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Glynn Moore: There's a strange word for you

Posted: March 8, 2014 - 2:08pm

When the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan was observed recently, there was much talk of the Fab Four’s being from Liverpool. That made them Liverpudlians, not Liverpoolers or Liverpoolites.

That’s always puzzled me. If you live in a city named after an edible organ, why make it worse when you describe yourself? I looked it up, and the city’s name means “pool with muddy water,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary (a “lifer” was “thick, clotted water”). The word for a resident was the result of a joking substitution of “puddle” for “pool,” it seems.

Liverpudlians don’t seem to mind. Neither do the residents of the Scottish city of Glasgow, for they are Glaswegians, just as Norwegians live in Norway and Galwegians in Galway, Ireland.

Europe is like that. I guess when you’ve been around as long as those guys, you have to have fun with your hometown.

Great Britain is the best example. People from Cambridge, for instance, are Cantabrigians. The Cornish come from Cornwall. If you’re from Manchester, you seem to be Mancunian. I swear.

Edinburgh’s residents would seem to be Edinburghers, but since the city is pronounced EDD-in-burro, I’m not so sure. I’ve read that they might actually be Edinburgensians. Whew!

People from Birmingham — England, not Alabama — can be Birminghamers, but also — wait for it — Brummies.

Dubliner makes sense for a guy living in Dublin, but Novocastrian and Geordie for the residents of Newcastle? I just don’t know.

My favorite, I believe, is Oxford. Attend that British center of learning and you are suddenly an Oxonian.

It’s not just the United Kingdom that has strange demonyms (names for the residents of an area). The rest of Europe is rolling in strange names, and many of them read like something off the menu.

For instance, the people of Naples, Italy, are Neapolitan. I suspect they have chocolate, vanilla and strawberry heritage.

Hail from other Italian cities and you might wind up being Parmesan, Bolognese or Florentine. Yum!

Likewise, get born in France and you will be Vichyssoise, Nicois or, for all I know, Mayonnaise.

In 1963, President Kennedy made a trip to Germany, where he expressed his solidarity with the people of Berlin by telling them: “Ich bin ein Berliner.” That meant “I am a Berliner,” but some wags claimed that it was actually “I am a jelly doughnut,” because that sweet is called a berliner in some parts of Germany.

Things often get lost in translation, but it could be worse. On that trip, Kennedy could have said he was a Hamburger or a Frankfurter instead.

Reach Glynn Moore at glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

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