Tuesday, March 30, 2010

 

Mammary Toponymy

Mark Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), pp. 61-62 (footnotes and figure references omitted):
[T]he male anatomy is commerorated far less frequently than the female form because phallic landforms are comparatively rare in nature and most of the namers were men. While I found nothing else evocative of the male member in GNIS—please don't ask what I tried—the database yielded twenty-eight feature names based on tit, an even hundred with nipple, and a handful based on teat or breast. Not surprisingly, almost all of the features are summits, and few are east of the Mississippi, where the early wave of white settlers generally had stronger religious ties. The Maine coast boasts two prominent exceptions: a small island with the one-word name Nipple lies less than a quarter mile from a tiny rocky island named Virgins Breasts.
Most of these place names, alas, are doomed, victims of political correctness. As Gilleland's Law states, everything offends someone.

The title of this post comes from a phrase in Monmonier, p. 64.

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