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The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

The back of beyond

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
#1
on another thread I saw mention of being in the “boonies”, a word I am unfamiliar with, but was instantly understandable. This got me thinking....how do others describe being in the middle of nowhere/ the back of beyond/ the wop-wops (or even just out in the wops - or the sticks, for that matter)?
Then I thought some more (it’s a very cerebrally active day)....are there regional variations? Which is really a rhetorical question (I have a linguistics major so I do know the answer is yes! Perhaps the question should be: can we identify some usages based on location?)
Then I had one more thought: how do people express this concept in other languages?
So if you’d like to chime in, would you mind giving your phrase (or its equivalent in English) and your location.....
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#2
on another thread I saw mention of being in the “boonies”, a word I am unfamiliar with, but was instantly understandable. This got me thinking....how do others describe being in the middle of nowhere/ the back of beyond/ the wop-wops (or even just out in the wops - or the sticks, for that matter)?
Then I thought some more (it’s a very cerebrally active day)....are there regional variations? Which is really a rhetorical question (I have a linguistics major so I do know the answer is yes! Perhaps the question should be: can we identify some usages based on location?)
Then I had one more thought: how do people express this concept in other languages?
So if you’d like to chime in, would you mind giving your phrase (or its equivalent in English) and your location.....
Ah love this.
We have an expression here in some provinces ( also in some Dutch provinces close to the border ).
" Daar is onze Lieve Heer zelfs niet geweest " meaning " Our Sweet Lord wasn't even there " meaning the place or village is really small or in the middle of nowhere. Must admit that the English descriptions are nicer...:D
 
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Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#3
Nice challenge, but a hard one for a Dutchie. In a country the size of a postage stamp, it is difficult to end up in the sticks. That might be the reason there isn't really a one-on-one translation of 'in the middle of nowhere' in Dutch. You can phrase it literal as 'in het midden van nergens' and everybody will know what you mean, but it isn't common to use it like that.

We do however have expressions like 'in niemandsland', which literally translates as 'in no man's land', i.e. uninhabited land. Or 'van god en iedereen verlaten', which is best described as godforsaken, or left by god and everyone else. But we do have a good synonym for 'the sticks' in Holland, because of our colonial past. Rimboe, a word that originated from the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) word 'remboe' (which in turn comes from the Malaysian 'rimba'), meaning wilderness or jungle.

The most common expression that springs to mind though is one of derision. For some people in the Netherlands there is a very clear line between city-folk and those not living in a (big) city. Everybody in Amsterdam and the surrounding big cities (Rotterdam, Den Haag and Utrecht) lives in the Randstad as they call it, an agglomeration. Everybody else is therefore a 'provinciaal' or lives in 'de provincie', meaning provincial and province. You're basically a hick if you live there, is what they are trying to say. Snobsters...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#5
I believe "the boonies" is short for "the Boondocks," a Tagalog term for "jungle" that American soldiers brought back with them from the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century.
In Western Pennsylvania USA (where my family is from), rural towns are affectionately called "East Armpit" or "Lower Bum---k," and coal-company towns are called "coal patches." My uncle lived in Baggeley Patch, "a pithole out the back end of nothin´ at all." My husband is English, he calls the backwoods "the blasted heath," or the "howling wilderness," or "the rugged Arctic tundra," depending on specifics.
We live in Moratinos, a town of 22 souls in the middle of the Meseta. We are often asked how we came to live "in the middle of nowhere."
We shake our heads and tell them No. We live in the middle of Everywhere.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, De Soulac, Norte, Madrid-Salv-Primitivo
#11
Hi
In South Africa (at least in my area – the far east) you’re in the “bundu” if you are in the back of beyond.

If you go off-trail while hiking, we call it “bundu bashing”.

It doesn’t come from any of our eleven official languages (Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Si-Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda), but from Shona, which is a Zimbabwean language.
Jill
 
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2017: Home(Germany) to SdC via Cologne-Taizé-Le Puy-Somport-Camino Aragones-Camino Frances
#14
Well, in German we also have e.g. a village situated "in der Pampa", referring to the huge flat areas in Argentina. Don't ask me how Argentinan geography came into this german saying...
A more colloquial description of a remote place and not really polite is "am Arsch der Welt" which is common among youngsters. Living "in der Walachei" is another way of expressing the same thing, the Walachei being a landscape in Romania.
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#15
Well, in German we also have e.g. a village situated "in der Pampa", referring to the huge flat areas in Argentina. Don't ask me how Argentinan geography came into this german saying...
A more colloquial description of a remote place and not really polite is "am Arsch der Welt" which is common among youngsters. Living "in der Walachei" is another way of expressing the same thing, the Walachei being a landscape in Romania.
I've also heard 'irgendwo im nirgendwo' in German, used as a description for the middle of nowhere.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2018
#17
I believe "the boonies" is short for "the Boondocks," a Tagalog term for "jungle" that American soldiers brought back with them from the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century.
Yup. Boondocks came from "bundok" which literally means "mountain" in Tagalog*. Boonies for "jungle" may have come from our mountains being usually jungle, especially at that time.

