What’s in a name?
My apologies to The Bard but I have no idea what the best answer to his query is.
What I do have at my disposal is a ceditra entry from two years ago. My random process for selecting subjects to write about (which still smells as sweet as a rose despite whatever it is called) landed me on page 203 of the book Boyd’s Curiosity Shop which states…
“Hells Canyon” originally was “Hellers Canyon” – in memory of an early Idaho miner.
First question…Was the canyon named for the miner Heller because this eponymous gentleman dies in said geographical feature?
Second question…Was this chap Heller related in any way to the only other famous Heller I can think of – the author of Catch-22, Joseph Heller?
Third question…How did the name morph from its original designation to the appellation we have today?
Why do names change?
Throughout history, people have altered what places have been called for one reason or another.
I’m not even going to dive into the “euphemism” phenomenon expertly articulated by George Carlin where the horrors of certain conditions are softened via linguistic obfuscation (i.e., “shell shock” become “post-traumatic stress disorder”).
One obvious reason why names change is for political reasons, also known as “winner’s prerogative”. After the Russian Revolution, St. Petersburg was renamed Leningrad. After the Soviet Union broke up (but continues to remain good friends despite the fact that Tajikistan still has Russia’s albums and Ayn Rand books), the name was changed back.
Another reason is for cultural sensitivity. Aboriginal names are starting to make a comeback and replace the names imposed upon them by Western explorers. Ayers Rock in Australia is being known again as Uluru. Alaska’s Mount McKinley becomes Denali and India is now referring to Bombay as Mumbai.
Of course Constantinople is now called Istanbul. Why? It’s nobody’s business but the Turks.