Original vocabulary

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No aspect of the landscape features more prominently in the place-name record than water.  Collected here are terms which signal, either directly or indirectly, the presence of water in a particular place in English place-names.

The list includes references to water-loving animals and plants, wet soils, and associated structures such as bridges, quays, and weirs.  It also includes references to water channels, lakes and ponds, and wetland environments including marsh, moor, and fen.

Water terms derive from several languages: early Britonnic languages including Primitive Welsh; Old, Middle and Modern English; and the Scandinavian languages. These have been extracted from A.H. Smith’s two volume Elements of English Place-Names published in 1956.

The spectacularly rich water vocabulary that particularly speakers of Old English (the Anglo-Saxons to you and me) had at their disposal, really reveals them to have been not just acute observers of their surroundings but masters of it, possessing the kind of profound knowledge of their environment which today should be much envied.  We have much to learn from them.

Clicking on the initial letters below to access the terms.

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