On occasion I have found the English language to be a bit lacking in finesse. Most of the time it seems to be with place names.
I live in New Orleans and there is a restaurant here called Cochon Restaurant. Sounds like a nice place to eat right? Well, if you speak French (or at least know a bit of it from living in the area all your life) you know that cochon is French for ‘pig’. Now it’s not such a nice place to consider dining. Pig Restaurant doesn’t have that same flare.
Likewise, when I lived in California, I had a friend who lived in a town called Los Banos. I never thought anything of it until I was at a gas station one day and saw a huge sign hanging in the corner with those words on it. It was sort of arrow-shaped so I investigated and fell into fits of giggles when I found that the sign was pointing to the bathrooms. I couldn’t resist calling him soon after to ask how life was in the bathroom.
I’ve discovered similar situations in the UK. As the days pass and we get closer to the Royal Wedding, the press here in the US is going mad. We’re so hung up on one of the very things our forefathers supposedly wanted to escape when we told off ol’ George that it amuses me. Anyway, in my browsing of the Internet, I happened across a listing of Royal Residences, one of which was The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. Imagine my surprise when I learnt that this is, effectively, the royal garage and stables. Yes, I can see how The Royal Mews is prefered to The Royal Garage and Stables. LOL
One of my favourite place names in England also happens to be a veritable thorn in a dear friend’s side. Alas I could not persuade him to take me there for a visit whilst I was there in 2010. I don’t recall the circumstances which introduced me to the city of Weston-super-Mare, but I just think it’s a fantastic name. Even when I learnt that it means Weston by the sea, I still think it’s a cool name. Of course there are loads of places with cool/funny names in the UK. That’s part of the charm.