Sunday, 19 July 2015

Djibouti 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 to cast my net a little wider. This time Djibouti and a look at some of its largest settlements and most interesting names and starting with the capital.

Djibouti City gave its name to the country, the city thought to have originated as the Afar word gabouri meaning 'plate'. This would have been a ceremonial item, a plate woven from the fibres of doum-palms.

Tadjoura comes from Afar, where the noun tagor, or tagar in the plural, speaks of 'that which has goatskin flasks for drawing water'. This should not be taken overly literally and is understood as simply speaking of 'an abundance of water'.

Dikhil is from the Somali language where dikhil simply refers to 'a watering hole'.

Loyada gets its name from the Afar Le-adu meaning 'the white watering place'. This became Loowya adde in Somali, changing the meaning slightly to 'with white calves'. Note the French spelling of Loyada is today increasingly seen as the Somali Lawya caddo.

Considering the location it should not be overly unsurprising to find all these place names to be based on a supply of water.

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

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