturetourism, English, landscape.

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Julie Cidell's curator insight, April 18, 2015 9:56 AM

Missing umlauts aren't just a problem on the Internet.

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What’s in a Nickname? In the case of Chiraq, a Whole Lot

What’s in a Nickname? In the case of Chiraq, a Whole Lot | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Nicknames are important branding strategies used by civic boosters, and Chicago’s namesakes are frequently employed to market the city and its surrounding region as 'The Jewel of the Midwest' and 'Heart of America.' At the same time, urban monikers can arise from the wider public and they have sometimes been used to draw attention to negative qualities of Chicago life."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Is it Londonderry or just Derry?  Xinjiang or Eastern Turkestan?  The Sea of Japan or the East Sea?  Persian Gulf or Arabian Gulf?  Names and nicknames have political and cultural overtones that can be very important.  As the author of this AAG article on the Chicago's nickname, Chiraq says, "city nicknames are more than a gimmick; they can define geographies of violence, marginalization, and resistance."


Tags: Chicago, urban, place, language, toponyms.

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Norka McAlister's curator insight, March 15, 2015 8:07 PM

Illinois has been stigmatized by many negative nicknames such as "Killinois," "Shot-town," and "Chiraq." Urban crime hs always been a problem in the city of Chicago, and the most remarkable areas are on the south side of Chicago. High unemployment, poor neighborhoods, and lack of parenting/mentoring, and failing school districts all contribute to the number of young people turning to steet crime in order for survival. With so many gangs acitivities on the street, Chiraq is a city of violence and war. Chaos on the street and the killings of many innocent people increasing, government  officials needs to react with strict regulations in order to stop this violence. Poor economic status has played a significant role in the deterioration of the city. Citizen who were once classified as middle have become a part of the poor class. The relocation of housing projects in proximity to wealthier communities has instilled fear of the expansion of gang violence and activity within residents of these communities.

Lauren Quincy's curator insight, March 19, 2015 12:53 PM

Unit 3: Cultural Practices and Processes

 

This article is about how Chicago's many nicknames represent its culture and people's sense of the place. Many people have began to call Chicago by the name of "Chiraaq" and mixture of Iraq and Chicago. This is due to the violences in the city and resemblence to the action in Iraq. The nickname’s power, politically, is the way in which naming functions as a form of shaming and the name has been advertised on shirts, posters and even songs putting it into the category of pop-culture. As suggested in research, place names are not confined to official nomenclature on maps, but also include competing, vernacular systems of naming. Chicago’s many nicknames provide insight into the different ways that people frame and reconfigure the image of the city for the wider world.


This relates to unit 3 because it deals with vernacular regions and popular culture. The different names of Chicago are often not defined with a definite boundary of the city, rather an individuals opinion or idea of the area. They are often very vague with the names such as "Paris on the Prairie" that not only include Chicago but neighboring towns and cities as well. Or the opposite, where the name "Sweet Home" may only be referring to a portion of the city rather than the entire city of Chicago. The names, such as Chiraq, also fall under pop-culture when they become a widely known idea and are adopted by many sources. The advertisement and use of the nickname in songs and merchandise shows the wide range of distribution for the nickname. The use of the word is often changing and will be popular for a short period of time as popular culture is always changing. 

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32 Mispronounced Places

32 Mispronounced Places | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"There’s nothing more irritating to a pedant’s ear and nothing more flabbergasting than realizing you’ve been pronouncing the name of so many places wrong, your entire life! Despite the judgment we exhibit toward people who err in enunciating, we all mispronounce a word from time to time, despite our best efforts. Well, now it’s time we can really stop mispronouncing the following places."

Seth Dixon's insight:

I've only been mispronouncing 8 of them, but many of these toponyms (place names) are chronically mispronounced.  Some of these have curious local of pronouncing the name, while others show that translating one language into another can be quite difficult since many sounds don't naturally flow off the tongue of non-native speakers.    


Tagslanguage, toponyms, culture, tourism.