If one lives on a mountain, we usually say, "Wow! only 10 centavos** more jeepney fare and you're in heaven.

* It is called many other names in the 175 (more or less) languages and dialects.
** $1 = ₱50 , 1 ₱eso = 100 centavos
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte to Primitivo
#20
I believe that Charles Dickens described Peterborough as the back door to nowhere -- but I haven't been able to confirm this with Google. I like this description of any place that is small and dull: It's not the End of the World -- but you can see it from there.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#21
In Western Pennsylvania USA (where my family is from), rural towns are affectionately called "East Armpit" or "Lower Bum---k,"
When I was in the service there were a number of remote locations in which certain specialties could be assigned, so bad an assignment to one would qualify you for early release from your enlistment. The name Bum---k, Egypt came up often when these were discussed.

I use "the boonies" and, for small towns, East Cupcake and Podunk. Sometimes also the real place in Australia, Humpty Doo. Bigger than it sounds but it sounds great.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#22
I think I inadvertently started this thread in an unrelated discussion of cell / mobile phones. I referred to cellular service "out in the boonies..."

That said, I really liked this thread. I can relate to all the descriptions. Anyone who grew up in a very small town or remotely populated area understands.

Also, I like learning something new each day. Today "bundok" as the origin of "boondocks" or "boonies" brought a smile to my cherub face.

Another use of the term "boondocks" is to refer to the ankle-high, rough duty boots US Marines wear. They were historically referred to as "boondockers," at least since World War II. I can easily see that term emerging from the Philippines and / or Australia...the land "down under..."

Thank you all, for that.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#23
I'm from the midwest USA and the only ones I've heard used in our area (that I can remember:rolleyes:, are... "out in the middle of nowhere"; "in the boonies"; "out in left field"; "waaay out"; and "podunk" which is a reference used to describe small rural towns located waaay out in the middle of nowhere.;)
 

caminka

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
#25
here in slovenia, we use the term ''bogu za ritjo'' which literally means ''behind god's buttocks'' and that may refer to many remote places, e.g. hidden in some steep side valley of a side valley of a bigger valley of one of our many forested hills and mountains. ''sredi ničesar'', meaning ''in the middle of nowhere'', is a more polite term. sometimes you can hear ''v eni levi vasi'', ''in a left village'', which means in an unimportant village somewhere.
another term is ''kar nekje'', literally ''just somewhere''.

not many funny terms here, huh.
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#27
Aussies (...) having so much variety of "interesting" terms
Too right! Imagine the equal parts joy and bewilderment I felt when I first heard what a mini tornado is called, in the bush in Western Australia: "Oh, that's just a Willy Willy mate, no worries."
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - April-June, 2016
Portuguese Lisbon-Santiago - October, 2017
#28
and "podunk" which is a reference used to describe small rural towns located waaay out in the middle of nowhere.;)
I'm originally from Pennsylvania and say, that someone is from "Podunk, Iowa" - no offense to Iowans (Iowinians?). My Texas husband would say "out in the sticks" or "Hicksville."
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#29
I'm originally from Pennsylvania and say, that someone is from "Podunk, Iowa" - no offense to Iowans (Iowinians?). My Texas husband would say "out in the sticks" or "Hicksville."
Well, I'm glad I live in Illinois and not Iowa!:) Oh, and I forgot to say "out in the sticks" and "hicksville"... we say those too.
 

Jill81

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2014
Portuguese 2015
Via Francigena 2016
Kumano Kodo, Japan 2017
VdlP 2018 to be cont’d
#31
In northern Canada which is often shown on maps as “mostly wooded swamp”, small towns often get silly nicknames like Upper Rubber Boot. Also referred to as a good place to be from! :rolleyes:
 

Charles Zammit

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances , St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra May/ June 2017
Le Puy en Velay - Ales May 2018
#33
Perhaps the most ' Australian ' of them all is that phrase that conjures up thoughts of deserts , bush and desolation .
'' Beyond the Black Stump '' Then there is '' The back of Bourke '' and of course if you are in a predicament or somewhere that you really don't want to be you are '' Up $h!t Creek '' or if it's really really bad '' Up $h!t Creek in a barbed wire canoe without a paddle '' :)

 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés five times, Madrid two days, Ingles once.
#34
... my personal favourite, is "The other side of the black stump."
Thank you, Gerard, for mentioning this! There is a book by Nevil Shute called Beyond the Black Stump, and way back when I read it, I had no idea what it referred to - then forgot about it until now! And my library has the book!! Oh my goodness! Thanks again for the reminder!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Northern Way (2017)
#40
Well, in German we also have e.g. a village situated "in der Pampa", referring to the huge flat areas in Argentina. Don't ask me how Argentinan geography came into this german saying...
A more colloquial description of a remote place and not really polite is "am Arsch der Welt" which is common among youngsters. Living "in der Walachei" is another way of expressing the same thing, the Walachei being a landscape in Romania.
I lived in Argentina for a year as an exchange student - lots of families from Germany (and Italy too). There is some complicated history there I'd bet...

