Amerika

On January 18, 2011 · 4 Comments

Readers posted a number excellent comments in response to the recent Right Place — Wrong Side of the Atlantic article. It’s not just England where place names migrated counter-intuitively against the tide away from the Americas, but to other parts of Europe as well. I noticed patterns as I savored the comments including the repetition of Amerika (with a "k") as found in languages such as Czech, German, Dutch and many others.


Czech Republic



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Reader "Matt" knew about an Amerika in the Czech Republic. I found several, the most interesting being Lomy Amerika (website auto-translated), the America Quarries in the Central Bohemian Region. Lom Velká Amerika is the most impressive of the set, the "Great America Quarry," which is sometimes called the Czech Grand Canyon. Mining for limestone began here around 1900 and continued for decades thereafter.

The entire area is littered with deep quarries and connecting tunnels, and is renowned for diving, caving and general exploring. Czech Wikipedia explains that the name Amerika came from a nearby farmhouse but then the trail turned cold. I couldn’t trace it any further. The people who named the collective quarries continued the theme with some of the individual parcels, giving them names like Canada and Mexico.

I also found a tiny village called Amerika (perhaps the same one that Matt found?) near the slightly larger village of Pamětice, a bit north of Brno in the South Moravian Region. Additionally there is a pond named similarly near Františkovy Lázně in the Karlovy Vary Region, in the far western part of the country

Amerika seemed particularly popular in the Czech Republic.


Germany



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Reader "Robin" mentioned that there are two German villages called Amerika. I found one of them, the Amerika near Penig, in Saxony. I couldn’t find the other one. Robin, if you read this, could you place the lat/long coordinates or a Google Map link in the comments?

I visited the Penig site (website auto-translated). I loved the idea of an “Amerika’s Biergarten” and especially enjoyed the photo of the owner in a cowboy hat and vest. I don’t match the American cowboy stereotype but I suppose there are worse comparisons. I’ll accept cowboy.

It’s thought that this Amerika may have had something to do with people having to cross the Mulde River from Penig in the mid 19th Century so they could work in a local factory. Thus, sarcastically, they may have equated it with a long trip across the Atlantic. That’s the popular legend. The website admits that nobody really knows how Amerika got its name.


Netherlands



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I had time to find one more Amerika, this one in the province of Drenthe in the Netherlands. Dutch Wikipedia (website auto-translated) maintains, however, that this Amerika predates Columbus. It’s quite an interesting coincidence if that’s the case. Also, let’s be sure we don’t confuse it with the America in the province of Limburg.

Many other nations and languages use the Amerika spelling. I have no doubt that there must be several more examples spread throughout central and northern Europe. I’ll leave some of those for you to discover and cite in the comments unless I get an itch to start looking for more, which is entirely possible.

Happy hunting, and thanks for the interesting tangent.

On January 18, 2011 · 4 Comments

4 Responses to “Amerika”

  1. Wikipedia says for Amerika in Drenthe, the Netherlands: “Amerika in Drenthe was al bewoond toen Columbus voet aan land zette in het continent Amerika aan de overkant van de oceaan.” which actually translates to “People were already living in Amerika in Drenthe when Columbus set foot on the continent of America on the other side of the ocean”. It only says people were already living in that location, but it doesn’t explicitly say that the town was already named Amerika before 1492. I agree that it is implied though.

  2. Robin says:

    Of course I didn’t think of posting links, because I though I was easy enough to find them with Google Maps, however I was wrong, because I almost wasn’t able to find them myself this time.

    Anyway, the other Amerika I mentioned can be found at http://goo.gl/maps/eGpX . A short German Wikipedia article is here: http://goo.gl/7UTaD

    While I was at it I actually found a third German Amerika here: http://goo.gl/maps/Ehax Wikipedia: http://goo.gl/z5ZIl

    And that’s not all: There is also a Neu-Amerika (“New America”) here http://goo.gl/maps/DJhl and *three* Klein Amerika (“Small Amerika”): http://goo.gl/maps/AOkE , http://goo.gl/maps/v6wk and http://goo.gl/maps/vC2p. The latter interesting enough lies on a road named “Hobokken” – I have no idea where that name comes from.

  3. Peter says:

    The latter interesting enough lies on a road named “Hobokken” – I have no idea where that name comes from.

    More likely from the Antwerp suburb of Hoboken rather than the city of the same name in New Jersey. IINM, the New Jersey city is not named after the Belgian one, instead it’s a variation of the former Indian name.

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