While we’re speaking of street suffixes — we were just speaking of street suffixes, weren’t we — and after the stravenue encounter, 12MC stumbled upon a suffix even more weirdness: Drung. Imagine, living not on a street, an avenue, a boulevard, a drive or even a terrace, rather a drung.
Drung used in this manner is extremely rare and applies to only one place, to Newfoundland. I’ve encountered the unique words that Newfoundlanders bring to English previously, for example the use of "tickle" to describe a narrow saltwater straight or a settlement abutting one. The same source that defined tickle, the ever-helpful Dictionary of Newfoundland English, also solved the mystery of drung. It was a "narrow lane or passage between houses, fenced gardens, etc." It derived from the Old English "thrang," which referred to a throng or a crowd. Variations of the term included drang and drong. I guess that would make a drung the tickle of roads.
I found very few instances of drung used as a street suffix, making it perhaps even more rare than stravenue. I discovered two very small clusters. I imagine there are probably additional examples out there and likely I would have found them with access to a database of Canadian street names. Drung was too close to Drunk or Drug, which seemed to confuse the search engines. No, I really did mean drung. They thought they knew better though, like I was drung [sic.] or something and too impaired to type the word correctly.
Cotter’s Drung to Tyre’s Drung, Carbonear, NL Canada
The first mini-cluster occurred in Carbonear, with the appearance of Cotter’s Drung and Tyre’s Drung.
Carbonear is "among the oldest settlements in North America" according to the town history. The history further explained that Carbonear had a name even before it had people, and applied to the area even before the establishment of the Cupids Colony, the oldest English settlement in Canada. The name came courtesy of migratory fishermen taking seasonal voyages to the nearby Grand Banks.
The name Carbonear may be French or Spanish. Some people think that the name comes from a Spanish word, “carbonera”, which can mean either “wood prepared for burning into charcoal”, “charcoal kiln”, or “woman who makes or sells charcoal”. If Carbonear is a French name, it might come from the French word “Carbonnier”, which is a family name from Picardy and Normandy in France. It might also come from “La Carbonnière”, which is a place-name in Normandy…
Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s
Alfred’s Drung to Solomon’s Drung, Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, NL Canada
The second mini-cluster occurred in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, with the appearance of Alfred’s Drung and Solomon’s Drung.
Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s is a new construct, an amalgamated town formed recently in 1992. However the piece-parts are old, and Portugal Cove in particular is extremely old. The town contends,
Portuguese fishermen were said to have first visited the area of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s in 1500, when Gasper Corte Real landed in Portugal Cove to bury two of his men that had died during the voyage from Lisbon. It is also believed that fishermen settled around the same time, as they used the cove to land and dry fish.
Thus, Carbonear and Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s have a couple of things in common: they both occupy the Avalon Peninsula and they both trace back to the earliest days of European exploration and settlement in Newfoundland. It made sense that an old Newfoundland English word would pass through the generations and into the modern age in both locations.
I found other instances of drung albeit not as a suffix (e.g., Drung Road, Rocky Drung Road). I suspect that drung might be used in this more generic manner more often than the specific suffix.
Other Uses of Drung
SOURCE: Google Street View, Drung, Co. Cavan, Ireland; June 2009
I discovered other instances of drung — completely unrelated to the Newfoundlandish usage of course — as I combed through online search engines. Is Newfoundlandish even a word? Regardless, Drung is a civil parish in County Cavan, Ireland. I found nothing about the etymology of Drung in this context and learned nothing else about the civil parish, other than it appeared on a map and it seemed to have a nice pub.
Another Drung appeared in China.
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The Drung (or Derung or Dulong) are one of China’s 56 officially recognized ethnic groups. They are also one of the smallest. They are very difficult to encounter, located in an extremely rugged, mountainous area near the border with Burma/Myanmar: "More than 6,000 members of the Derung nationality live in some of the most isolated terrain in all of China. Ninety percent of the Derung live in the extreme northwestern part of Yunnan Province, along the Dulong River basin in Gongshan County." I had quite a difficult time trying to locate the Dulong River Valley. I can’t say I found the exact spot inhabited by the Drung, however, the map should be pretty close.
