Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Meanings of Country Names – a Map (Western Hemisphere)

Everyone probably knows that Ecuador has something to do with the equator, right? (It’s just the Spanish for that.) In a similar manner, you can probably figure out than Costa Rica means “rich coast” and Puerto Rico means “rich port.” You probably don’t need to be fluent in Spanish to figure those out.

But how about all those other countries? You might know that the US of A was named after one Amerigo Vespucci. But where did Amerigo come from? Yeah, Bolivia’s from Simon Bolivar, but what does his name mean? And God only knows where Guatemala and Uruguay come from.

So, here are a couple of maps that show what the Western Hemisphere would like if the countries’ names were all translated into English, from whatever their ultimate sources might be.

More maps:

North America

By the way, America is the Latin version of Amerigo, which is the Italian version of Emmerich, which means “rich house” (among other possibilities). Vespucci, on the other hand, means “little wasp.” 

Central America & the Caribbean

An alternate source of Belize is a native version of Wallace, after Peter Wallace, a Scottish pirate who established the first settlement in the country. Wallace, in turn, means “Welshman.”

South America

Venezuela means “little Venice,” and was named by none other than Amerigo Vespucci (I tell you, the guy got around). The native houses on stilts above Lake Maracaibo reminded him of the Italian city. 

Venice itself is traced back to a tribe called the Veneti. Their name, in turn, traces back to an Indo-European root meaning “love.” And all that probably means is that the tribe was friendly.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Meanings of State Names – a Map

Everyone probably knows that Virginia was named after Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen.” And, if you know a little Spanish, you might know that Colorado is from the Spanish for “red” (chile colorado, anyone?)

I’ll bet you didn’t know, though, that Iowa means “sleepy ones.” Indeed, over half of our states derive their names from an Indian tongue. And if you don’t know any Algonquian, or Shawnee, or O'odham, you might have a little difficulty figuring all those out.

So, here’s what the US would like if the states’ names were all translated into English:

Couple of things ...

Note – There’s tons of disagreement on where some of these names come from. I feel I had to pick something, though, so I’ve gone with what I deemed the most likely.

Person – There’s no less than 15 states named after people (oh, and 1 god). Several of these are friendly people, but we’ve also got one enemy as well. Some are pretty generic (Carolina is from Charles, which basically means “man”), but we’ve also got some that are very particular – if not downright peculiar – including:
  • Farmer (Georgia is from George, which is Greek for “farmer”)
  • Thicket clearers
  • Speaks normally
  • Sleepy ones

Place – Looks like we’ve got 10 places (states, that is) named after other places. Some of these are pretty obvious – basically, adjective + land form – but some are rather out there:
  • Bitter land – Mary is from the Hebrew word for “bitter” (now, why anyone would want to name their baby girl that is another matter entirely)
  • Wheat sheaf town – Yup, that’s what our first president’s surname supposedly means
  • Sheep pen woods – the “Penn” denotes someone who lived near a sheep pen; the “Sylvania” is just Latin for “woods.”

Water – Well, I guess you could say that a body of water is a thing. But there were just so darn many of ‘em (9), I thought I would separate 'em out. Nothing too odd here, and they’re all from Indian languages. By the way, there are also 4 that are related to water, including 2 islands, some river flats, and 1 “wooden boat.”

Adjectives – 8 states are simple adjectives, with 4 of those coming straight from the Spanish. “Of the war” is the oddest one here (and is actually from a Lord de la Warr, some Colonial dude).

Other thing – Maybe I should have called this “Miscellaneous.” We’ve got 2 winds, 1 tree, and 1 lime kiln. Yeah, that's pretty random.

More maps:

Monday, January 15, 2018

How gerrymandered are we?

It’s a problem, right? I mean, look at this map of my home state:

Or, how about this map of the Detroit area:

And finally (and also to show it’s not just a Republican thing), this one of Maryland’s 3rd congressional district:

So, obviously there’s a problem here. But how to show it in a nice concrete, mathematical way?


This one is actually pretty straightforward. Here’s what I did:
  1. Totally eliminated Louisiana (they have some weird system where that does not pit Republicans and Democrats against each other straight up)
  2. Calculated the percentage of Republicans in each house delegation (e.g., Mississippi, with 3 Republicans and 1 Democrat, comes in at 75%)
  3. Calculated the percentage of Republican votes cast in all house races (once again, Mississippi, with 681,000 Republican votes to 450,000 Democratic ones, come in at 60%)
  4. Subtracted the difference between the two, to see what kind of advantage dividing the state up into districts might have had (in Mississippi’s case, 15%)
  5. Ranked them all
So, not unlike comparing the electoral vote to the popular in the presidential election. But with this one being a lot more amenable to actual intervention.

