Wyn Drabble: Mapping out the rudest laughs

By Wyn Drabble

I delight in people who have too much time on their hands and use it frivolously for the enjoyment of mankind. London geo-technologist Gary Gale, is such a person - a "geek with a life" he calls himself.

Gale has had a love affair with maps ever since he can remember, but his newest map combines this passion with a love of ... well ... innuendo, I suppose. He has compiled a map of the world pinpointing all the suggestive (or sometimes blatantly offensive) place names in the world.

If I had the time and the money, I'm sure I would spend it on a similar pursuit. For the good of mankind.

It was a recent news item that alerted me to the worthwhile work of Mr Gale.

The headline proclaimed that a New Zealand location had made it on to the world "rude" map.

I was interested because I had dealt with the same subject some years ago in this very space, but I failed to mention this place.

His New Zealand listing is Shag Point in Otago. Of course, we all know it was named after the sea birds that congregate there, but maybe he knows more than we do.

Perhaps it's a known meeting place where shags can form romantic alliances. It could well be the world capital of avian seaside rumpy-pumpy.

I certainly hope these sorts of shenanigans are not commonplace at the far more tastefully named Cape Kidnappers. I'm sure gannets have more important things to do than shag ... sorry, I mean ... than shags. My last visit suggested that eliminating waste was a high priority.

I'm sorry, but it is hard to be tasteful describing the work of Mr Gale. I think I'm doing pretty well given some of the real place names he has listed.

Some I will not even be mentioning, particularly the name of a pretty little village near Salzburg on the German-Austrian border.

If you're curious, you'll just have to use Google Maps to find it. This is a family newspaper. (There's an even worse example in Spain.)

But let's look at some of the tamer examples from around the world. It's hard to imagine how these names came about.

Perhaps they were created by committees.

There's a pretty little town in south-west France called Condom.

In China, you can find Long Dong, in Denmark, Middelfart, and in Wyoming, US, Maggie's Nipples.

If you're in Australia, you must visit Spanker Knob or Tittybong. For your convenience, both are in Victoria.

Okay, that's all I'm going to mention.

Rest assured that these place names are real and that I have only listed a few of the tame ones. Some of the others defy belief.

Some of you are probably eating breakfast so I would like to get right away from innuendo but, if I may, stay with the issue of nomenclature.

In many cases, the inappropriate naming is cross-cultural; it is not offensive to the native culture but takes on a different spin for other cultures.

Take our own Te Puke for example. Most Australians seem to get a huge guffaw out of that one but New Zealanders have the advantage of knowing how to pronounce it.

Other cases, such as the strange and often inappropriate naming of children, I can only put down to ignorance. I'm not willing to give any examples here because it would be unfair to the innocent recipients of such names.

Japanese car names have long suffered from what we shall call translation issues. Using a dictionary simply does not work because dictionaries don't tend to do connotations or context. This has, of course, led to plenty of laughs for English-speaking Westerners.

Some favourites have been: Isuzu GIGA 20 Light Dump, Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard, Honda Life Dunk, Honda That's, Mitsubishi Guts, Yamaha Pantryboy Supreme, Mitsubishi MUM 500 Shall We Join Us?

"Hello. Service department? I'd like to book my Pantryboy in to be serviced please."

I'd like to finish with a prediction. I'm going to stick my neck out here and predict what the next model Mitsubishi will be called.

It will be a sporty little number bearing the name, Mitsubishi Shag.

- Northern Advocate

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