I never would have imagined a single word, drung, could mean a narrow lane in Newfoundland, a civil parish in Ireland and an ethnic group in China. I think this demonstrated only that there are a finite number of easily pronounceable single-syllable words to go around. Coincidental repetitions are to be expected, and sometimes with surprising results.
I received a query about surnames that were the same as nations. An example might be Captain America, if indeed his first names was actually Captain and his surname was actually America instead of a pseudonym for Steve Rogers, and I guess while we’re at it, if he wasn’t a fictional character in a comic book. Maybe his surname would have to be "United States of America" if we wanted complete accuracy. Anyway, don’t read too much into the example. It’s intended merely to get the point across. Hopefully you now understand the question being asked.
It’s an interesting notion. Perhaps it aligns loosely with general genealogical origins of various peoples too. I turned to the United States Census Bureau’s "Frequently Occurring Surnames from Census 2000." I downloaded the file of surnames occurring 100 or more times.
On a bit of a tangent, naturally I searched for my relatively rare non-geography surname and found it tied for 76,946th place, shared by 232 people along with other obscure surnames such as Bottles, But, Coma, Crummy, Fangmann, Java, Junck, Octave and Tar. Zusi falls at the bottom of the list in case you were wondering, with 100 occurrences and tied for 150,436th place.
Certainly other sources could have been consulted to provide a more international point of view, however I had neither easy access to those sources nor did I want to stitch together a bunch of files. Also I figured the U.S. might serve as a decent proxy at least for the English-speaking world due to it’s large population and immigrant-heavy background. Others should feel free to build upon the data if so inclined.
I looked for every nation and territory listed in the CIA World Factbook. I searched for partial matches like Hong and Kong individually too. I also sought demonyms or gentilics, the names of groups of peoples or the languages they use, such as Russian for Russia. The results are all compiled in a public spreadsheet that everyone should be able to view.
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Saint Martin does best if partial matches are acceptable. Martin is the 17th most common surname in the United States with 672,711 instances in the 2000 Census. I have two quibbles: Saint Martin isn’t a standalone nation (as much as I enjoyed my visit) and it doesn’t carry the same weight as a complete match. King, in spite of all of the various Kingdoms including the UK, seems a little bogus too. Next comes the demonym Scott, followed by Cook for the Cook Islands in free association with New Zealand (named for Captain Cook!). These all lead me to believe that the cleanest, most completely unambiguous and frequent nationalist surname is Jordan.
One should not conclude that Michael Jordan or any of the 197,212 Jordans are necessarily Jordanian. However the surname and the nation do have a common root, an Aramaic/Hebrew word Yarden, “to descend.”
The River Jordan provides a name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and likely inspires the surname due to its religious significance. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Its importance is further emphasized by the biblical prominence of the Sea of Galilee, which the River Jordan flows into and out of along its watercourse.
Other candidates follow along further down the list. Holland might be a possibility although it’s just a portion of the Netherlands even though it’s often used synonymously. A couple of great demonyms also appear in this range, the surnames French and English. Let’s set all of those aside.
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The second best exact match also demonstrates biblical roots: King Solomon, son of David. Solomon was described as acquiring immense wealth in shipments from a faraway land called Ophir. Many people over the centuries speculated about the geographic placement of Ophir. The Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira offered his opinion when he stumbled upon a group of island in the South Pacific and named them after Solomon in 1568. Solomon was the 726th most common surname in the United States with 42,839 occurrences. I am sure there are famous people with the surname Solomon although I can’t think of any off the top of my head.
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Third place goes to something non-biblical although still religious in a sense: Ireland. "The modern Irish Éire evolved from the Old Irish word Ériu, which was the name of a Gaelic goddess." I think it’s probably safe to assume that the surname Ireland is more accurately a reflection of the United States’ immigrant roots unlike the other examples where the surname and the nation evolved separately from a common root. There were 14,168 Irelands in the United States including Kathy Ireland, the former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.
Let’s take a quick look at racial and Hispanic origin classifications. I’m sure there aren’t any minefields there, right? Even the Census Bureau walked delicately through the topic in its Explanation of Race and Hispanic Origin Categories that accompanied the 2000 Census:
The race and Hispanic origin categories used by the Census Bureau are mandated by Office of Management and Budget Directive No. 15, which requires all federal record keeping and data presentation to use four race categories (White, Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander) and two ethnicity categories (Hispanic, non-Hispanic). These classifications are not intended to be scientific in nature, but are designed to promote consistency in federal record keeping and data presentation.
