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The promiscuous streets of Edinburgh

pensive.jpgIn a street name like Sesame Street, let us (just for clarity) refer to the more distinctive part (Sesame) as the forename, and the classificatory word part (Street) as the classname…. In Edinburgh, the city to which I moved a few days ago, things are very different. Nobody leaves off the classname here. It would be a ticket to confusion and madness. Let me explain…. Did your hasty notes on a beer coaster say that you promised last night to pick up your hot date this Friday at a flat on Craigmount? You will find there are many ways to lose your lover: you might be looking for Craigmount Approach, Craigmount Avenue, Craigmount Avenue North, Craigmount Bank, Craigmount Bank West, Craigmount Brae, Craigmount Crescent, Craigmount Court, Craigmount Drive, Craigmount Gardens, Craigmount Green, Craigmount Green North, Craigmount Hill, Craigmount Loan, Craigmount Park, Craigmount Place, Craigmount Terrace, Craigmount View, or perhaps Craigmount Way. Lots of luck with arriving on time for that date. Next time get a phone number too. As Andrew Durdin has pointed out to me, Buckstone is a particularly promiscuous forename. Street atlases list all of these: Buckstone Avenue Buckstone Bank Buckstone Circle Buckstone Close Buckstone Court Buckstone Crescent Buckstone Crook Buckstone Dell Buckstone Drive Buckstone Gardens Buckstone Gate Buckstone Green Buckstone Grove Buckstone Hill Buckstone Lea Buckstone Loan Buckstone Loan East Buckstone Neuk Buckstone Place Buckstone Rise Buckstone Road Buckstone Row Buckstone Shaw Buckstone Terrace Buckstone View Buckstone Way Buckstone Wood Buckstone Wynd That’s 28 different Buckstone streets. And for good measure there is also one that has no classname, just an attributive premodifier of the forename: High Buckstone.

So writes linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum.

Improbable Research