Sunday, 17 February 2019

Libya Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest Libya cities.


Tripoli is a Greek name meaning 'three cities'. It was founded by the Phoenicians some 2,700 years ago, they named it Oea.


Benghazi was founded around 525BC and named Euesperides, a name referring to the great fertility of this area and to the garden of Hesperides. Two hundred years later the place had become Berenice and not until the Genoese merchants began trading with the tribes of the hinterland do we first see the present name, then recorded as Marsa ibn Ghazi.


Misurata gets its name from the Mirata tribe, a Berber people who inhabited this area for many years.


Zliten takes its name from the Isliten tribe, another Berber people in residence here.


Bayda is the Arabic word for 'white', although originally this was az-Zawiyat al_Bayda 'the white monastery', this the white painted zawiyah on the hill top.


Al Khums translates as 'the quintile', the name not readily understood but possibly refers to some counting quirk used when dealing in olives and olive oil.


Kufra is from the Arabic kafir, an Arabic term for non-Muslims.


Tajura is named after a princess who lost her crown with taj 'crown' and Oura the name of the princess.


Tarhuna takes its name from the Berber tribe who inhabited this region prior to the Roman occupation.


Msallata may come from the Arabic word masalla because there is a core of tall buildings.


Tawergha is from the Berber language and means 'the green island'.


Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Liberia Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest Liberia cities.


Arthington is named after Robert Arthington, a man from Leeds in Yorkshire who contributed hard cash to enable former slaves to migrate from the southern United States.


Barclayville was created and named after President Edwin Barclay, the 18th president of Liberia whose administration lasted from 1930 to 1944.


Buchanan takes its name from Thomas Buchanan, cousin of former US president James. Thomas was the second governor of Liberia.


Careysburg is named in honour of the Reverend Lott Carey, he the first American Baptist missionary to Africa and a key figure in the founding of Liberia.


Clay-Ashland is named after Henry Clay, a slaveowner who favoured emancipation, and his former estate of Ashland in Lexington, Kentucky.


Fish Town hardly needs any explanation, the catch taken from the Neseme creek.


Greenville was named after Judge James Green, among the first of the Mississippi Delta planters to send former slaves to Liberia.


Harbel is named after the founder of the Founder Tire and Rubber Company and his wife, Harvey and Isabelle Firestone. This place has long been the site of a major rubber plantation.

Harper is named after Robert Goodloe Harper, a US politician who was not only influential in the former of the colony but the man who suggested the name of Liberia.


Monrovia is fairly well known as named after US president James Monroe, he a prominent supporter of the colony.


River Cess is a place name. A recent census put the population at 2,578. It;s name was given as Cestos by Portuguese traders in the early 16th century, it means 'basket' and refers to those produced and sold here.


Robertsport is named after Joseph Jenkins Roberts, Liberia's first president.


Virginia, originally called New Virginia, took its name from the US state, itself named after Queen Elizabeth I of England, known as the Virgin Queen. The majority coming to Liberia from Virginia.


Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Lesotho Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest Lesotho cities.


Maseru is the capital of Leotho with a population of some 330,000. It is not only the name of the city but of the district, this a Sesotho word meaning 'red sandstone'.


Teyateyaneng gets its name from two rivers: the Tebe-tebe and the Teja-tejana, tributaries of the Mohokare River. Both tributaries are named for their deep sandy bottoms and refer to this area as 'the place of quick sands'.


Mafeteg is held to be named after an early visitor, one Emile Roland. Emile was also known as Lefeta, 'the traveller' or perhaps 'passer-by', and thus the place name refers to itself as 'the place of the passers-by'.


Mohale's Hoek is an area named after the younger brother of Moshoeshoe, an 18th century chieftain.


Butha-Buthe is also the name of this city's district, both taking their name from a feature of the local area marking it out as 'the place of deposits'.


Mokhotlong takes its name from the Lesotho language and means 'place of the bald ibis'.


Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Lebanon Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest Lebanese cities.


Beirut is the capital, an Anglicised version of the Arabic Bayrut. This is ultimately from the Phoenician place name Berot or Birut, both seen in the Canaanite or Phoenician be'rot which, some 3,500 years ago, describes this place as 'the wells'.


Tripoli can also be traced back to the Phoenician age, during which time it has had several names. This name is derived from the Greek and means 'the three cities'. The Arabic name is al-fayha 'the scent or smell' and a reference to the vast orange orchards once found here.


Sidon comes from the Phoenician Sidun 'fishing town'.


Tyre refers to its location on a rocky formation and means simply 'rock'.


Byblos is difficult to trace because of the variety of records coming from speakers from several languages. It is most likely a name meaning 'God's well', where the name refers to God's place rather than a source of water.


Aley is from Aramaic and means 'high place', it does indeed stand at least six hundred metres above sea level.


Nabatieh is another from Phoenician, this meaning 'the appearance' and a reference to how it would have been easily recognised from the sea owing to its many grottoes.


Baalbek was known as Helioupolis or 'sun city' to the Greeks. Its present name refers to 'Ba'al, Lord of the Beka'.


Zahle is a Syriac word meaning 'moving places' and points to the continuous danger of landslides in this area.


Zgharta has been explained as coming from the Aramaic zaghar or 'fortress'.


Ehden is a region named from the Aramaic for 'the mountain's base and slope'.


Batroun is from the Arabic al-Batroun and the Phoenician word bater 'to cut'. A reference to the sea wall which created the harbour here.


Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Latvia Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest Latvian cities.


Daugavpils is the pils or 'castle' on the river Daugava. Also known as the Western Dvina, it is from an early Indo-European word meaning simply 'river'.


Jekabpils also features the suffix pils 'castle', here following the name of Jacob Kettler, Duke of Courland.


Jelgava, known as Mitau until 1917, a name either meaning 'the middleof the Aa' (a river name), or 'the place of trade', gets its current name from the Livonian jalgab 'town on the river'.


Jurmala is from two Latvian words jura mala or 'edge of the sea'. Although we would normally say 'seaside'.


Liepaja takes its name from the river Liva on which it stands, this from the Livonian word liiv meaning 'sand'.


Riga is the capital and largest city with a population of more than 630,000. Its name comes from the Livonian ringa meaning 'loop', this a reference to the natural harbour, a feature of a tributary of the Daugava river.


Valmeira comes from the Old German name Waldermar and its Slavic version of Vladimir. It is not clear just which person this common name refers to, but seems most likely to be a reference to the noble of the Principality of Pskov Valdimir Mstislavich, a vassal of Albert of Riga from 1212.


Ogre is possibly from a Russian source, an early name for the river on which it stands and meaning 'eels' from ugri. However an earlier name for the place was Wogene, Woga and is possibly from the Estonian voog 'stream, flow, waves'.


Talsi comes from the Livonian word talusse telling this was once a 'secluded place'.


Aluksne comes from the Latgalian word oluksna meaning 'spring in the forest'.


Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.