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Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways

Desert Dancer 03 Sep 11 - 02:29 PM
Bettynh 03 Sep 11 - 02:53 PM
ripov 03 Sep 11 - 04:16 PM
Paul Burke 04 Sep 11 - 03:55 AM
Howard Jones 04 Sep 11 - 07:12 AM
Newport Boy 04 Sep 11 - 08:08 AM
Newport Boy 04 Sep 11 - 09:04 AM
Bettynh 04 Sep 11 - 10:52 AM
Geoff the Duck 04 Sep 11 - 03:22 PM
EBarnacle 05 Sep 11 - 11:31 AM
Steve Parkes 05 Sep 11 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,PeterC 05 Sep 11 - 02:21 PM
terrier 05 Sep 11 - 02:53 PM
Darowyn 06 Sep 11 - 04:17 AM
Geoff the Duck 06 Sep 11 - 06:53 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 06 Sep 11 - 07:20 AM
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Subject: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 02:29 PM

Here are fun maps of generic names for waterways...

- for the U.S.: Derek Watkins: "Inundated with placenames"

river
creek
   (these first two, being the most common, are in the background with gray lines)
branch
run
fork
brook
kill
stream
bayou
swamp
slough
wash
cañada
arroyo
río

- for Britain: SpatialAnalysis.co.uk: Naming Rivers and Places

burn
brook
afon
water
river
canal

There are various interesting notes in the posts and the comments for each of these.

One of the questions arising: why is "brook" so pervasive in New England, when it's relatively sparsely used in old England?

The Online Etymology Dictionary says

"small stream," O.E. broc "flowing stream, torrest," of obscure origin, probably from P.Gmc. *broka- which yielded words in Ger. (Bruch) and Du. (broek) that have a sense of "marsh." In Sussex and Kent, it means "water-meadow," and in plural, "low, marshy ground."

In New England a brook is a decidedly flowing item. (Especially lately: Whetstone Brook, Brattleboro, Vermont, after hurricane Irene.)

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Bettynh
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 02:53 PM

Yup, we only have brooks in New England. I first realized this when a TV show supposedly set in Boston, placed a murder in a "creekbed." It instantly placed the author out of New England and firmly from the far west. We'd say "in the bed of Such-and-such Brook." We have canals, of course, but they're all man-made.

The line between brooks and kills is traceable to the Dutch in New York. Cross the Hudson going east to west, and the placenames and architecture of old houses makes it obvious.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: ripov
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 04:16 PM

The "British" list is a bit thin. We have creeks as well (tributaries to a tidal river that are tidal themselves) and sloughs, washes, tarns, becks, flashes and brooks, and I'm sure many others. Canals as Bettynh says are man-made waterways,(or man-modified rivers, often called 'navigations') and branches branch off canals. 'Waters' in the more southern parts tend to be lakes rather than rivers, and 'afon' exists almost entirely in the old gaelic speaking regions where it is also spelled something like 'abhoin'.
You have to remember that Britain (although over a longer timespan) has been home to people of many origins just like the US. Even the bit called England has very distinct regions. Listen to the traditional music. In the North, 3/2 Hornpipes, in the South, unless you go back pre 1600, nothing but Euro-trash (to save arguments I admit to exaggerating slightly)!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Paul Burke
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 03:55 AM

I think if you research it, you'll find quite a few more English waterways names, mostly of limited local application. Rhyne (pronouncd "reen" and spelt variously) is found in the West Country, as is pill. Bach/ batch is found in Cheshire. Afon (just means river) is found in Wales and in areas where the British language (from which Welsh developed) lasted long enough to flavour local placenames, but as the name for the river only where Welsh died out.

It's also interesting how durable river names are. Many of them are still much the same as in Roman times, and no doubt before. So the Severn was Sabrina, the Thames Thamesis, the Trent Trisantona, the Dee Deva (v pronounced as w), the Exe Isca. The Dove is good British for 'dark'. The Derwent ("Oaks") flowed past the Roman fort of Derventio, and the Noe past Navio.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 07:12 AM

"Brooks" tend to be so small that the names often don't make it onto a map. The stream near my village is known locally as "Cally Brook" but you won't find that on any map. It's likely to be under-represented in the study which is based on Ordnance Survey mapping data.

"Water of [somewhere]" is a typically Scottish construction, and widespread. I can't think off-hand of any south of the border, where as Ripov says it's more likely to be used for standing water rather than a river.

"Gill/ghyll" is common in the Lake District. "Bourne" is a southern variant of the northern "burn", although I think it's probably more often found as an element in the river's name (eg River Ingrebourne, which I grew up near) rather than a generic term.

