Russia: The Name's the Shame

It all began when the citizens of Starving Alive protested that they weren't. "Why should a thriving kolkhoz [communal] village bear such a degrading name," demanded the local paper, "especially on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution? Such names are references to a past that has been overcome. And there are far too many of them."

Indeed there were: some 320 towns in Byelorussia alone bore names like Roofless, Slobsville and Dirt; Abscess, Deviltry and Grief.* There was a place called Snout, and another called Corn-on-the-Foot. In the Pinsk district, such villages as Breadless, Emaciation, The...

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