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Blog : Posts tagged with 'names'

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Names and geography

In which we see where the P family used to live


Like a lot of people, I’ve spent a while today playing with the Surname Profiler website,* looking at how distant relatives are spread around the country, now, and 125 years ago. As I was expecting, in the 19th century my mother’s family was very heavily concentrated in one area:

Surname, 1881

…because we know from her genealogy research that her father’s ancestors have lived in this village and the neighbouring one for as far back as anyone can trace.

I was also expecting to find that today, we would be spread all over the country, what with modern transport making migration much easier.** However, our own family just demonstrates what the research project proved: in the words of the project leader, “migration is traumatic.” We don’t seem to have moved about much at all:

Surname, now

Of course, that’s for a name that isn’t common anywhere – that site suggests that the majority of people with our name live within our local phonebook area, and that phonebook lists about 30 numbers under it. If you have a more common name, individual family movements won’t show up. Another branch of my mother’s family – still with a fairly obscure name – is from Cornwall. In 1881, almost all of them lived west of Bristol:

surname B, 1881

Our branch of that family, at the time, lived in Brixton. Not the one in Devon, though, the one at the end of the Victoria line, in a completely blank part of their family map.

* link via Up Your Ego. The surname profiling website is very overloaded at the moment, so be patient with it.

** “Nor should we forget the benefit in rural human genetics brought by the railway: with less intermarrying the ‘village idiot’ has disappeared” – David St. John Thomas, The Country Railway, 1976.

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Squimtronic!

In which I think of a word


Standing in the shower tonight, I noticed – for the first time, probably – that it’s branded with the word “Aquatronic”. Or, rather, “AQUATRONIC”.

Now, this is a shower that was made in the 1990s, so I’m not really sure why. I mean, adding “…tronic” onto the end of a name to signify New! Scientific! Modern! really is such a 1960s thing to do. Plus, the “aqua” part is fairly self-explanatory, but the word you end up with is completely meaningless if not negative. Aquatronic? Electricity and water? Doesn’t that get you electrocuted?

It set me off wondering what meaningless-but-great-sounding words I can put together along the same lines. Filktronic? Definitely a plausible music genre even if Google hasn’t heard of it.* Plockfultronic? Squimtronic? This site is definitely very squimtronic, even if squimtronic doesn’t quite have a meaning yet.

* Not quite true – it returns one hit, a German-language page about a Momus album.

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What’s In A Name

In which we discuss the name of this site


So far, I haven’t tried to explain the name of this site; and nobody’s asked, probably because very few people read it. I thought it up whilst sitting one afternoon on Doncaster station, waiting for a rather late train, and ever since I’ve been worried that it’s too pretentious.

The meaning came second, but it’s a good meaning,* so that doesn’t matter. The Forest isn’t made of solid wood and trees, but it is there, around us. It’s there all the time, but some days you can see it more than others. Some days you feel that whatever happens to you, however wonderful, you’ll still be feeling awful at the end of the day and you still won’t have achieved anything. That’s because you’re stuck in the Forest, and you haven’t managed to fight your way out of it yet. This site is – at its deepest root – all about doing just that, because it’s written by me, and that’s what I spend an awful lot of my time doing.

That last sentence makes this site sound as if it’s going to be very, very personal, all the time. That’s not true. It’s going to try not to be too pretentious too.

The monster up at the top right does have a name. I’ll get onto that another time, though. I might even make t-shirts.

* if you ask me, at least.

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