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'DID YOU know,' I said to Josephine, 'that there's a small area of London that has an Occitan name?'
'No,' she said.
'I mean,' I prattled on, 'there's this language, Occitan, that no one in the south of France speaks as their mother tongue any more, except maybe a few very elderly people, so to all intents and purposes it's dead, like Cornish. And yet an Occitan word has given its name to an area of London. Don't you think that's extraordinary?'
'Not really,' she said. 'What is it? Convince me.'
'Castelnau,' I said. 'On the south side of Hammersmith Bridge. It's part of Barnes, really. In Occitan it means 'high castle'. Castel means castle, obviously, and nau, sometimes naut or naud, means high.'
'Are you sure? Doesn't it mean 'new castle'?'
'Nope. High castle. Quite sure.'