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I read this quite recently.

The village of Beddgelert has shown that it is possible to reverse soil degradation.

Versus

The village Beddgelert has shown that it is possible to reverse soil degradation.

Which one sounds more appropriate? Also, In Geography, I read,

The state of Rajasthan is endowed with wind and solar energy.

What difference does it make to say

Rajasthan is endowed with wind and solar energy.?

Cheers!

2 Answers 2

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It's syntactically valid to omit the preposition of in OP's examples, but idiomatically uncommon. A bit of background from britannica.com on Toponymy (taxonomic study of place-names)...

Habitation and feature names are either generic or specific, or a combination of the two. A generic name refers to a class of names such as river, mountain, or town. A specific name serves to restrict or modify the meaning of the place-name.

We only usually only use the "combined" naming convention if it's contextually important to specify the "generic" component - either because the "specific" element is likely to be unfamiliar to the audience, or to disambiguate (State of New York, City of New York).

I would say the default is that if specified, the generic component is normally followed by of [SpecificName] with "population centre" place names (village, town, city). But "geographical features" are often referred to using the specific component as an initial-position adjective (Table Mountain, the River Thames). Note that the river of [RiverName] is extremely unlikely, but the Forest of [ForestName] and [ForestName] Forest are both in common use.

Unfortunately, the situation is complicated by things like Mount Everest, where the optional generic mount = mountain has effectively been incorporated into a "double-barrelled proper noun" (and nobody ever refers to the mountain [of] Everest or Everest mountain), and County Kildare (rarely the county [of] Kildare). It's also worth noting the capitalisation of proper nouns such as The Forest of Dean is in the county of Gloucestershire.


In short, there are no clear-cut rules as to which format would be used for any given referent. But as a general principle, the preposition of should be included in any reference where the "specific" component is unfamiliar or ambiguous, unless you're already aware that for the specific case in point, a different convention has become firmly established.

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It is usual to insert the preposition of between the entity and its name. It makes for easier reading and sounds more natural. Without of there is a need for a momentary pause to make it clear that the entity and the place are one and the same.

The village of Upperdee

The town of Newfort

The port of Dover

The city of London

The province of Ontario

The preposition may also be omitted in certain constructions, often after you have already introduced the place concerned, such as:

Ahead of us we could see our destination. The city, York, whose cathedral...

A cluster of pretty houses lay ahead. The village, Upperdee, which is situated on the river,

In these instances of is optional. But omitting it makes it clear that the destination and the city are one and the same, as are the houses and the village.

Regarding your question about Rajasthan, introducing it with the state of informs us of its status (not a town or city but a state). For those who know it well, it hardly matters. But for the world at large it might be useful information.

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