Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Unexpected Geography and History Lessons

Practicing the spelling of US names and addresses with my HR-career student has turned out to be unexpectedly engaging.  

My Portfolio-Tab link to Alphabet and Names now includes most often-used city names, and most often-used street names as well as top first and last English, German, French, Hindu and Muslim names.  Plus somewhere I've noted that if a name ends in -son the person is probably of British descent, while if it ends in -sen their ancestors are probably Scandinavian (example: Anderson vs Andersen).  

Although English names predominate, there are more Americans of German ancestry than English.  (Add the English, Irish and Scottish descendents together though, and the UK is larger.)  My student now has a reasonable grasp of German name spelling, where "i" does not, necessarly, come before"e".

I really should add to the page top Spanish names for anyone who doesn't speak that language.

Did you know that aside from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. popular street names tend to be species of trees?  It's a quick lesson in the trees of the US, with "Dogwood"and "Magnolia" popular in the South, "Oak" and "Maple in the East and "Mesquite" showing up only in the West.

Often, city names are tributes the settlers made to locations in the old country, giving a clue as to where these pioneers came from.

Cities sometimes have the last name of a founder or an  historical personnage, often as a posessive (like Brownsville) , with "-ville" or "-burg" or "-berg" or "-ton" added on.  Fayetteville, NC, is named after the Marquis de Lafayette, a colorful character in our history.  

And then you have the story symboilized by Raleigh, NC, sitting not too far away from the state of Virginia, named for Sir Walter's Queen Elizabeth.  An interesting pair.

Also on the East Coast you find Charlotesville, NC, named after King George III's wife.  Although George, himself, did not end up with one of the very largest cities in the US, he did gain a "Georgetown" in quite a few states. 

As for the Carolinas, they were not named after any queen but were a tribute to King Charles I of England.  Carolus is Latin for Charles.

Of course there are many Native American names which are intriguing spelling challenges for anybody.   

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