There’s many a place in this crazy world of ours that got its English language name as a result of cultural or linguistic misunderstandings. The village that now glories in the English name of ‘goat dropping’, or the mountain whose name translates to ‘your finger you fool’ spring to mind. Others come later, when people forget the linguistic origins of a name, and use it as an English word (which is why the fully translated name of baseball’s ‘The Los Angeles Angels’ is ‘The The Angels Angels’). And still others come to pass when someone misunderstands an accent.
There has never been a more accent-misunderstanding-ing class of people than the upper class Victorian English gentleman, a species of man who regarded it as a duty to Queen, God and Country to fail to understand the accents of all those of a lower social class – which was anyone outside their own social class, anyone foreign and of course, anyone female (except the Queen). One such gentleman (and it should be understood that in his particular case, the term ‘gentleman’ is an almost entirely nominal one), a yachtsman and doctor named Beaufort Montgomery III, landed near the extremity of the Mornington Peninsula one fine morning in 1886, and was astonished to find that working class people already lived there, and claimed the property that he had imagined would be his for the disposal.
History does not record Montgomery’s response to being told he would have to pay to tie up at the dock by the descendents of the hearty Scots and Cockneys who had first settled the region, but one has to wonder what he expected. It’s a rental, innit?
Suburbs near Sorrento: