Saturday, February 6, 2010

Travel: Fun with Foreign Place Names

TORONTO, ONTARIO - When traveling to Europe, I often would not be especially functional the first day because of jet lag. Often, I would use that day to travel by train to my actual destination, figuring I didn't need all my mental faculties to just ride a train. Such was the case in April 2002 as I took a Die Bahn train through Waldshut, Switzerland. In my less-than-alert state, and noting the valley in the area, I mused that the town must be "walled shut." Of course, that's not even how the town name is pronounced in German. When I later told a Swiss colleague about this joke, he mentioned that he would have never thought of that. Why would he; there was nothing in the etymology of the name or its pronunciation to lead one there--it was pure ignorance.

Having just updated my railfanning notebook index through the end of my European experiences, I decided to go back through the index and have some fun with German-language place names.

The following questions resulted:

Do people make friends easily in Chum, Switzerland?

Are the breakfasts good in Eggh├╝tti, Switzerland?

Do they skip generations in Grandson, Switzerland?

Do people often have bad hair days in Grossheringen, Germany?

Do only less attractive people live in Haag, Switzerland?

Do young lovers go to Kissing, Germany?

Do they ever buy anything in Liesing, Austria?

Do they build new houses in Neuhausen Bad, Switzerland?

Is it a good thing that Payerbach, Austria is not near Taxenbach, Austria?

Do they have good snacks in Pichl, Austria?

Do they overdose in Pill, Austria?

Do people have good manners in Rottenmann, Austria?

Do they have good alcohol in Rum, Austria?

Do people fall in love in Schmitten, Switzerland?

Are they early adopters in Tecknau, Switzerland?

Of course, after massacring all these place names, I would probably be sent to the Rathaus (city hall) for punishment. I've always thought that was a great name for a place where politicians work... nothing more than a house of rats!

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