Greetings from Saufend-on-Sji, in Polish-occupied England

What, er, might have been? (Not bloody likely, but still…)

This is England. But not as we know it. Imagine an alternative past, in which the Warsaw Pact successfully invaded Great Britain.

A Polish occupying force is trying to make sense of this strange land, and the strange names of its cities and towns. How would a Polish soldier have asked a local for directions? Not by trying to read Southend-on-Sea off a map. That name trips off a Warsaw tongue much easier in Polish phonetic spelling: Saufend-on-Sji.

This map was produced by and for the army of communist Poland, in our past – the real one – for the aftermath of a military victory that never materialised.

If the time had ever come for the Polish Army to police this corner of England, a map like this would have been handy, rendering the names of the main towns and cities of the area in a phonetic spelling that makes Polish sense out of English topography. Some other examples:

  • Dzylynem is Gillingham

  • Roczyste is Rochester

  • Mejdsten is Maidstone

  • Tanbrydz-Łelz is Tunbridge Wells

  • Hejstynz is Hastings

  • Istbon is Eastbourne

  • Koulczyste is Colchester

  • Byszeps-Stofed is Bishops Storford

  • Apmynste is Upminster

  • and of course, Landen is London.

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