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Map Reveals the Secrets Behind Place Names

If you’ve got a date in New York, she’ll be waiting in New Wild Boar City, according to a new etymological map of the world.

It is difficult to find anyone these days who is not familiar with Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical world of orcs, hobbits and dwarves. A whole generation of film-goers is familiar with such place names like "Dead Marshes" and "Mount Doom."

But this peculiar nomenclature isn’t unique to Middle Earth. In fact, such names are everywhere. In France, for example, youl’ll find the City of Boatmen. The Caucasus plays host to the Land of the Fire Keepers. And who hasn’t dreamed of vacationing in the Land of Calves? But to get to these places, you’ll need a new map, which should be hitting bookstores in the Great Land of the Tattooed – Great Britain – by the end of the month.

Called the "Atlas of True Names," the new map traces the etymological roots of European and global place names and then translates them into English. The "City of Boatmen" is also known as Paris. Should you travel to the Land of the Fire Keepers, you’d find yourself in Azerbaijan. And Italy comes from the Latin word vitulus, which means "calf."

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February 24, 2009