I heard someone talking on RNZ yesterday (I don’t know who it was, that doesn’t matter for now) who said that the names of some places need no description. In fact the are difficult to describe with works adequately, given a loss to the All Blacks can be described as shock, disaster, catastrophe, crisis.
He said this in particular applied to places associated with the First World War, like:
- The Somme
Those of us who have been around for a while and know history reasonably well may forget some of the details but those names mean a lot more to us than a single word.
The same can also apply to the Second World War:
And even to Vietnam:
- My Lai
Also to some people’s names (or even initials):
- Pol Pot
There are big stories around all of these words, but we don’t need them explained or described in detail to understand the enormity of what they represent.
And there are words used for things that also mean a lot without any explanation needed, like Holocaust, Cultural Revolution, McCarthyism.
Single words can mean much more than a small bunch of hieroglyphs can portray.