"Word" words?

Dan Goodman dsgood at IPHOUSE.COM
Sat Apr 26 02:22:45 UTC 2008

Mark Mandel wrote:
> On Fri, Apr 25, 2008 at 12:42 PM, Dan Goodman <dsgood at iphouse.com> wrote:
>> Guy Letourneau wrote:
>>  > Any comments? Is there a katana sword, an ushanka hat, or borscht soup?
>>  Not quite the same thing, but there's our old friend Torpenhow Hill.
> Which may be also "not quite".

Another fine myth gone!

At least we still have the La Brea Tar Pits.

> Here's an excerpt (all I've been able
> to find on line without paying) from the beginning of "The debunking
> of Torpenhow Hill" by Darryl Francis, in _Word Ways_ of Feb. 2003
> (found at http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-2516082/The-debunking-of-Torpenhow-Hill.html#abstract):
> In his second book, Beyond Language (1967), Dmitri Borgmann posed a
> problem and offered a solution that have both gone unremarked until
> now, over 35 years later. For those who don't have the book, here is
> part of Problem 35. Etymological Eccentricities:
> Find a word or name that exhibits a pure, quadruple redundancy,
> consisting of four elements identical in meaning.
> The resolution provided by Borgmann runs as follows:
> In The Story of English, Mario Pei mentions a ridge near Plymouth,
> England, called TORPENHOW HILL. This name consists of the Saxon TOR,
> the Celtic PEN, the Scandinavian HAUGR (later transposed into HOW),
> and the Middle English HILL, all four of them meaning "hill". Hence,
> the modern name of the ridge is actually "Hillhillhill Hill"!
> The Catalyst
> On a recent holiday in the English county of Cumbria (part of which
> used to be called Cumberland), I noticed the name Torpenhow on a road
> sign. As I was 400 miles from Plymouth (which is in the English county
> of Devon), I wondered if this was another Torpenhow, different from
> the one mentioned in Dmitri's book. I detoured through the small but
> unremarkable village of Torpenhow. No sign of any local feature that
> could conceivably be Torpenhow Hill.
> On returning home, I started to do some checking on the Internet and
> in my local library. I concluded that there was no such place or
> geographical feature as Torpenhow Hill, and that this is a fiction
> that has been repeated and re-repeated many times...

Dan Goodman
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