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What's in a name?

What's in a name?

There are thousands of Bar Manolos and countless Casa Pacos and Casa Pepes, none of which, unlike in the UK, have had to change their names for reasons of political or religious correctness

Andrew J. Linn

Friday, 18 August 2023, 16:48

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In Spain most bars and restaurants are named after their owners or some similar reference. There are thousands of Bar Manolos and countless Casa Pacos and Casa Pepes, none of which, unlike in the UK, have had to change their names for reasons of political or religious correctness. There is no record of a Spanish hostelry having to be rechristened because someone objected to its original designation, and in the unlikely event some thoughtless bar owner had ever baptised his premises with a name like El Moro Flojo ('The Lazy Moor'), it would not have lasted very long. Anyway, every drinking Brit knows that the multiple Elephant and Castle pubs scattered around the national geography are known by a title that is a bastardisation of 'Isabella de Castilla' – unpronounceable for the average English speaker.

The Black Bitch Tavern in Linlithgow, West Lothian, was named after a champion greyhound 700 years ago. Owners Greene King, for obvious reasons, have announced it will henceforth be known as The Willow Tree. The planning authorities and Historic Environment Scotland were consulted and raised no objection; it's the drinking public that is up in arms. A petition against the name change got more than 11,000 signatures, not bad considering that Linlithgow has only 13,000 residents. The Civic Trust insisted there was nothing racist about the pub's current name, and former leader of the SNP Alex Salmond spoke out about the proposed name change last year: "Whoever they consulted on this silliness wasn't local. The name Black Bitch is borne with pride as showing respect for our rich history."

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