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1500 California Place Names: Their Origin and Meaning, A Revised version of 1000 California Place Names by Erwin G. Gudde, Third edition Paperback – Abridged, November 30, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The definitive guide to the etymology of California's geographical names . . . updates the state's poetic vocabulary and gives compelling proof that place names are not the fixed road-map landmarks that so many assume them to be."--"Santa Cruz Sentinel

From the Back Cover

This book traces the origins of place names such as California, named after the mythical black queen Califia, and the town of Peanut, named by a postmaster who was fond of this snack. From the exotic to the prosaic, from border to border, from A to Z, 1500 California Place Names explores the heritage of the Indians, explorers, missionaries, settlers, and surveyors who took part in naming the state's cities, rivers, lakes, peaks, valleys, and other geographical features. This revised, expanded handbook includes the names of the major Indian tribes of California, many of them directly or indirectly the source of place names. William Bright incorporates his own recent research and that of other linguists and local historians to give us a deeper appreciation of the tangled ancestry of many California names. Featuring phonetic pronunciations for tongue-twisting locales, this compact guide should accompany anyone who travels the highways, trails, or waterways of the Golden State.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Fourth Edition edition (November 30, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520212711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520212718
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is not for the serious researcher, but is tremendously interesting for those curious about the sometimes zany history of California's place names. Most entries include an interesting tangle of history and culture and the usual mispronunciation of Native American names by early white settlers. Its a fun book that would make a great stocking stuffer and should brought along on any California road trip. Two thumbs on this one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book as well as the book on NM place names, "The Place Names of New Mexico" by Robert Julyan, and they arrived same day. If you want to see what a great book on place names looks like, get the NM place name book above. The CA place names book is tiny in physical size and has 170 pages. Compare with the NM book which is massive and has 385 pages. The reviews in the CA book are tiny...most are three lines that tell how the town got its name with little passion. The NM book has large reviews on most town and place names, 6 to 12 lines that are told with some passion and interest. Take an example from the CA book for the town name Dulzura- Spanish for sweetness, from dulce "sweet". that's it! Not much passion or interest in the descriptions!
One would think with the physical size of California, compared to the smaller physical size of New Mexico that California would have made a better showing. I noticed many CA towns were NOT included in the book, French Gulch being one.
Save your money on this one folks.
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Format: Paperback
I am using this book as a source of information for some railroad travel guides I am putting together, and it is very helpful, in that it is not merely a "list of place names," like so many other similar books I have seen are. This book actually has historical information and useful material which I can incorporate into my guides, which will make train travel passing through the places listed in the book much more enjoyable and interesting. It is an excellent resource!!!
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Format: Paperback
I believe every Californian should own a copy of this book, and read it through. By its title, this may seem to be light reading to entertain oneself with trivia, but it’s a substantial work in etymology put out by the University of California Press. It contains the kernels of stories about place names we use every day, usually without knowing why, such as Alhambra, Antelope Valley, Azusa, Beverly Hills, Daly City, Castaic, the Golden Gate, La Tijera, Los Angeles, Ojai, Pasadena, Tijuana, Temescal Canyon and countless others. Because it is compact, this is indeed the sort of book one can digest a page at a time, here and there. After reading it all, the 1,500 etymologies come together like a jigsaw puzzle to give a much more complete picture of what the state has been like at different times, and how it got to be what it is today. The entries point toward a more detailed look at whatever happens to catch your fancy. Many times the origins of a name come as a surprise, and other times an entry dispels a common myth or supposition about how a particular place name came to be.
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1500 California Place Names: Their Origin and Meaning, A Revised version of 1000 California Place Names by Erwin G. Gudde, Third edition
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