• Hands off Brown Willy

[reprinted from The Telegraph, 5 November 2012]

The people of Cornwall, or some of them, want to change the name of Brown Willy on Bodmin Moor, at 1,378ft, the highest point in the Duchy.  The motive is to stop people sniggering.  It is pointed out that in Cornish the name is Bronn Wennili, “hill of swallows”, which has pleasant associations.  But can place names simply be changed?  This is not the Soviet Union.  Places are what people call them.  If we are the first generation of adults who, like the comic book character Finbarr Saunders, see double entendres everywhere, what is to become of Great Cockup and Little Cockup in Cumbria; Crapstone, Devon; Penistone, South Yorkshire; Brokenwind, Aberdeenshire; Shitterton, Dorset; North Piddle, Worcestershire; Nether Peover, Cheshire; Slack Bottom, West Yorkshire; Pratts Bottom, Kent; and Titty Hill in West Sussex?

…….

[cornishadrian] … and, while we’re about it, let’s revert Bodmin Moor to the original ‘Foweymoor’ (= Fo’ymoor) and name it after its river like ‘Exmoor’ and ‘Dartmoor’.  For one thing, ‘Bodmin Moor’ was an Ordnance Survey invention of 1813.  For another, linguistically ‘Foweymoor’ flows, while ‘Bodmin Moor’ is lumpy.

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