Sunday, 16 June 2019

Mongolia 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 Mongolian cities.

Ulaanbaatar translates as 'red hero' from the classical Mongolian Ulaganbagatur, although the majority wanted to call it Baatar Khot 'hero city', they folded to pressure from Turar Ryskulov, a Soviet activist of the Communist International. This name has only existed for under a century, prior to 1924 the name had been Niislei Khuree 'the capital camp' since 1911. Previously there had been several names, including Ikh Khuree 'great settlement', Bogdin Khuree 'great holy Khan's monastery', Da Khuree 'great settlement', and Urga 'palace'.

Erdenet may be the second most populous city in the country but still has less than 100,000 inhabitants in a place meaning 'with treasure' and a reference to this being home to one of the world's largest copper mines.

Darkhan was founded as a city as recently as 1961. Founded as a manufacturing site, it was given a most appropriate name meaning 'blacksmith'.

Choibalsan was named as such in 1941. It honours the communist leader Khorloogiin Choibalsan, who also commanded the Mongolian armed forces from the 1930s until his death in 1952. Perhaps something of his reputation can be seen when we see how he is sometimes referred to as 'the Stalin of Mongolia'.

Moron is the Mongolian word for 'river'. The settlement began as the Morongiin Khuree monastery on the banks of the Delgemoron River, literally 'wide river river'.

Bayankhongor has a name which translates as 'little darling'.

Olgii comes from the Mongolian for 'cradle'.

Arvaikheer is the Mongolian for 'barley steppe', as we learned at school the steppes are the temperate grasslands, notably lacking trees away from water sources, which dominate the easterly areas of the central Eurasian landmass.

Ulanngom is Mongolian for 'red valley'.

Baganuur means 'little lake' in Mongolian.

Tsetserleg translates as 'garden'.

Zuunmod is from the Mongolian for 'a hundred trees'.

Zamyn-Uud is from the Mongolian for 'road's gate', and is a transferred name from the former Dzamiin Uude settlement 63 miles northwest of here.

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


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