Media playback is unsupported on your device

Why Chicago is 'Stink Onions' in the Atlas of True Names

30 August 2013 Last updated at 01:02 BST

If you were to consult the Atlas of True Names when planning a trip, you might become a little confused. Searching for the big US city on the shores of Lake Michigan, you would find the name "Stink Onions" instead of Chicago.

That is because this particular atlas attempts to reveal the etymological roots, or original meanings, of the names of familiar places all over the world.

It has been argued that the word Chicago, for example, is actually a French version of the word shikaakwa - or Stink Onions - named after the plants that were once common along the Chicago River.

German cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust are the married couple behind the Atlas of True Names, which now has five maps in the series.

Using their own research, they have filled the maps with their interpretations of the original place names - although some of the names go back so far that there are sometimes conflicting views about their "true" origins.

BBC News went to meet Stephan Hormes at his studio in Lubeck to find out more.

Video journalist: Suraj Patel

Real Time is a series for the BBC News website in which ordinary people tell their own extraordinary stories.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.