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.

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