Sunday, 30 June 2019

Morocco 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 Moroccan cities.

Casablanca was from the 15th century Portuguese Casa Branca or 'white house', previously the place had been known as Anfa in the Berber tongue since as least the seventh century BC and is still the name of a region of the city.

Fez is thought to have earlier been known as Fas and related to the region known as Faza, all ultimately from the Berber tribe that settled here, the Bany Fazaz.

Tangier, recorded during the classic Greek and Roman eras as Tinga, Tenga and Titga, was known to the earlier Berber people as Tingi, this from tingis or 'marsh'. Note the Greeks claimed this to have been named after Tingis, daughter of the titan Atlas, he who supported the heavens on his shoulders.

Marrakesh is perhaps the Berber amur n akush 'the land of God', although earlier it had been documented as Qarawiyyin 'country of the sons of Kush'.

Meknes is named after the Berber tribe, the Miknasa.

Rabat is recorded as Ribatu I-Fath in 1170, a name meaning 'stronghold of victory'.

Kenitra is derived from the Arabic al-Qonaytera 'the little bridge'.

Agadir is a Berber word, used in several contexts to mean 'wall, enclosure, fortified building, citadel', all of obvious oriins where a place name is concerned.

Tetouan is another of Berber origin, this with the literal meaning 'the eyes' but understood as 'the water springs'.

Safi is pronounced locally as Asfi, coming from the Berber root meaning 'to flood, spill, pour' and a reference to its watery location.

Nador has at least three suggested origins, with meanings as diverse as small village by a lagoo', 'lighthouse' or 'sight'.

Settat is derived from the term Ait Settat, the name of a Senhaja-Berber tribe.

Berkane is quite simply the Berber word for 'black'.

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

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