As with other aspects of place-names, as the map of settlement names also show, these reflect how the British Isles were populated by different groups over the centuries.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Newport Boy
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 08:08 AM

I think you're right, Howard, that 'brook' is probably under-represented on OS maps, but I can think of half a dozen in Gwent which do appear on the OS map.

Sor Brook, Pant-yr-eos Brook, Berthyn Brook are all just west of Newport.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Newport Boy
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 09:04 AM

A thought - I fired up my OS Gazetteer and found 840 Brooks as water features, 26 Pills and 15 Rhynes (with one duplicate - Blind Pill Rhyne in Somerset). Only 2 Reens, both in the Newport area.

Also, 99 Creeks (including New England Creek in Essex). There's New England Bay in Dumfries & Galloway.

Isn't trivia marvellous!

Phil


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Bettynh
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 10:52 AM

LOL, Phil, I missed the fact that you're English, and went looking for a creek in Essex, Mass. I found one! I forgot that waterways through tidal marshes are called creeks, though they're rarely named. Wikipedia confirms this.. Walker Creek in Essex is one of those.

Meanwhile, i missed Otter Creek in Vermont. It would seem totally misnamed, since it's one of the largest rivers in Vermont (Vermont is bordered by two very large rivers, the Hudson and the Connecticut, but internal rivers are pretty small). Otter Creek was apparently also called Otter Kill in the past, and it was important in shipping troops during the various wars in the 18th century. Perhaps it was named by seamen who thought it looked like a tidal creek where it entered Lake Champlain.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 03:22 PM

UK.
Howard - Bourne as in the Ingrebourne in Essex describes a particular type of river. For most of the year they are shallow with a low water flow, but at times of heavy regional rainfall suddenly shift a very large amount of water. As a result, they are often a very narrow, but deep cut channel.
In 1979 I was working with the fisheries department of the then Thames Water Authority and we were doing a fish population survey of the Ingrebourne and the river Beam, which turned into the Rom before joining the Thames through the Ford car factory at Dagenham.
Quite often, on the river you were in knee high water between river banks that were above head height.
Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: EBarnacle
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 11:31 AM

In the same tone, many bodies of water that the rest of the world would call lakes are called ponds in Maine.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 02:08 PM

Just for interest's sake, here in the west side of the Isle of Wight we have the River Yar, which enters the Solent at Yarmouth. (Curiously, "Yarmouth" derives from "Eremue", "muddy estuary".) Over the east end of the Wight they have another River Yar, which joins the Solent at Bembridge.

There's another English county with two separate rivers with the same name, but I've forgotten which one -- sorry!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 02:21 PM


and the river Beam, which turned into the Rom

The Beam / Rom actually starts as the Bourne Brook.

The Ingrebourne is known locally as the River Ingrebourne and the "bourne" element doesn't have the meaning described by Geoff in Essex as Howard will well know as he was brought up there, about 8 miles away from me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: terrier
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 02:53 PM

::snip from BBC wales site:
An element usually comes before the name of the river in place names, as in Castell-nedd (Neath) and Llanelwy (St Asaph). We connect names including nant (stream), blaen (source of a stream), glan (bank), rhyd (ford), ffynnon (well) with rivers, but the most common element in this context is aber.

Aber (estuary) means either a place where a river flows to the sea, or where a smaller river flows into a larger river. The river Daron flows to the sea at Aberdaron, for example, and Aberhonddu (Brecon) describes the place where the river Honddu joins the river Usk.:: snip

Common useage all over Wales is Glan yr Afon. Also in Cheshire, wide area of flowing river or canal is FLASH. Cheshire seem to make use of word mutations e.g. Oller Bank Benk, Benk also used for raised area, not necces. river bank (Clinkerbenk). Must root out tome "Origins of Anglo Saxon placenames".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Darowyn
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 04:17 AM

"Ouse" is a river name that comes up in many parts of the UK, possibly indicating a slow-running stream.
"Gypseyraces" are, as far as I know, limited to the Yorkshire Wolds. The word is used to describe an unreliable stream, that flows intermittently. Bridlington has 'The Gypseyrace', which is both the name of a rusty old dredger in the Harbour and the stream that flows into the harbour.
The Gypseyrace formed the boundary at the bottom of our garden when we lived there, which is why I own a webpage of that name.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 06:53 AM

PeterC - just curious, why do you state that the Bourne part of the Ingrebourne doesn't describe what the river is?
It IS a narrow bed, resembling a stream for most of the time, but cut very deep because of intermittent very high flows of water.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: maps of generic names for waterways
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 07:20 AM

"There's another English county with two separate rivers with the same name, but I've forgotten which one -- sorry!"

Were you thinking of the Yeo(s) in Somerset?

Did anyone mention Mere as a body of water name?

By the way, the Lake district only has one main lake (Bassenthwaite) all the others are waters, tarns or other names.


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