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Kristen McDaniel's curator insight, February 20, 2015 11:37 AM

So interesting!  I knew Louisville, only because my husband of almost 18 years is from there and taught me very early in our relationship that it was "Luh-vull".  ha!  

Savannah Rains's curator insight, March 24, 2015 3:14 AM

This fun article is telling people about common places that we butcher the names of. Some of the reasons that we say them wrong is because they are in different languages so we shouldn't be pronouncing everything perfectly. But the ones that we say everyday like Colorado, is because we ALL mispronounce it so it becomes the norm. This article really sheds some light on the way that languages can be misinterpreted or changed because of people.

Claire Law's curator insight, April 26, 2015 2:16 AM

I love discovering I've mispronounced a word, particularly place names. Most of these are in the US but the few international examples are interesting (and the mispronounced variations are perplexing, perhaps we're blessed in Australia with journalists who can pronounce tricky foreign toponyms). I'm surprised Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) and Uluru (NT, Australia) don't make the list.

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-stan by your land

Central Asia is full of lands whose names end in -stan. A certain powerful North American country has a related name. How? It's not your standard explanation...
Seth Dixon's insight:

This video (with a similar style to CGP Grey's videos) charts the cultural and geographic impact of one of the most important toponyms, -stan.  It also alludes to the fascinating history behind the name of Pakistan.  


TagsCentral Asia, language, toponyms, historicalPakistan, culturediffusion.

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Chris Costa's curator insight, October 19, 2015 12:15 PM

I found this video to be incredibly interesting. I am moderately fluent in Portuguese, and comparing the language with English has always left me with an incredible fascination with human languages in general. As uniquely complex as each language we speak today has become, it is always interesting to see similarities in pronunciation, grammar, and syntax between two languages we would never associate with each other; the other day, I was reading about the influences of French on the Anglo-saxon language structures we see today in modern English (it is believed that all native English speakers already know up to 15,000 words in French as well, all the result of French influences in the English royal court for hundreds of years). Seeing the word "sta" be manifested in so many different language groups- Germanic, Slavic, and Persian- is mind blowing when one considers how much time has passed since the word was first used. With many Americans today harboring numerous xenophobic and racist views concerning everything they perceive to be "other," it's nice to be reminded that, for all our differences, we are a lot more alike than many of us would like to admit. 

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 14, 2015 11:17 AM

it's interesting that a word that originated in one country half a world away influenced our entire nation, in the form of the name we took, and almost every nation on earth through the influence of language.

Nicholas A. Whitmore's curator insight, December 17, 2015 12:27 PM

A very interesting little video. While I was already aware that the -stan at the end of the Central Asia state names meant country. What I found fascinating is how it derives from the term for field and standing thus being in or of a place. I also found it interesting how it brings up the other historical -stans but it failed to show Kurdistan for some reason because that is closer to becoming a reality than most of the others. The video unfortunately became difficult to follow for me at least after a while doing all the linguistic tracing to English and other indo-european languages to effectively say Canada and terms like homestead are similar if not the same type of thing as -stan. The Pakistan segments was interesting for simply learning what the first half of the nations name was. Lastly it should be observed that culturally and geographically the term 0stan seems to be in the Middle East/Central Asia and reference steppe decent cultures. Hopefully if a followup video is ever made it will clarify on these things a bit more and discuss Kurdistan which it left out.

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The Islands of Rhode Island

The Islands of Rhode Island | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"How many islands are in Rhode Island?"

Seth Dixon's insight:

I recently received this question and immediately thought that this is a great geographic question, but one that geographic tools can be used to find the answer.  I downloaded all the Rhode Island toponymns (place names) listed by the United States Board on Geographic Names and filtered out all the listed Islands (108 is the answer!!).  A spreadsheet of the data didn't help to visualize this data so I created this interactive mapOnly 1 of the locations didn't have coordinates, some are scarcely more than rocks, and this is only according to the the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, but this is the most complete map of islands in the state of Rhode Island that I could produce.  Additionally, here is an article about some sailors who sought to explore every island of the Narragansett Bay.  

