As a long-time fan of the Discworld books, I think I'm up on almost all the puns and references in them. However, one has never quite fit for me. Ever since I first read Mort lo these many years ago, I have wondered about the name Sto Helit.

Sto Lat, the theoretical capital of the Sto Plains, is named (I am told) for a Polish song that's somewhat equivalent to "Happy Birthday" or "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow". The duchy that's on the edge of Lancre, Sto Helit (also Susan's surname, as she's technically the duchess), doesn't seem to be an obvious joke or pun, but it's such an altogether odd name that I can't help thinking it means something. This is complicated by not being quite sure how to say it -- I'm not sure if it's Sto HELL-it or Sto heh-LEET. If the latter, then maybe it's meant to sound like "so elite"?

Does anyone know anything? Is this something that's well known and I've just missed it, or does it really not mean anything (as far as anyone knows)?

(GNU Terry Pratchett)

  • The Annotated Pratchett File doesn't seem to know the origin. lspace.org/books/apf/mort.html
    – b_jonas
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 4:50
  • It's one of the principle cities of the Sto plains along with Sto Lat and Sto Kerrig. I'm not seeing a pune here.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 6:31
  • 1
    Helit means sound in Finnish. Kerrig means neat in Dutch. Lat means years in Polish. I'm not seeing any theme here.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 6:35
  • The audiobook has it as "hellitt".
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 6:59
  • @Valorum Kerrig isn't Dutch. Maybe you are confusing it with Karig which is Dutch for meager/poor/barely sufficient (depending on context).
    – Tonny
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 11:28

3 Answers 3


In brief it would appear not. I've seen plenty of web-chatter that the city of Sto Lat is based on the Polish cheer ("one hundred years!") which is often used as a party song, but I've not found any obvious reference to back this up.

By the same token, the other Stos (Sto Kerrig and Sto Helit) don't appear to be related and the words don't appear in Polish, nor do each of the three words appear to be common in any language.

It's possible that it's a pun on "Stole it", but I think that's a reach. I think it's more likely that having identified Sto Lat as being part of the Sto Plains, Sir Terry just carried on the naming tradition, in the same way that Mos Eisley is near Mos Espa and Mos Entha

  • google.com/… only mentions that it's not Polish.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 15:25
  • "Sto" is Polish "hundred", but otherwise nothing rings a bell.
    – Mithoron
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 17:09
  • Not only polish. In almost every slavic languages "sto" means "one hundred". In serbian, russian, belarusian, ukrainian, bosnian, bulgaian, czech and croatian there is the same word "sto" and it means the same. And expression "сто лет" ("sto lat") is familiar everyday expressions, not only in song. Usually they say "живи до 100 лет" ("live to be 100")
    – Zvezdochka
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 23:43

Maybe it is to do with UK regional accents

  • Sto plains = stop lanes
  • Sto lat = Stop light or Stole it
  • Sto Kerrig = Stop Right or It's Not Right
  • Sto helit = Stop left or Stole it.

If the spaces in the names are moved around, Sto Plains becomes "Stop Lains, stop being a common English word, while Sto Lat and Sto Helit do not seem to contain any common English words.

Sto Helit is "tile hots" backwards. Sto Lat is "ta lots" backwards. Sto Plains are "snial pots" backwards. So all those names included common English words when written backwards.

Is that a clue to possible puns?

  • 7
    For starters, snial isn't an English word at all, and lains is obscure and obsolete so hardly 'common'.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 16:01
  • 5
    Obscure anagrams are not really Pterry's style, IMO. While Llamedos is a backward-word pun, that's a direct reference to Samuel Butler's Erewhon and Fritz Leiber's Nehwon and not the usual for Discworld. Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 16:15
  • 6
    @DarthPseudonym Actually, Llamedos was more a nod to Dylan Thomas's Llareggub. Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 17:09
  • 6
    Llamedos is probably based on Llareggub - Bugger All in Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood
    – CSM
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 17:15
  • Fair enough. Point being it's backwards for a specific reference and not because Pratchett just loves hiding words backwards. Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 17:35

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.