If you happen to live in the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan or Truth or Consequences, New Mexico — you are fully aware of the annoyance of having to write out these really long city names. But these names with about 20 letters are merely child’s play when you consider the longest place names in the world that have more than twice that number.
So what is the longest place name in the world? That distinction goes to a hill located near the tiny township of Porangahau, New Zealand: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu — containing 85 letters! Imagine filling out an address form online. Translated from Maori, an Eastern Polynesian language (it originated as early as 1280), into English it means: “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.” How romantic. Understandably, this mouthful of a name is often shortened to a name with only seven letters: Taumata. So how do you pronounce the township’s long name? Take a deep breath; here we go: “Toe-mah-tah-fah-kah-tah-ngi-hah-nga-kaw-oh-oh-aw-ta-ma-te-a-too-ri-poo-ka-ka-pee-kee-mow-nga-haw-raw-noo-koo-paw-kai-feh-noo-ah-kee-tah-nah-tah-hoo.”
The second longest place name in the world belongs to a small town (population: 3,107) located in in the Isle of Anglesey, Wales, United Kingdom: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch — containing 58 letters. Try fitting that address on a business card. Translated from the Welsh into English it means: “Saint Mary’s Church in a hollow of white hazel near the rapid whirlpool of the church of Saint Tysilio with a red cave.” How religious. For practical reasons, the locals have shortened the long name to Llanfairpwll or Llanfair PG. The 58-letter name is a real challenge to pronounce; but if you want to give it a shot, here is the official pronunciation: “Lan-vire-pool-guin-gil-go-get-u-queern-drop-ool-lan-dus-ilio-go-go-goke.” The name was initially coined by a resident (a tailor, by trade) in 1869 as a publicity stunt so that the town would have the longest name of any British railway station. Clearly, he succeeded and much to his surprise, the name stuck.
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