I come across various language trivia lists on the Intertubes all the time. They cover a thousand different topics but some of them focus on words of unnatural length composed solely of vowels. It doesn’t take much to entertain me but you already knew that. They’re somewhat amusing but they do tend to stretch towards the bizarre. Many of the more remarkable words rarely appear in normal conversations. They may qualify from a technical sense but they feel a bit dubious to me. Others are proper names including various geographic locations, and of course those are the ones that interest me the most.
The lists all seem to steal liberally from each other. They blatantly parrot and plagiarize. It’s impossible to uncover the original source. However, I’ve not seen anyone attempt to confirm and map the alleged geographic locations so maybe I can add some value to this pursuit. I found some of the locations but others were too obscure, assuming they actually exist, and I couldn’t locate them in any of the standard online mapping services.
Here are the locations I could find.
Aiea, Hawaii, USA
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Aiea is one of the best all-vowel examples. It’s a four-vowel tongue twister. I’m not sure I’d call it a "town" per se — the government calls it a census-designated place — rather it’s more properly a suburb of Honolulu, Hawaii. Nine thousand people live here so it’s definitely a legitimate geographic location though.
The name has been passed down from one of the original Hawaiian land divisions (or Ahupua’a) dating back to the Hawaiian monarchy. Take a close look at the map and notice the various places bearing the Aiea name: high school; middle school; athletic field; shopping center; and a street. This is definitely one of the crown jewels of all-vowel locations.
Eiao, Marquesas Islands
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Eiao isn’t part of Old McDonald’s Farm but a major northwestern island of the Marquesas. It had an indigenous Polynesian population in ancient times. It later served briefly as a leper colony in the 19th Century. The French military also occupied Eiao as they explored possible nuclear testing sites in the 1970’s. Today, however, much of the island has been overrun and overgrazed by feral sheep and no humans live here. France hopes to return the island to its original ecosystem and they’ve created the Eiao Island Nature Reserve.
Select the Terrain button on the map and notice the elevated ridge that runs the length of the island. Eiao rises abruptly from the sea to an elevation of 576 meters (1,890 feet).
I confirmed other all-vowel geographic locations of lesser length.
- Å. Reputedly there are a number of towns that go by the single letter, Å. I found two in Norway: Å i Tranøy [map] and Å i Lofoten [map]. In both of these instances, "i" means "in" so Å i Tranøy means the town of Å in Tranøy. They add this qualifier so people know which Å is being referenced. There’s supposed to be an Å in Sweden too but I couldn’t locate it.
- Ea [map] is a town in Basque area of Spain.
- Ii [map] is located in Finland.
I also found a polar opposite. For your enjoyment, here is Llwchwr, the Anti-Vowel Community.
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Llwchwr is a community in Wales. I think just about anyone who might glance upon that strange string of consonants would probably guess the same. It’s found on the western edge of Swansea, and is
comprised of Loughor and Kingsbridge. I love those twisted Welsh words.