I will follow the classifications designated in the 2000 Census since I am using its data source with specifically-named fields as mandated by the US government at the point in time of the survey. I know that other name(s) may be preferable in other contexts so please don’t feel you need to leave a comment with a correction. The Census Bureau seems to be saying the same thing in their note.
The highest percentage surname instances by race and Hispanic origin categories, discarding partial matches and demonyms are as follows:
- 99.67% of people with the surname Romania were white. Swede tied the percentage although that’s a demonym.
- 93.27% of people with the surname Senegal were black.
- No nationalist surname correlated closely with American Indian and Alaska Native populations. 53.78% of people with the demonym surname Mexican were American Indian and Alaska Native though.
- 78.55% of people with the surname Austria were Asian and Pacific Islander (Austria?!?). More logically the demonym Thai was 94.67% though.
- 96+% of people with the surnames Nicaragua, Guatemala and Jamaica were Hispanic.
The only one that surprised me was Austria. It’s hard to understand why the vast majority of people with the surname Austria classified themselves as Asian and Pacific Islander.
I believe I’ll try this experiment next with state names so if this article didn’t interest you feel free to come back in about a week.
Examining the Emerald Isle, it becomes apparent to me that Northern Ireland comes very close to separating the tip of the Republic of Ireland from the remainder of its body. The neck constricts to perhaps as few as ten or eleven kilometres at its narrowest point between the border and the sea.
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It’s even shorter if we look at the width of available land: nearby Lough Melvin compresses any overland passage through here to only about six or seven kilometres. Still, it’s unobstructed countryside with many different paths available through the neck to make it a relatively simple transit. A much more remarkable situation exists a little further north in Ballyshannon, the so-called "Oldest Town in Ireland." Here the River Erne flows from Northern Ireland, crosses the entirety of the narrow neck, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
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The River Erne creates a water barrier that separates the tip from the remainder of the nation. As a practical matter there are bridges, boats, aircraft, and innumerable other ways to solve this problem. It’s not even that large of a river. Someone could probably swim or wade across it without too much difficulty. However let’s ignore those very realistic possibilities, suspend our disbelief for a moment, cross our eyes, wave our magic wand and try to have some fun with this.
Consulting the maps, the overland path through the neck appears to constrict to the width of a couple of roadways: those that connect Ballyshannon and points beyond to the rest of the Republic of Ireland directly: a local street (Main St.) and a highway (N15). Those are the only choices if someone wishes to take an automotive trek past the neck without leaving the country.
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Another option exists for those on foot, a really cool pedestrian bridge in Ballyshannon that crosses the River Erne. I’m not sure what it connects or why it’s altogether necessary. It looks to be less than a quarter-mile from the Main Street crossing but I suppose that it could make a meaningful difference to someone on foot. There are a several apartment buildings nearby so maybe it’s a nice shortcut between various sections of town.
A dam also crosses the river just east of Ballyshannon to create Assaroe Lake. Workers at the hydroelectric power station might be able to cross here on foot although I don’t think it would be feasible for members of the general public. I imagine the authorities would consider that a safety risk or a security violation.
In conclusion, I discovered only three easy paths across the River Erne under ordinary circumstances within the boundaries of the Republic of Ireland, two large enough for motor vehicles and one only by foot. That assumes one does not have routine access to a boat, helicopter, pole vault, or other extenuating means of movement.
I found one more "almost" crossing point where the River Erne flows across the border from Northern Ireland. There is a bridge located immediately to the west but the border hugs the northern riverbank along a short segment here. Thus the bridge crosses an international boundary. It’s interesting to note, however, that people from Northern Ireland can use this bridge as a shortcut, clipping a corner of the Republic of Ireland, and avoid a detour of several miles (map)
Long-time reader Steve of CTMQ recently completed a visit to the CTMARI Tripoint. Check out his thorough trip report. He’s also recently discovered a state government website that show the exact location of every Connecticut boundary marker in tremendous detail. Steve doesn’t think he’ll visit all 374 markers but we should expect to see upcoming trip reports on some of the more fascinating ones. I’ve been trying to turn him into a County Counter so far to no avail, but he seems to be getting closer-and-closer.