I’m looking for a good, colloquial translation of this North Carolina coastal town’s name. Although originally spelled “Nag’s Head,” over the years the apostrophe has been dropped. Thanks!
IIRC, U.S. locations and street names are not supposed to have apostrophes. Anyone know if this is true?
Not simply tete du canasson?
I’d translate it as “Nags Head”. What’s the English name for a French town like “les Sables d’Olonne”? Surely in English it is “les Sables d’Olonne”, even if you might translate “les sables” as “sands”.
From what I’ve heard, the origin of the name is not for certain. So while it’s plausible that the word “nag” has some equine connotation, it’s not proven. Also, it’s also likely that even if the word does relate to horses, there’s not a one-word equivalent, since “nag” has some further (negative) connotations relating to the condition. Also the word “head,” that might refer to the physical part of the horse (if “nag” is a horse), but “head” also refers to a “projection point of a coast” (as in Hilton Head), so that might be a different French word entirely.
On preview, I’d say Giles has the best idea.
Canasson seems to have the right pejorative meaning for “nag” in the equine sense.
If you must translate the geographic name I’d suggest Cap de Canasson.
I think Giles has it right - just use the name as it is. For all we know, it got that name because backin the colonial days, that head of land was owned by someone named Nagg, and the name got mangled a bit.
The traditional explanation is that Outer Banks folks in the 17th-18th century (a rough lot) would walk a broken-down horse along the sand dunes at night or in the fog, a lantern hanging from its neck, so that ships at sea would see it and think there was a safe anchorage there. They’d come closer, run aground, and the Outer Bankers would then gleefully pillage the shipwreck. (Theodosia Burr, Aaron’s daughter, supposedly met her end this way).
Earl’s right, though - no one knows the origin of the name with any certainty.