Sunday, 30 December 2018

Kyrgystan 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 Kyrgystan cities.

Bishkek has only been known as such since 1991, prior to that it had been known as Frunze by the Soviet Union from 1925, and as Pishpek when established as a fortress in 1825. Frunze was after the Bolshevik leader Mikhail Frunze who was born here and who died in 1925. The name of Pishkek is thought to be from a Kyrgyz word for a 'churn', one used specifically to make fermented mare's milk, the national drink.

Jalal-Abad is known for its mineral springs, the water from the spa long believed to cure leprosy. Its name comes from Jalal ad Din, who set up caravanserais (early service station)serving travellers and pilgrims to the holy mountain. The suffix of '-abad' or '-abat' comes from the Persian and denotes a place associated with the named person.

Tokmok simply means 'hammer', a reference to it being established as a military outpost.

Kara-Balta translates as 'black axe'.

Kant is the Kyrgyz word for 'sugar', for a sugar plant constructed here in 1930.

Kara-Suu is the Kyrgyz for 'black water'.

Isfana is thought to come from the Sogdian word asbanikat meaning 'the land of horses'.

Toktogul is named after its most famous inhabitant, Toktogul Satilganov a poet and composer (1864-1933).

Batken comes from the Sogdian, an Iranian language, and means 'the city of wind'.

Sulukta comes from the Turkic word zuluk and, with the suffix, refers to a place 'containing leeches'.

Cholpon-Ata is literally 'Venus father' and refers to the mythological protector of the area.

Kok-Janggak is from the Kyrgyz for 'green walnut'.

Pristan'-Przheval'sk is named after the Russian geographer Nikolai Mikhailovich Przhevalsky (1839-1888) whose grave is found here.

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


  1. It's the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy.
    I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions.
    Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.
    I wish to read more things about it!

  2. With havin so much written content do you ever
    run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation?
    My website has a lot of unique content I've either authored myself
    or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all
    over the internet without my agreement. Do you know any methods to help reduce
    content from being stolen? I'd truly appreciate it.

  3. At this time it looks like Wordpress is the top blogging platform out there
    right now. (from what I've read) Is that what you're using on your blog?

  4. Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your
    blog and wanted to say that I've really loved
    browsing your weblog posts. In any case I'll be subscribing on your feed and I'm hoping you write once more very soon!

  5. Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my
    zynga group? There's a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content.
    Please let me know. Thank you

    1. Please do share, as long as full credit is given for the source.