Names for small bodies of water and small valleys

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Mon Aug 4 14:23:41 UTC 2008

The second post on this page includes some interesting information,
with maps, of how the various names for small bodies of water and
small valleys vary across the United States

(The links directly to the posts do not work, so you'll have to scroll
down until you see the maps.)

Paul Fly, who runs the site, used Geographic Names Information System
information to map out where words like creek, brook, prong, fork,
branch, pond, run, lake, are most used. He did the same for hollow,
gulch, gap, pass, notch, and saddle.

There are some striking delineations to be seen.

For example, "creek" is widespread, but "brook" is almost exclusive to
New England. "Pond," too, is more common in New England. "Fork" is far
more common in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, and there are only
tiny pockets of people in Maryland, eastern Tennessee/western North
Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Colorado/Montana that use "prong."

Most interesting is the very clear dividing line between "branch" and
"run." I am also particularly interested in the non-use of either term
near the Mississippi River valley, starting, more or less, below
Cairo, Illinois.

Grant Barrett
gbarrett at
113 Park Place, Apt. 3
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(646) 286-2260

The American Dialect Society -

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