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February 17, 2007 10:42 PM   Subscribe

"Adanac" is "Canada" spelled backwards, and it's an exceedingly common name for businesses, streets and so forth in Canada. Is this common in any other country?

I'd also appreciate if anyone had any etyomolgical insights on this phenomenon. Did someone decide, way back, that this was clever and then it spread? Is it a coincidence, and the word has a different origin than merely being "Canada" spelled backwards?
posted by solid-one-love to Writing & Language (43 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I see a lot of Nacirema dumpsters.
posted by bastionofsanity at 10:54 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I could see this as a way for businesses to get their names into the upper echelons of the phonebook / Yellow Pages due to the alphabetical advantages.
posted by ThinkNut at 10:59 PM on February 17, 2007


bastionofsanity beat me to the Nacirema dumpsters while I was locating my snapshot of one of them.

In Seattle's Ballard neighborhood we have the Majestic Bay Theater, owned by Elttaes Theaters LLC.
posted by reeddavid at 11:15 PM on February 17, 2007


I see a lot of G√°szsroraygam stuff in Hungary. Just joking. But I have seen a company in Japan with "Napaj" and a restaurant in India with "Aidni," which is odd since neither of those countries uses our alphabet as the primary vehicle for expression. Most countries don't have names which lend themselves to this sort of backwards expression, though some cities do. But watch out, Tulsa!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:26 PM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Negatively, there no business like that here in New Zealand (surprise!). More interestingly, Ailartsua is fairly pronounceable, but I could only find one business (and it was called Lartsua).

There are quite a few variants on Enz-* in local business names, however.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:29 PM on February 17, 2007


I think Canada is blessed to have a name that really rolls off the tongue when read backwards. Nacirema? Four syllables? Please. Adanac? East Vancouverites have it down to an art - "Adn-ack". Rhymes with Aflac.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:42 PM on February 17, 2007


i think 'adanac' is an example of verlan, a french language practice... slang.
posted by de at 11:52 PM on February 17, 2007


Not really, because verlan like Pig Latin reverses syllables, not spelling. It's much more like srehctub klat.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:55 PM on February 17, 2007


i still think 'adanac' is the verlan of 'canada'. in the simplest cases it is a mere word reversal and there are no hard and fast rules... but not to lose any sleep.
posted by de at 12:05 AM on February 18, 2007


in Nebraska, there's a bank group called "Aksarben"

not a "country", but still a large geographical area!
posted by quadrinary at 12:11 AM on February 18, 2007


there's a record company in kansas called sasnak, a road in Florida called adirolf. There's a horse racing place in Nebraska called Aksarben, and another called atokad. About a billion things called Anozira.

(and a myspace profile for every backwards state in the country)
posted by muddylemon at 2:13 AM on February 18, 2007


What's hilarious is that I never heard of a company or anything called Adanac. At least not in Toronto.
posted by antifuse at 2:50 AM on February 18, 2007


Not a place, but Oprah's production company is named "Harpo." Also, the evil doll in Bret Easton Ellis' book "Lunar Park" is called the Terby, which is "(Wh)Y Bret"? backwards.
posted by The Michael The at 5:29 AM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Retlifatem
posted by Xurando at 5:56 AM on February 18, 2007


Houston has a seedy downtown coffee shop called, "Notsuoh". That was also the name of a city parade from the early 1900's.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:27 AM on February 18, 2007


In Parma, OH (a suburb of Cleveland), there is an Amrap Dr., and also an Amrap Cafe. (Interestingly, Amrap Dr. is parallel to Layor Dr, which is 2 streets away from Royal Pkwy.)
posted by ferociouskitty at 6:42 AM on February 18, 2007


Horse racing facility in Omaha called Aksarben.
posted by CCK at 7:34 AM on February 18, 2007


Aksarben has been closed for years, but, yes. There is a Mardi Gras krewe-style secret society of wealthy gentlemen that is still around that calls itself the Knights of the Ak-sar-ben.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:38 AM on February 18, 2007


You might be amused be this little article about Pekin/Nikep.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:41 AM on February 18, 2007


Slightly related: there is a Tunlaw Road in Washington, DC which used to be Walnut Road. When the British were invading in 1812 many DC street names were reversed to confuse the invaders but still be recognizable to the locals; this one stuck.
posted by pithy comment at 7:49 AM on February 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, how could I forget! The fabled Nacirema people from anthropological literature!
posted by The Michael The at 7:53 AM on February 18, 2007


Interesting note on the Nebraska/Aksarben business.... I personally first heard about it in my railfan days because the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad's Nebraska Zephyr was renamed the Ak-Sar-Ben Zephyr on the return trip, printed on the timetable as such, as well. This was from perhaps the 1940's, and was the earliest I had heard of it.
posted by pjern at 8:01 AM on February 18, 2007


The Calgary Flames have a farm team called the Omaha Ak Sar Ben knights.
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 8:43 AM on February 18, 2007


unrelated to place names, but i went to high school with several girls whose names were inversions of their mothers' names: i specifically remember airam/maria and aleida/adiela, but i think there may have been others.
posted by wreckingball at 8:44 AM on February 18, 2007


What's hilarious is that I never heard of a company or anything called Adanac. At least not in Toronto.

