Sunday, 12 July 2020

Turkmenistan 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 Turkmenistan cities.


Ashgabat translates from the Persian as 'city of love' or 'city of devotion'.

Turkmenabat, which clearly refers to the people, was formerly known known Chharjvy, the Persian for 'four canals'.


Dasoguz is the Tyrkmen for 'stone spring'.

Balkanabat adds abad to the name of Balkan mountains. It was founded as Neftedag in 1933, this from the Russian neft dag or 'oil mountain'.


Yoloten translates as 'the way passes over'.

Marghab is a river which takes its name from the Murghab District.


Anua comes from the Persian and means 'new water'.

Geok Tepe comes from Turkmen and means 'blue hill or summit'.


Murgap comes from the Turkmen roots mur gap and describes 'the land with the place of water'.

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

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Turkey 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 Turkey cities.


Istanbul is thought to be named from the personal name Byzas, the legendary founder of the city. Previously known known as Constaninople 'the city of Constantine'.


Ankara was known as Ankyra or 'anchor' to the Greeks.

Izmir is the Turkish rendering of the original Greek Smyrna, known to be a personal name but no knowlegde of who the person may have been.

Bursa was known as Prusa to the Greeks, this named after the King of Bithynia Prusias I, who was given the kingdom by Philip V of Macedon. The city was once known as Hudavendigar, the Persian for 'God's gift'.


Gaziantep has several suggested origins: from the Hittite khantap or 'king's land'; from Arabic ain and Aramaic tan giving 'praise the spring'; from Arabic ain tayyib 'good spring'; or Aramiac ayin debo 'spring of the wolf'.

Konya is recorded in history as Ikonion, which has been said to come from the Greek eikon or 'image'. In turn this has been said to refer to the gorgon Medusa, Perseus using her head to defeat the population before founding a new city.

Antalya was founded as Attaleia from its founder Attalos II, King of Pergamon and who died in 138BC at the reported age of 82.


Kayseri was originally known as Mazaka, named after its founder Mishak. The modern name comes from Caesar Augustus, it named at his death in AD14.

Eskisehir comes from the Turkish eski sehit or 'old city'. Not a bad name for a city which has evidence of being occupied by the Phrygians some three thousand years ago and may well be a thousand or more years older.


Diyarbakir is Arabic for 'the land of Bakir', the name of the tribe who settled here in the 7th century. The Romans and Byzantines called it Amida.

Denizli is thought to refer to this 'having an abundance of water sources'.

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

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Tunisia 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 Tunisian cities.


Tunis has a number of explanations: the Phoenician goddess Tanith; from the Berber root ens which could mean 'to lie down' or 'to pass right or 'camp at night' or 'stop'.

Sousse is a French version of the Arabic name, itself probably from the Berber Sous River.


Kairouan is an Arabic version of the Persian karvan meaning 'military camp'.

Bizerte is from the Punic and related to ubon meaning 'harbour'.


Aryanah is a name which dates from which this was a Vandal Kingdom and either refers to the Arian faith or to the Persians referring to themselves as Aryan.

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

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Trinidad and Tobago 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 Trinidad and Tobago places.


Chaguanas was named for the Chaguanes tribe who are indigenous to this region.


Port of Spain's origins are clearly a reference to the colonial era. It was founded near the indigenous people's settlement of Cumucurapo or 'place of the silk cotton trees'.

Princes Town was named to mark the visit, in 1880, by two of Queen Victoria's grandsons - Prince Albert and Prince George (the latter the future George V).


Diego Martin was named to honour the Spanish explorer Don Diego Martin.

Valencia is a transferred name, the Spanish version is hardly relevant here but comes from the Latin name and means 'strength, valour'.

Scarborough is another transferred name, the English version derived from 'Skarthi's fortified place'.


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

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Tonga 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 of Tonga's places.

Minerva Reefs were named after one of their victims, the whaling ship Minerva wrecked in 1829.


Holonga traditionally got its name from the people of Pea, who escaped from their home after losing a battle. They ran and ran. While some stopped and settled en route, one group ran and ran until, now exhausted, they hid in a bush. This was Holonga - holo means 'escaped' and nga 'cry'.


Kolonga gpts its name from another battle and another retreat, or so it's said. Retreating to a distant settlement they were bemoaning their loss when a chieftain asked "What is that sound?" and was told koe kolo 'oku nga, 'uhinga koe kolo 'oku tangi or 'the town is weeping meaning the town is crying'.


Fonuafo'ou is the Tongan for 'new land', a reference to this volcanic island.


Falevai translates from Tongan as 'water house' and a reminder of just how close to the ocean the houses are.


Vailmalo was named when the first Spanish explorers arrived and were met by the Tongans. They asked the Spanish what they want and the Spanish asked for water. Whereupon they were given water and food and made welcome for the next two weeks. When departing the Spanish said gracias aqua 'thank you water' and the Tonagan vail malo means exactly the same.


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

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Togo 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 of Togo's cities.


Kara takes its name from the Kara River on which it stands, the river name has never been understood.

Kpalime was originally known as Agome-Kpalime, the Agome being the name of the people. Kpalime is an abbreviation of mokpalipe or 'crossroads'.


Tchamba takes its name from the tribe living in and around here.

Notse is a distortion of the word noin, and says 'we stay here' in the Ewe dialect.


Maritime is the southernmost of Togo's five regions and named as it is the only one with a coastline.

Centrale is a region of Togo named because it is the middle of the five regions.

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

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Thailand 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 of Thailand's cities.


Bangkok's origins are unclear, although most often said to be bang 'village on a stream' and ko 'island'. Alternatively this could be bank makok, where the latter refers to Elaeocarpus hygrophilus a plant which produces fruit similar to the olive.


Pak Kret refers to its location as 'the village at the lesser bypass', not a road but a rerouting of the Chao Phraya River..

Surat Thani was named by King Vajravudh in 1915 as 'the city of good people'.

Chiang Mai simply means 'new city', although the city was founded in 1296.


Nakhon Ratchasima comes from several sources: Nakhon is the Sanskrit for 'city', raj from Sanskrit for 'sovereign', and Thai suma 'temple'.

Nakhon Si Thammarat is 'the city of the righteous ruler', a reference to the religious concept of Dharma.

Nakhon Sawan describes itself as the 'heavnely city'.

Phuket is possibly from the Malay for 'hill', which would fit with its previous name of Thalang derived from 'cape'.


Ubon Ratchathani describes itself as the 'royal lotus city'.

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