In my family (southern Canadian), you might talk about "up North", wilderness, middle of nowhere (again), in the middle of bloody nowhere (and less polite versions), the wild, back country, Spuzzum (a very regional reference to an almost non-existent village), wifi-free zone, and there are a range of other expressions that really can't be brought up here. Like Australia, there are a lot of places that really are empty, so various forms of creative emphasis are required.

Flying North is an extraordinary experience - I recently flew from Fort St. John (in the North) to Vancouver at night. During the 1.25 hour flight, the only lights from towns and villages were visible during the first 5 and last 15 minutes. Otherwise, I could see a single source of artificial lighting in the mountains perhaps once every 15 minutes (and that seems optimistic).
 

Alan Pearce

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones 2008, del Norte 2009, VdlP 2011, Ingles 2014, Camino de Madri 2015, Frances 2017
#41
I drove to Hillston two days ago [ Hillston is on the Hay Plains - just so much like the Meseta! ]. About 35 km before Hillston you go past the Black Stump. Fair dinkum!

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 

Gumba

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF with my husband and two boys in March 2018
Planning a winter CF in 2019/2020
#42
Living on the east coast of Australia, we say 'way out west'. What we actually mean is 'waaaaaaaaaaaaaay out west'. Where farm size is refered to by square kilometers (not acres/hectares). Don't know what out friends from Western Australia say lol. This is a hit song from the '90's that sums it up...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Geneva to Irun then Norte to SDC 2015, Piemont Pyreneen 2018
#43
When my great grandfather homesteaded in southern Saskatchewan in the early 1900's he was said to be "off the grid" as the roads weren't in yet and there was no electricity. 30 years later my grandfather on the same farm was blown out during the dirty thirties and headed 450 kms north to raise sheep! of all things and he was "off the grid" until he died.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2017: Home(Germany) to SdC via Cologne-Taizé-Le Puy-Somport-Camino Aragones-Camino Frances
#44
Very suitable to our topic: just yesterday, an Oxford University report on travel times to cities hit the news. I read about it in german in Der Spiegel, but The Guardian has an english version.

The maps are dark where travel times are long (in some regions more than a whole day) and get lighter as travel times decrease. So that's how the back of beyond / die Pampa / the Cucamunga or van god en iedereen verlaten looks like!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#46
I've come up with another, beyond the pale. Now its usage generally refers to behavior outside the bounds of civilised behavior but originally the usage was referring to land beyond a boundary delimiting civilization.

Way back in the day when the English were colonizing Ireland they figured that they owned the whole country but in reality only controlled an area around around Dublin. So they marked off that area with a banked ditch and fence made of stakes (pales). That boundary became known as the pale.

Ken Jennings, reknown long-term champion of the quiz game show Jeopardy has written an article, What 'Beyond the Pale' Actually Means for the magazine Condé Nast Traveler.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
#49
I found a few expressions in Spanish, the first is perhaps the most common idiom for denoting a remote place? None of them would be immediately comprehensible to me:
  • En el quinto pino (in the fifth pine tree???)
  • Allá por donde el aire da vuelta (where the wind turns)
  • Donde Cristo dio las tres voces (biblical reference to the Temptation in the Desert)
  • Donde Cristo perdió la zapatilla (where Christ lost his sandal)
There are other expresions more used than these ones but rude to put on the forum.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#52
on another thread I saw mention of being in the “boonies”, a word I am unfamiliar with, but was instantly understandable. This got me thinking....how do others describe being in the middle of nowhere/ the back of beyond/ the wop-wops (or even just out in the wops - or the sticks, for that matter)?
Then I thought some more (it’s a very cerebrally active day)....are there regional variations? Which is really a rhetorical question (I have a linguistics major so I do know the answer is yes! Perhaps the question should be: can we identify some usages based on location?)
Then I had one more thought: how do people express this concept in other languages?
So if you’d like to chime in, would you mind giving your phrase (or its equivalent in English) and your location.....
In the back of beyond here mate you say nothing , its too bloody hot.
The least said is sometimes best , a look is just as significant .
 
