Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo mentioned the grinding dullness of the drive down I-95 south of DeeCee in the post below. This is due in large part to the fact that there are few natural landmarks or other geographical phenomena to break it up: The landscape simply turns from endless gentle hills to endless low country swamp to endless sandbar. The trees simply turn from endless slash pine to endless palmetto and orange groves.
One of the very few exceptions to this monotony is Lake Marion, which one crosses about midway through South Carolina. (Historickally-minded friends of the decanter will know that it is named after Francis Marion, the Revolutionary War hero known as the “Swamp Fox” for his guerrilla operations in those parts. They will also know that Marion was the basis for about half of Mel Gibson’s character in the ridiculously inaccurate movie “The Patriot”, the other half being filched from the life of Daniel Morgan.)
Anyhoo, as we crossed over said lake, a thought wandered into ol’ Robbo’s braim: With respect to just about* every other kind of body of water, in American English we always put the proper name first: The Atlantic Ocean; San Francisco Bay; Pearl Harbor; the Mississippi River; Walden Pond; Cedar Creek; Bob’s Run, etc.. However, with lakes we do just the opposite: Lake Michigan; Lake Marion; Lake Wazzapamani; Lake O’ The Woods, etc.**
Why is this?
I suppose it probably has something to do with early French exploration in North America, with their convention of naming such bodies of water Lac Such-and-Such. But if this is the case, why didn’t this juxtaposition also carry over to rivers, creaks, and the like?
(No, ol’ Robbo wasn’t going road happy. I really find this sort of thing quite fascinating. Apparently nobody else in the family does, however: When I floated the question in the car it was met with silence.)
* I’ll give you “bayou” (as in Bayou Lafourche). “Gulf” (as in Gulf of Mexico or Gulf of Maine) also seems to be an exception, but it’s curious that the name always seems to include that “of”. And don’t we say “Leyte Gulf”? Okay, maybe “bight” (as in “Bight of Benin”), too, but then again there’s a Bigelow Bight in Maine.
** I specify American English because the Brits seem to name their lakes the other way ’round.
UPDATE: Yes, I should have put in a general caveat about exceptions to the rule. I knew that even as I hit the “post” button. I also knew that some smart guy would come in and call me out if I didn’t. Centuwion! Thwow this man to the gwound! (The welease Wodger…)