Let’s see what we came up with …

"Dirty" Sweep

There are actually 11 states out there that are solely Republican or solely Democrat.  Now, some of them have only 1 congressional delegate to begin with, so we really can’t point to gerrymandering in those instances. I’ve gone ahead and shown those here, but with light shading to distinguish them:

A couple of things to note:
  • The Republicans have a distinct advantage, 11 to 6
  • They are strongest in the Plains and mountains, the Dems in the Northeast
  • Massachusetts wins the prize for 1-party state, with the highest number of delegates all of one party, at 9

Too True Blue

So, I think we can already see that this can go both ways. Now, here are the states that had 10% more delegates than they should have had, based on state-wide votes:

Note that I did eliminate the states with only 1 delegate (no chance of gerrymandering there).

Now, just to give you an idea of the strength of these differences, here’s a nice bar chart:

So, except for Nevada, pretty much the usual suspects, right?

Too True Red

And here’s what it looks like on the other side of the aisle:

And numbers wise:

No surprise there with the solid South, but how about all those states in the Midwest? 

Just Right

So, is there anyone playing fair out there? Luckily, there are a few. Here are the 10 states that were under 10%, positive or negative:

And here’s how that shook out exactly:

Pretty scattered around, no? Also, some of these seemed pretty obviously purple – Illinois and Colorado, in particular. I really am wondering, though, what Texas (on one side) and New York (on the other) are doing here.

Final Thoughts
  • Republicans win the gerrymandering sweepstakes, with a score of 22 states over the 10% threshold to 10 for the Dems
  • New Hampshire wins the most gerrymandered state award with a difference of -48% (it has 2 Democratic congressmen, though only 52% of the state voted for a Democratic candidate)
  • Arizona gets the least gerrymandered state award, with a difference of only 1% (Maine comes in 2nd with 2%)
  • There are other, much more detailed ways to looks at this (ways that I will leave to the professionals), but I did think this was rather interesting as a quick read

Saturday, January 6, 2018

My Favorite Demonyms

Your favorite what? Why, my favorite demonyms.

Heck, not even the word editor in Blogger recognizes the term. All it really is, though, is a word for a person from a certain place. You know, a North Carolinian ... a Pittsburgher ... an Englishman (I am or have been all 3 of those, by the way).

Now, those are all pretty normal. There are, however, plenty of ... um ... rather interesting ones out there. Like these ...

Countries, States & Provinces
  • Utah - Utahn
  • Yukon - Yukonian
  • Tuvalu -Tuvaluan
  • St Kitts & Nevis - Kittitian / Nevesian
  • Botswana - Motswana
  • Burundi - Umurundi
  • Lesotho - Mosotho
  • Kiribati - i-Kiribati
  • Vanuatu - Ni-Vanuatu
  • Flanders - Fleming
  • Isle of Man - Manxman 

American Cities
  • Memphis - Memphian
  • Phoenix - Phoenician
  • Annapolis - Annapolitan
  • Minneapolis - Minneapolitan
  • Indianapolis - Indianapolitan
  • Tampa - Tampanian (the alternate "Tampan" just sounds too much like a feminine hygiene product)
  • Saskatchewan - Saskatchewanian
  • Halifax - Haligonian
  • Little Rock - Little Rocker

British Cities

For some reason, the British Isles seem to have a corner on this stuff.

  • Glasgow - Glaswegian (more familiarly, a Weegie)
  • Galway - Galwegian
  • Bath - Bathonian (so, what's wrong with Bather?)
  • Cork - Corkonian (or Corker, for that matter?)
  • Devon - Devonian (though I associate this more with the Paleozoic era)
  • Exeter - Exonian
  • Oxford - Oxonian
  • Manchester - Mancunian (more familiarly, a Manc)
  • Cambridge - Cantabrigian
  • Leeds - Leodensian
  • Newcastle - Novocastrian (yup, that's the Latin translation)
  • Liverpool - Liverpudlian

Other Cities
  • Monaco - Monegasque
  • Hong Kong - Hong Konger (Hong Kongese is what I'm familiar with)
  • Prague - Praguer
  • Bucharest - Bucharester
  • Damascus - Damascene (I mostly associate this with a form of metalworking)
  • Macao - Macanese
  • Hamburg - Hamburger
  • Frankfurt - Frankfurter
  • Oslo - Oslovian
  • Corfu - Corfiot (like Cyprus/Cypriot, I guess)