Monday, February 8, 2016

off-topic: Explore & compare place names from 13 countries

Open Data Zurich points out to this interactive application to explore names of places in 13 countries. The data comes from OpenStreetMap.

On a curious note on the catholic roots of Brazil, a bit over 10% of all 5565 municipalities in Brazil are named after a saint. This proportion is less than 1.5% in Italy.



Joe R said...

Funny about Brazil, hints at a lack of imagination in place-names, but the place is vast, so coming up with new place-names all the time must be exhausting. And bureaucrats aren´t the most imaginative people on earth!

Also, if you translate some of the State names to English you get results like; General Mines, Big River of the North, Big River of the South, River of January, Thick Jungle, Thick Jungle of the South. For me at least, they lose any exotic connotations when you realize these.

Just for another comparison, I note that little Ireland has about 188 saints to Brazil´s mere 6, but you lot are a much more sinful bunch, in fairness!

Ireland actually had families of them. I mean actual families. As in three brothers were all canonized as saints. That is how well behaved the Irish are!

Actually, coming back to your thought above on Brazilian naming customs I do think Ireland is much more Catholic as a nation than Brazil is, up to recently most certainly in so much as it is possible to ascertain that. I doubt, however, that there is anything close to 10% of Irish place-names named after a saint. I would say it could be closer to Italy´s figure, possibly much less even. I can´t think of many off the top of my head.

When I think about Brazilian place-names and their repeated reliance on religious names I think perhaps it was to do with fear of slaves and Indians more so than anything else. I mean by that, it was part of a general attempt to force a white European identity, religion, morality and culture on the population before they started to think about themselves in terms of their own identity ( mixed or pure ) and which could have led to some kind of independent thought or political movement.

This is a big theme in the destruction and rebuilding of Cusco in Peru and also at Lake Titicaca, two key Inka sites in the altiplano, by the Spanish.

The English imposed some placenames on Ireland during a similar period of History ( 16&17th century ), but they used names usually related to the reigning regent like Maryborough, Charleville, Kingstown or Queenstown. Not much imagination there either! And five minutes after they were gone the Irish went about renaing them all, too. Another point is that Ireland was Christian (Catholic, not Protestant though) so there isn´t much point in naming your new colonial places after saints to invoke favour and for protection from your enemies if your enemies also pray to the exact same saints!

Joe R said...

*went about renaming them...

Anonymous said...

Brazil also has dozens of neighborhoods and street names with the name of Jewish culture, canaã, Mount of Olives etc ..