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Camino(s) past & future
September 2-October 7 (2013)
May 5-28 (2015)
#54
I lived in Argentina for a year as an exchange student - lots of families from Germany (and Italy too). There is some complicated history there I'd bet...

In my family (southern Canadian), you might talk about "up North", wilderness, middle of nowhere (again), in the middle of bloody nowhere (and less polite versions), the wild, back country, Spuzzum (a very regional reference to an almost non-existent village), wifi-free zone, and there are a range of other expressions that really can't be brought up here. Like Australia, there are a lot of places that really are empty, so various forms of creative emphasis are required.

Flying North is an extraordinary experience - I recently flew from Fort St. John (in the North) to Vancouver at night. During the 1.25 hour flight, the only lights from towns and villages were visible during the first 5 and last 15 minutes. Otherwise, I could see a single source of artificial lighting in the mountains perhaps once every 15 minutes (and that seems optimistic).
"Beyond Hope" with Hope being a small BC town beyond which there are lots of small communities and hamlets including Spuzzum. I was wondering, Northern Laurie, if you remember the band from Vancouver called "Six Cylinder" that had a hit called "Beyond Hope" with a refrain that went "If you haven't been to Spuzzum you ain't been anywhere!"
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#58
As a Kiwi I often heard *wop wop."
in Aussie I still hear "woop woops" and "back of beyond."
In both countries, and my personal favourite, is "The other side of the black stump."
Or even just the wops
When we were kids the expression was "heading to Ekatahuna" I thought it was an imaginary place. I was fully adult before I realized it was a place, and my grandmother was born there!
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#59
Thank you, Gerard, for mentioning this! There is a book by Nevil Shute called Beyond the Black Stump, and way back when I read it, I had no idea what it referred to - then forgot about it until now! And my library has the book!! Oh my goodness! Thanks again for the reminder!
Neville Shute, brilliant story teller, love his books.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2017: Home(Germany) to SdC via Cologne-Taizé-Le Puy-Somport-Camino Aragones-Camino Frances
#63
@Kiwi-family - did they move the Kiwi bird in Ekatahuna? Goggle Maps has it located on Main Street before another background than your picture. Or is there a second one? Nice idea, though.
Is this place really that remote that its name qualifies for extreme remoteness? The German Wikipedia even features five significant buildings in Ekatahuna ;) (granted, one is a woolshed :cool:).
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#64
It is pretty remote, if you do the maths
If you take that NZ has roughly 4 million people, 1.5m live in Auckland and less than a million live in the south island (roughly 20% in the south island). And then deduct the main towns and cities, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua , Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Wellington, Whakatane etc - whats left over is pretty sparce and remote.
Ironically I live in a remote hamlet by the sea in Northland with a population of around 200, even more remote by most people's standards. And we have a notable tree and two notable buildings.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF April 2016 April - Jun
Del Norte, Finesterre 2018 May - Jun
#66
Nice challenge, but a hard one for a Dutchie. In a country the size of a postage stamp, it is difficult to end up in the sticks. That might be the reason there isn't really a one-on-one translation of 'in the middle of nowhere' in Dutch. You can phrase it literal as 'in het midden van nergens' and everybody will know what you mean, but it isn't common to use it like that.

We do however have expressions like 'in niemandsland', which literally translates as 'in no man's land', i.e. uninhabited land. Or 'van god en iedereen verlaten', which is best described as godforsaken, or left by god and everyone else. But we do have a good synonym for 'the sticks' in Holland, because of our colonial past. Rimboe, a word that originated from the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) word 'remboe' (which in turn comes from the Malaysian 'rimba'), meaning wilderness or jungle.

The most common expression that springs to mind though is one of derision. For some people in the Netherlands there is a very clear line between city-folk and those not living in a (big) city. Everybody in Amsterdam and the surrounding big cities (Rotterdam, Den Haag and Utrecht) lives in the Randstad as they call it, an agglomeration. Everybody else is therefore a 'provinciaal' or lives in 'de provincie', meaning provincial and province. You're basically a hick if you live there, is what they are trying to say. Snobsters...
A bit off the theme, but did you know Tasmania was named Van Diemen's Land by Europeans after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman charted some of the coastline (before it was known as an island). Tasman named the land Anthooniji van Diemenslandt after Anthony van Diemen, the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. It was renamed Tasmania, now part of Australia, in 1856. History is so interesting
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
#67
Or even just the wops
When we were kids the expression was "heading to Ekatahuna" I thought it was an imaginary place. I was fully adult before I realized it was a place, and my grandmother was born there!
Ha, maybe she knew my grandmother who worked there as a girl. As an aside, when I get lost on the Camino I can often be heard miss using a comman kiwi call: "Where the Whuckarewe!"
 

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