Six silent swans soared silently southward
Saw Scandinavia’s statuesque Stockholm
Solid Stavanger, salt-swept Sandefjord
Swooped still, scanning Stuttgart
Spotted stunning Seoul, suspenseful Shanghai
Staring Singaporeans saw sublime shadows slide
Saint-seeking spirits circled splendid São Paulo
Sublime San Francisco saw swans sailing south.
The first line of this tongue-twister will, no doubt, be familiar to some of you. It was always good for a laugh when we ran out of feeble jokes in primary school. Other memorable ones included:
“She sells sea shells on the sea shore”
“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”,
“Red lorry, yellow lorry”,
“I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s son”,
For maximum effect, you need to get up on your desk and repeat them as often as possible, out loud, at high speed. Feel free to capture your attempts on video, and please don’t forget to post a link below.
Moving on to more serious matters: here’s an overview of the origin of the names of KLM destinations starting with S, illustrated with random album covers, including the eighteen-track miracle that is Flying Saucers by the one and only “Rawking” Sandy Ford.
San Francisco: Also known as Frisco, the City by the Bay and the Paris of the West, this city on the U.S. West Coast was named after Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals.
Sandefjord: This Norwegian town developed alongside a fjord in the former municipality of Sandar. The town’s name originally belonged to the fjord, which is now called Sandefjordsfjord. (This surprising snippet of information, in combination with Sandy “Slickback” Ford, is why I love writing this blog.)
Seoul: The South Korean capital gets its name from the Korean words for “capital city”. Which makes me wonder whether the term is used in reference to all capitals, and what consequences this has for children taking geography tests.
Shanghai: The two Mandarin characters that make up the name of this Chinese port literally mean “up, on, or above” and “sea”.
Singapore: This city-state gets its name from the Malay word “Singapura”, meaning “Lion City”.
Stavanger: This Norwegian town gets its name from the Norse word “Stafangr”. The first part, “stafr”, meaning “stick/staff shape”, is possibly a reference to nearby Mount Valberget. The second part derives from “angr”, meaning “fjord” or “inlet of land”.
Stockholm: The Swedish capital’s name is testimony to its original role as a stronghold (stockade!), with “stock” meaning “log” or “fortification”, and “holm” meaning “islet”.
Stuttgart: This German city takes its name from the Old High German “stuotgarten”, meaning “stud garden”, which is apt considering that Mercedes-Benz has been creating horsepower in the city since 1885.
So, sadly, sturdy scribe says: “So-long, sweet sightseer!” Please don’t forget to post a link to the video of you attempting the tongue-twisters above. Just don’t let Miss Brown catch you, pheasant pluckers, because you’ll be in detention for a month.