Rue Poirier de Narcay

When I was 16 in 1988 I spent a couple of days in Paris with a language school. I brought the address for a game store, one that advertised in White Dwarf magazine. It was on Rue Poirier de Narcay, which turned out not to be a central location, and so I never went there. But I’ve wondered off and on through the years about this funny street name, “The street of the pear tree of Narcay”.

And now, of course, the net can cure any idle wonderings in an instant. Turns out, the street is named for a medical doctor, Robert Poirier de Narcay, whose dissertation De l’ascite congénitale was published in 1884. It’s about congenital ascites, “abdominal dropsy”. In 1900 the doctor published the novel La Bossue, “The Hunchbacked Woman”, which was re-issued in 1980.

So, no pear tree outside the game store.

Comments

  1. #1 Birger Johansson
    January 16, 2012

    Regarding odd names, and (almost) gaming, if geocaching counts:
    “Swedish Bondage Fairies launch high-tech global treasure hunt” http://www.thelocal.se/38468/20120112/
    — — — — — —
    (OT) Weird tales “Police consult psychic to find missing 82-year-old” http://www.thelocal.se/38442/20120111/
    Cue for vague directions. Like “she is somewhere associated with a pear tree…or not”. I see the bat signal of skeptics flashing!

  2. #2 Martin R
    January 16, 2012

    A favourite weird place name is the Snake Salter block near Slussen in one of the older parts of Stockholm’s southern precinct. It got its name from one of the alleyways that define it, and the alleyway got its name from German immigrant Alexander Ormesälter who owned a property there in the later 17th century.

  3. #3 Birger Johansson
    January 16, 2012

    The ambiguity of language, and the shifting meanings of words is a great souce for humour in place-names, as well as other things. Ask a historian about the (foul-tasting?) “Diet of Worms”.

    In north Sweden we have places like “Kräkångersnoret”. Kräk=old word for animal/livestock. Ånger & nor are geographical descriptions of landforms. Yet in modern Swedish, kräk = vomit, and snor = the yellow gunk that flood your nose when you have a cold.

  4. #4 Martin R
    January 16, 2012

    It’s even worse than that. The place name looks like it would mean “The Snot of Vomit Regret”.

  5. #5 Birger Johansson
    January 16, 2012

    (Slightly OT) Any suggestions for a confusingly descriptive name for this field?
    “Snailmail Patch”? “Storm-From-Oz-Brings-Love-of-Long-Dead-People (Not Zombies)” ?

    “150-year-old love letter found in Swedish field” http://www.thelocal.se/38492/20120113/
    The English-language letter was not actually buried in the soil, but apparently blown into the field by the storm “Emil”. I will now sit down in that spot and wait for a specimen of the Treskilling Banco to land.
    “Treskilling Yellow” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treskilling_Yellow

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