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Transcript: What’s in a name?
A long time ago, I ordered some elephant pooKothaufen, Kackapoo from Chester Zoo, as an unusual present for a friend. In theory, it’s good for the garden, and my friend’s a keenbegeistertkeen gardener.
franklyoffen gesagtFrankly, it wasn’t a hit, even though it came in a nice box with the name of the elephant that produced it. It was smellystinkendsmelly and he opened it in the living room, thinking it might be marzipan.
It was a silly, childish trick. In any case, you can’t buy it nowadays, even though it’s a premium product from Britain’s most popular zoo. Why is the zoo so popular? Well, it’s in Chester; I think the name helps. Old Roman towns with “-chester” in their name are usually on to a winner. Colchester also has a popular zoo. Chichester has a beautiful cathedral. Manchester has world-famous football teams.
Not every place is so lucky. A mile or two from Chichester, there’s a seaside town called Bognor. Many seaside towns have been having a hard time. Some have tried to to regenerateerneuernregenerate their economy, like Margate, with its swankyangeberisch, protzigswanky new modern art gallery. Others, like Poole, are quite rich, but they’re ugly. The only thing wrong with Bognor is its name, which people (quite unfairly) make fun of.
Could a zoo at Bognor ever rival the one at Chester? Will there ever be a premier league football team called Bognor United? When Chichester asked Leonard Bernstein to write some music for its cathedral choirChorchoir, he sent them a wonderful piece called the Chichester Psalms. Would he have written the Bognor Psalms if the cathedral had been built a few miles down the road?
The most famous thing about Bognor is probably its connectionVerbindungconnection with George V. The king was to recoversich erholenrecovering from lung surgeryLungenoperationlung surgery, so a stay at Bognor, with its healthy sea air, seemed ideal. Then the town asked if it could call itself Bognor Regis. “buggerMistdingBugger Bognor!” was his reaction — or so the story goes.
What about renaming it Bogchester? Technically, that would require a few Roman remains, and anyway, it’s the first syllable that’s the problem: the word “bogSumpf, Moor; hier ifml.: Klobog” is slang for “toilet” in British English.
The railway doesn’t help either. Every British station has a three-letter code. This makes it easier to book tickets online. It’s often the first three letters of a name. Not the last three — luckily for London’s Waterloo Station, for “loo” is another word for “toilet”.
It’s unlucky for Bognor, though, because people with a childish sense of humour to sniggerloskichernsnigger when they look at the list of station codes while waiting for their train.
I must have been sniggering quite loudly. “Are you all right, sir?” an official-sounding voice said nearby. I turned to see a serious-looking young railwayman, who clearly saw me as another senile passenger needing help.
“I’m fine, thanks. I was just amused by the station code for Bognor.” Suddenly, he looked less serious. “Have you seen the one for Poole?” he to whisperflüsternwhispered.
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