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St Andrews’ Street Names Affect National Identity of Residence

New research by the University of St Andrews has shown that street names in the town affects the national identities of its residents.

Dr Daniel Oto-Peralías of St Andrews School of Management found that people who live on streets with British names, such as “Queen,” “Royal,” “Regent,” and “London” are less likely to identify as purely Scottish.

Photo: The University of St Andrews

This finding was referenced in Dr Oto-Peralías’s paper on how street names effect our national identity, and was published in the Journal of Economic Geography.

Dr Oto-Peralías compared Scottish Parliamentary constituency street names with others on a recent census identifying nationality. He found that those living in areas with less devoutly Scottish names were more likely to identify jointly as British.

The research also found that religious street names, such as “Church,” are amongst the top four most used street names in Scotland. The article also found that people living in areas with such religious street names were far more likely to identify themselves as Christian.

When asked about the reasoning, Dr. Oto-Peralías said, “Street names are cultural markers of a town and its history, and can be used as a rich source of information to create socio-cultural indicators at the regional and local level. With the help of data software with text analysis capabilities, it is feasible to analyse hundreds of thousands of street names to extract themes and trends capturing the culture and history of the population.”

Photo: Rightmove

When surveyed, one student originally from England responded that, after having lived in Scotland for two years (the past few months of which have been on Argyle Street, named after an old Scottish county) she felt very Scottish and had assimilated well into the culture.

However, an American student who had lived in Scotland for the same amount of time identified much less strongly with the culture, adding that he lived on Langland street (a street likely named after British poet, Bay Langland).

Though these are only two cases, Dr Oto-Peralías is based largely in St Andrews, and suggests our town may follow these patterns of street names and identity strongly.

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