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Tony Aguilar's curator insight, December 8, 2013 4:17 AM

It is interesting that RI as a small state has alot of areas to discover with a map and a good drive. There are many islands near jamestown and Newport and also near Westerly that resemble the Jettey rock like formations that  also have lighthouses. There is so much to see and discover for its natural beauty. I am still amazed at the areas yet to discover in Rhode island. There are about thirty islands in Rhode Island Aquidneck is the largest, Conanicut is the second largest and Prudence ranks third

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What's in a Name?

What's in a Name? | Geography Education | Scoop.it

The Pentagon has upset patriots by labeling the body of water between Korea and Japan in an exhibition depicting various battles fought during the 1950-53 Korean War as "Sea of Japan" rather than "East Sea."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Earlier this week I posted on whether a group of islands off the coast of Argentina should be called the Falkland Islands or Las Malvinas.  There is some geopolitical significance to which name you ascribe to particular places.  Does it matter if I call the sea to the east of the Korean Peninsula the "East Sea" and if someone else refers to this same body of water west of Japan the "Sea of Japan?"  For many years the Sea of Japan has been the defacto name internationally and South Korean officials have lobbied (quite successfully) to bolster the legitimacy of the name within the media, publishers and cartographers and other governments.  Last summer, a worker in the South Korean government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested that I share some resources that state South Korea's position(see also this 10 minute video), showing their commitment to this rebranding effort.  Also see this GeoCurrents article on the subject in 2012, after South Korea's failed attempt to get international recognition.


Questions to Ponder: What other places have multiple names?  What are the political overtones to the name distinctions? What are other tricky places on the map where distinct groups would label/draw things differently?  Is the map an 'unbiased' source of information? 


Tags: language, toponyms, South Korea, historical, colonialism, cartography.

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Justin McCullough's curator insight, October 17, 2013 10:16 AM

I agree with Peter Kim and others that are fighting to have the name changed to the East Sea. The term "Sea of Japan" was used in colonial times of South Korea. Now that those times are long gone, it I can understand why South Korea would want to get rid of anything related to that time period. This actually reminds of something that I'm going over in my colonial history class; the Pueblo Revolt (1680). During this time Indians revolted against the Spanish colonizers oppressing them and taking away their traditions, forcibly converting them to Christianity. During their revolt the Indians destroyed many of the Spanish institutions, especially those related to religion. They destroyed churches and even defaced the statues of the saints, and returned to their traditional practices.

This article also reminded of Sri Lanka changing the its colonial name on Government institutions from Ceylon to Sri Lanka. This happened not to long ago. The Island's colonial name (Ceylon) was dropped when they became their own country in 1972. However, the name Ceylon remained on many of the Government institutions (e.g. Bank of Ceylon or Ceylon Fisheries Corporation). However, in 2010 the name was dropped for good.  

James Hobson's curator insight, November 21, 2014 9:55 PM

(East Asia topic 10 [an independent topic])

{And finally a topic outside of China...}

Just as mentioned in a Scoop from a previous topic section, names can be viewed as more than a word which identifies a place. The context of a name can run very deep and be highly contentious. In this case "Sea of Japan" and "East Sea" are contenders for the official name of the body of water between Japan, Korea, and Russia. Sea of Japan is an older term with more of a history, which especially invokes mentioning of the Korean War. East Sea is a post-war term hopes to remove national tension form its name.

   Should officials really 'rename the wheel', or can the original name be accepted just because of its location and historical use? Or perhaps neither of these options, or even a national-level split as is currently the case?

   Personally, I see it as the difference between Aquidneck Island and Rhode Island (the actual island, of course), or even relatable to French fries vs. freedom fries. Physical things don't change just because their names do. In my view, perhaps everybody should just choose whichever they are more familiar with and comfortable using, while taking into consideration and expressing that their reference of a location is not meant to imply any political views.