“York” has been translated as “place of yew trees” and as “wild boar town.” In 2008, The Atlas of True Names suggested that the true name of New York City is “New Wild Boar Village.”
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The city was then renamed “New York,” in honor of the then Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy (and secret Catholic), soon to be ignominious loser the Battle of the Boyne (and downfall of the House of Stuart), James, the Duke of York & Albany.
This is the guy who marched a Catholic army into Ireland and lost, earning him the gaelic nickname Séamus á Chaca, or “James the Shit”.
But where did “York” come from in the first place?
The Celts used to call this particular bit of what is now northern England Eborakon, or “place of yew trees”. When the Romans took over, as was their want, they changed the name ever so slightly to Eboracum. Then came a couple of misunderstandings. The Anglo-Saxons heard Ebor as their own Eofor, and changed the name to Eoforw?c, or “wild-boar town”. The Vikings in turn heard Eoforw?c as their own Jórvík, or “horse bay”. Ever the economizers, the Normans then simplified this to “York”.
Therefore, “New York” can be taken to mean:
“New Place of Yew Trees”,
“New Wild Boar Town” (though my preference would be for “New Pork”),
“New Horse Bay”,
Posted by Gregory Stuart Edwards at 6:18 PM
New York (NY) Times - The Lede
November 21, 2008, 9:21 am
In Place Names, Old Meanings Made New
By Graham Bowley
Many of us may often possess an urge to see the world in fresh ways.
Two German cartographers have produced a set of maps — The Atlas of True Names — that claims to return many of the world’s place names to their original linguistic meaning and renders that meaning into English, according to a report in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.
New York? “New Wild Boar Village.”
(Apparently, York, in England, derives from the Old English eofor for wild boar and the Latin vicus for village.)
Great Britain? “Great Land of the Tatooed.”
Halifax? “Remote Corner Where Rough Grass Grows.”
According to Stephan Hormes, one of the creators of the atlas, “the names give you an insight into what the people saw when they first looked at a place, almost with the eyes of children.”
10:10 am Hmmm… I always thought “York” came from the Celtic “Eborac,” meaning “yew tree.”
— Posted by Naughty Nitpicker
2:16 pm I would argue that the York in New York is originally from the Roman name for the British town — Eboracense, Eboracensis, Eboracum — which was a reference not to the wild boar itself, but to boar tusks, as a place where there was a market for that item — connected to the Latin, ebur, ebor — for ivory. The Saxon name would be a calque reflecting the fact that the animal and the animal by-product are very often called by the same name. It may also be that the old York was a center for narwhale ivory and both ivories were called by the same name.
So, in a sense, New York would actually be New Ivory Town. Or New Tusk.
— Posted by steve long
Atlas of True(?) Names
November 22, 2008 @ 2:06 am · Filed by Benjamin Zimmer under Linguistic history, Lost in Translation, Names
As reported by Der Spiegel and picked up by the New York Times blog The Lede, two German cartographers have created The Atlas of True Names, which substitutes place names around the world with glosses based on their etymological roots. It’s a very clever idea, but in execution it enshrines some questionable notions of “truth.”
The cartographers, Stephan Hormes and his wife Silke Peust, say they were inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s maps of Middle Earth, which include names like “Dead Marshes” and “Mount Doom.” So they’ve filled their world maps with similarly descriptive toponyms. “We wanted to let the Earth tells its own story,” Stephan Hormes told Der Spiegel. “The names give you an insight into what the people saw when they first looked at a place, almost with the eyes of children. Through the maps, we wanted to show what they saw.”
Some of the etymological glosses given in The Atlas of True Names are misleading in other ways. “New York” is given as “New Wild Boar Village.” That’s based on the idea that York in England derives from Old English eofor “wild boar” + Latin vicus village. But the Anglo-Saxon name Eoferwic was evidently a folk etymology of sorts, reinterpreting the earlier toponym Eboracum, a Latinization of Celtic Eborakon, said to mean “place of yew trees.” So should the “true” name of (New) York relate to boars or yews?