The Name's The Thing

You know how people reuse place names all the damn time? It's not coincidence, it's not laziness, and it's not a lack of creativity—it's them. They don't have an official name they agree on, but they go by many—straight-up namewalkers is the one I prefer. They've been guiding people to reuse names for things all over the place. Why? Because to them, if it's got the same name, it's the same place.

They use names for fast travel around the world. Drive into one Springfield, drive out of a different one anywhere in the US. Paris, Texas is a suburb of Paris, France as far as they're concerned. Spot a Main Street, and it's like a nexus to half the towns in the English-speaking world. You know why every town in the Bay Area reuses the same dozen street names for everything? It's cause these guys hate to commute.

They're also behind cultural imperialism—native names for places don't link anywhere, because they're too local. Get a big empire with a popular language to show up and rename everything, and bam—easy access in and out.

The easiest way to spot a namewalker, other than seeing evidence they keep showing up in distant places without having hopped a plane, is by their own name. Look for people with really distinctive, downright unique names. You see, a while back one of them figured out it didn't just work for places, it worked for people too. It's a defensive measure. Powerful people make enemies, and it's much easier to watch over just you own shoulder than over 100,000 other shoulders also belonging to a John Smith.