I am amazed that according to John Davies and Alexander J. Kent in The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World (Books, 7 December), Soviet agents would not have been able to read “Gloucester” on road signs and knew it as “Gloster”.
They could always have consulted the Velikobritaniia lingvostranovedcheskii slovar [Great Britain: An Encyclopedic Dictionary] (1978), prepared by Adrian Room with seven Soviet authors. It contains useful entries not only for “Gloucester” but also for “Gloucester cheese” (glosterskii syr) and, to increase their knowledge of pigs, an invaluable one for “Gloucester Old Spot” (poroda svynei miaso-sal’nogo tipa).
R. E. Rawles
Honorary research fellow
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences
University College London