Physical Geography

Several names given to physical features in the landscape are borrowed from other languages. The French word plateau is one that immediately springs to mind. In Spanish this landform is called a meseta. The word for a table top feature with steep sides formed by differential weathering of soft rock and a hard cap rock is taken from the Spanish word mesa, table. Continued weathering and erosion of such features eventually creates isolated towers of rock known as inselbergs, German for isolated mountain. Also from German we have horst, a block fault in which land is raised up and graben a drop fault. In glacial geography the word moraine is from the French moraine, Italian Savoyard morêna and Franco-Provencal mor, morre, a muzzle or snout, which is a fairly apt descipton of terminal moraine. Corries, cwms and cirques are referred to by any of these names, cwm being Welsh and cirque French. Rocks smoothed by the passage of ice on one side and jagged through the plucking of the ice on the other side are called roche moutonnée because the jagged side has a resemblance to fleece. A French word is also given to raised banks along a river – levee.


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