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The theory on animal and street names


One often wonders greatly at the particular names of certain things. Why is a shovel called "a shovel", and why must porridge be called "porridge"? It is rarely possible to find a satisfying explanation, but when it comes to stupid animal and street names, one can nevertheless find out the likely causes. 

Especially within the animal kingdom there are so many ridiculous names, like "beaver", "halibut", "gannet", and "crocodile", that one starts to wonder who on Earth is responsible for all that rubbish. If The Bible is to believed (Gen. 2. 19-20), Adam got the task of devising names for all the animals that God had created. And that doesn't seem like an old cock-and-bull story, like so much else in The Bible. When looking at the animal names it is evident that some low-ranking employee was responsible, and that Adam didn't always carry out his assignment with unreserved enthusiasm.

However, at first Adam was presumably awfully thrilled about his new and exciting job. His eagerness and ardour is witnessed by imaginative and well-sounding animal names, like "eagle", "cobra", "panther", and "wolf". But apparently this artistry and creativity withered away as the weeks went by and Adam still had unbelievably many animals to name. God had obviously had a splendid day when he created the animals, and had simply made heaps of them (it is not until this century that we have started to overcome that problem).

Gradually Adam became more and more tired of his endless chore, and rarely exerted himself to make up anything else than boring, descriptive names. Thus a flat kind of fish was called "a flatfish", an animal that eats ants was labelled "an anteater", a dog that lives on the prairie was christened "a prairie dog", and a monkey that howls was named "a howling monkey".

But Adam's work performance deteriorated even further. Eventually he got so infinitely sick and tired of his job, that he began to invent downright silly and bizarre names, like "flamingo", "orang-utan", "anchovy", and "gnu". And one understands him; with all the animals, that God had created, Adam really didn't have an easy time.

One can easily conceive how Adam must have felt when he got up in the morning and went to work, and saw the still endless line of animals waiting to be named. One can clearly imagine how he despairingly cried "next!", stared indifferently at the animal in front of him, and disgruntledly said: "You're an avocet! Yup, that's exactly what you are! Now scram, you lousy little varmint!" After collecting himself a bit, Adam went on with his intolerable task: "Next! Shit, another rodent! You're a... well, search me... a hamster. Hee, hee, yes, wonderfully hideous name. Say thank you, and piss off!" 

Precisely the same kind of fatigue and doltish indolence have probably set in among those of Copenhagen's city planners, who make up street names. Hence there are only few good and original street names, such as "Lavender Alley", "Noble Street", and "Rosy Road". The vast majority of street names are of the boring and descriptive sort, such as "Eastwall Street" (where the eastern wall once was), "Coalmonger Square" (where coal was once sold), "Stock Exchange Street" (where the old stock exchange is), and "Harbour Road" (which most surprisingly runs along the harbour). The remaining street names are also pretty unimaginative, and are merely made by naming the street after a prominent person ("Hans Christian Andersen's Boulevard), or a completely random place ("Oslo Square").

One may therefore fear that the city planners will soon run out of places and persons to name streets after, and also that they become so immensely tired of their work, that they reach the bitter and silly phase, just like Adam did. And the city planners have vastly extensive opportunities to make up highly peculiar street names, e.g. by naming streets after foods: "Pork Roast Road", "Cucumber Salad Street", "Chicken Soup Boulevard", and "Fried Plaice Fillet With Béarnaise Sauce Avenue". Or perhaps by naming streets after concepts: "Nastiness Street", "Unreasonable Alley", "Frisky Road", or activities: "Scrape Street", "Tickle Road", "Cunnilingus Avenue", or perhaps onomatopoetic words: "Plop Street", "Splash Alley", "Ping Road", and "Boom Street".

If we do not take action, Copenhagen's street names can get excessively bad. In the end it might happen that the city planners give up completely, and just name streets after old streets: "Oslo Square Road" and "Noble Street Alley", or even name streets after streets named after other streets etc.: "Hans Christian Andersen's Boulevard Street Road", or just "Eastwall Street Street Street Street Street Street".

Fortunately this never happened with the animal names; we are lucky that God found an excuse to sack Adam before he got irreparably stuck in his job, and sent him packing after he and his girlfriend had swiped an apple. If that had not happened, we could have animals called "blackbirdmonkeyfish", "bumblebeeratlizardsnail", or just "rabbitdogdogdogdog".

It must not come to that with our street names. So remember at the next municipal election to vote for a party, which promises to lay off all Copenhagen city planners involved in street naming. Sometimes one must regrettably be a little hard on those employees who are hopelessly bogged down in their job.

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