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Celebrating the local language
FROM Spike Island to The Boney, the weird and wonderful nicknames for Southampton’s streets and buildings are being compiled into an “alternative gazetteer” of Britain.
To celebrate English Language Day, Ordnance Survey and Winchester based charity The English Project, are compiling a directory of nicknames for places.
And they want to hear from you.
From Bunnies Hill and Donkey Common in Sholing to The Flowers Estate in Bassett, all will be considered alongside nationally known nicknames such as Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction and The Wobbly Bridge in London.
As well as celebrating the richness of the English Language, organisers hope the project will help 999 operators who can be baffled when callers use names that don’t feature on official maps.
Names already in the database include The Spooky Path, for a dimly lit route through Southampton Common, The Aviary, for part of St Andrew’s Park, and the humorous Beastly Eastleigh and Rotten Totton.
Some of the names such as Below Bar (for the lower end of Southampton High Street) and Foye’s Corner (for the junction between Paynes Road and Shirley Road) are so common, many Sotonians might be surprised to learn they are not officially recognised.
Less well-known ones include the Cat Grounds for the Outer Close, Winchester, and, according to city MP Steve Brine, Olly Bee for Oliver’s Battery.
English Project trustee Evelyn Thurlby said: “English Language Day 2010 provides a particular opportunity for us to explore the special relationship which exists between people and places.
“Look at an Ordnance Survey map and you’ll find the official names for places throughout Great Britain. But that’s not necessarily what we call them in real life. Take, for example The Nam for Tottenham or Where Upon Earth for Wath-upon-Dearne in South Yorkshire.
“We are collecting the nicknames, petnames and hatenames which we use in our daily lives for the places which are near and dear to us – or in some cases, maybe not!”
And, says Evelyn, the focus is not just on the big national nicknames everyone knows about.
The charity is just as interested in less well-known names used by just one neighbourhood, a village community, a workplace or even by an extended family or group of friends.
The directory will include names for whole towns as well as parks, landmarks, pubs and even road junctions and roundabouts.
Among the nicknames for local roads already collected by the project are Dollies Lane for Winchester’s Egbert Road (because of the narrow pavement), and Bunnies Hill for South East Road, Sholing.
Other Hampshire nicknames include The Pub with No Name for the White Horse in Priors Dean near Petersfield and The Pregnant Pin for the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.
Glen Hart, Ordnance Survey’s head of research, said: “With the huge variety of place nicknames that exist we could never hope to capture them all ourselves.
But the information from Location Lingo could prove vital.
“Organisations like the emergency services rely on our information when responding to 999 calls, so by having the most complete set of nicknames we could help the emergency services quickly locate the right place, maybe even save lives.
“Such knowledge will also help improve Internet searches as well as to recognise the importance that such names have to local communities.”
Location Lingo follows the English Project’s successful Kitchen Table Lingo, a best-selling dictionary of homemade words used by families up and down the country, including 57 words for a television remote control.
Launched in Winchester in 2008 the charity aims to celebrate the English Language in all its forms and hopes to open the world’s first English language museum in Winchester city centre in 2012.
■ To take part in Location Lingo, visit locationlingo.net and add names for neighbourhoods, towns, villages, streets, parks or landmarks.
Weird and wonderful names around Southampton
1. Wibbies - River Test marshes
2. The Salmon Leap - Testwood
3. Goatee Beach - Eling
4. Tanner’s Brook - Millbrook
5. The Furlong - The Common
6. The Warren - Shirley
7. Birds Estate - Lords Hill
8. Flower Roads - Bassett
9. Spooky Path - The Common
10. Crossroads on The Common
11. The Cowherds - The Avenue
12. The Triangle - Bitterne Park
13. Stag Gates - Inner Avenue
14. Six Dials - St Marys
15. The Aviary - East Park
16. Below Bar - South of Bargate
17. The Cattle Market - Under Central Bridge
18. Floating Bridge - River Itchen
19. Veracity - Sholing
20. Bunnies Hill - South East Road, Sholing
21. The Valley - Sholing
22. Donkey Common - off Bursledon Road, Thornhill
23. Four Telephones - Corner of High St. and New Rd.
24. The Ruffs - Water Lane, Totton.
25. The Ditches - East St. Car Park
26. Spike Island - Sholing
27. The Boney - St James Church, Shirley