Don't get out much?
posted by solid-one-love at 9:25 AM on February 18, 2007


Erewhon. Besides the book, it's also a natural foods store in L.A. and a mountain outfitters (who actually spell it Erehwon).
posted by scody at 9:27 AM on February 18, 2007


My father-in-law has a wooden crate that was made for transporting bottles of Adanac Dry, which was supposedly a sly name a local rum-runner used for his particular tipple.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 9:37 AM on February 18, 2007


Cazna is a semi common name for gardens and parks, and unfortunate people born on ANZAC day.
posted by scodger at 10:23 AM on February 18, 2007


Not a place, but there is a hotel in the catskills called the Nevele. I believe the founder had 11 children, or perhaps grandchildren. Somehting like that.
posted by oflinkey at 11:03 AM on February 18, 2007


I'm pretty sure that de has it. Because of Canada's French heritage, the backwards-slang of verlan would make the most sense, and help to indicate why it's so rare for other countries to use the reverse of their country name as a placename. There are a boatload of Adanac placenames in Quebec, even moreso than elsewhere in Canada.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:57 AM on February 18, 2007


Curiously, just like they used to race horses at AKSARBEN here in "Nebraska" ... they also race at "ATOKAD" in Sioux City. I'm sure there's a reason they reversed "Dakota", but I have no clue. Probably sounded better that AWOI or SASNAK.
posted by RavinDave at 11:59 AM on February 18, 2007


"I'm pretty sure that de has it. Because of Canada's French heritage, the backwards-slang of verlan would make the most sense, and help to indicate why it's so rare for other countries to use the reverse of their country name as a placename. There are a boatload of Adanac placenames in Quebec, even moreso than elsewhere in Canada."

Except that verlan is relatively recent, and there's no real evidence to imply that the slang would be transmitted from France to Canada like that. Or, I think you're coining a charming folk etymology on your own there.
posted by klangklangston at 12:22 PM on February 18, 2007


Except that verlan is relatively recent

Gained in popularity recently, but as a form of wordplay, dates back to the mid-18th-century.

and there's no real evidence to imply that the slang would be transmitted from France to Canada like that

Yes, it's the one thing that never made it across from France. Right.

Grind your axe somewhere else, please.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2007


I feel like this ought to be a list on Wikipedia
posted by magikker at 1:10 PM on February 18, 2007


Life long Saskatchewan resident here, can't think of any Adanac instiutions but it does sound nice.
posted by Deep Dish at 1:19 PM on February 18, 2007


In Corpus Christi there is a Saxet shopping center. Also, I've heard of three baby girls named "Neveah" recently.
posted by BluGnu at 6:12 PM on February 18, 2007


googley maps says my search for yesrej did not match any locations. I am sorely disappointerated.

and yesrej.com seems to be available. dis state got no edirp!
posted by hexatron at 7:31 PM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't get out much?

Which of those companies are you saying he should have heard of before? They're not exactly high profile.
posted by winston at 10:11 PM on February 18, 2007


High profile? No, but common enough that I would expect anyone who goes about a normal routine to see a sign or awning at least once in his or her travels in his or her lifetime. 2700-block Dufferin isn't exactly the boondocks. Hell, I've been down that stretch and I've been to T.O. twice.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:33 PM on February 18, 2007


I've probably been up and down that stretch of Dufferin 30 times, and I've never seen Adanac Glass. But then, if it's one of those shops in the shitty strip malls along there, I'm not overly surprised. As for the rest of them, other than the one on Sheppard (and to be honest with you, I don't think I've ever been down that stretch of Sheppard... Why would I, with the 401 right there?), they're all tucked away into little never-heard-of-them before streets. So it's hardly the kind of thing that would lead one to say "Hey, what's up with all these Toronto businesses named Adanac?". I'm not saying it's not the case elsewhere, but at least in Toronto it's pretty easy to miss the phenomenon.
posted by antifuse at 5:31 AM on February 19, 2007


I don't recognize any of the Toronto-based Adanac companies either, but I have to admit the fact that one of them is a mirror and glass company makes me happy.
posted by flipper at 8:04 AM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wanigas, Federal Credit Union.
In Saginaw, Michigan (of course)

Surprisingly, Wanicam doesn't appear on Google.

While searching for Neprewtna (Antwerpen), I get Google hits where the title and text are backwards. Oddly, the site is .de not .be
posted by Goofyy at 9:19 AM on February 19, 2007


Surprisingly, Wanicam doesn't appear on Google.

That's probably because Macinaw is usually spelled "Mackinac" (although sometimes "Mackinaw"). The pesky "ck" doesn't really lend itself to subtle gnitirw drawkcab.
posted by kindall at 1:00 PM on February 19, 2007


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