Sunday, 13 October 2019

Paraguay 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 Paraguay's cities.

Asuncion was named by the Spanish conquistador Juan de Ayolas. In August 1537, he used this bay of the Paraguay River to resupply his ships when passing. He built a fort here and named it Nuestra Senora Santa Maria de la Asuncion 'Our Lady Sain Mary of the Assumption' and, as the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption on the 15th August, we must assume this was close to the day the Spanish were here.

Ciudad del Este is Spanish for 'City of the East', although this has only been the official name since 1989. Founded in February 1957 as Puerto Flor de Lis and later known as Puerto Presidente Stroessner to honour the dictator Alfredo Stroessner, late settlement is very much down to the dense jungle in the area which took some clearing.

Luque is first mentioned in 1635 when a Spanish captain named Miguel Anton de Luque came here. However, it was another Miguel de Luque (a descendant) who donated a sum of money around 1750 to build a chapel dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosary. It was later the name was applied, first recorded in 1781.

Lambare is an Spanish form of the local Guarani tongue where Ambare meant 'the land of shadows'.

Fernando de la Mora had formerly been known as Zavala Cur, later taking the name of a leading figure in getting independence from Spain.

Limpio was founded on February 2nd 1785 by Friar Luis de Bolanos as San Jose de los Campos Limpios de Tapua. Earlier it had been Campos Limpio de Tapu'a 'the clean fields of Tapu'a'.

Pedro Juan Caballero is named after the man who was a leading figure in gaining Paraguayan independence from Spain.

Villa Elisa migrants to this area in the late 19th century came under the leadership of the Dane Emilion Johansen. He named it Colonia Elisa to honour his wife, Ms Elisa Von Poleski.

Coronel Oviedo was founded as Nuestra Senora del Rosario de Ajos or 'Our Lady of the Rosary of Garlic' (for garlic was an important local cash crop). In 1931 the present name was adopted to honour Coronel Florentin Oviedo, a hero of the War of Triple Alliance.

Hernandarias was named to honour Hernando Arias de Saavedra, whose sole claim to fame is as the first governor in South America to be born in the Americas. Of much greater interest is the former name, for Tacuru Pucu translates as 'long ant place'.

Presidente Franco, or Manuel Franco, served as president of Uruguay from 15 August 1916 to 5 June 1919, with the place named in his honour in 1918.

Itaugua is one of the few place names to retain its indigenous original. It comes from the local river, the Ytay, and is from ita meaning 'stone' and the suffix gua 'belonging' and thus 'of the place of stone' describes the location. Itaugua is the name of the district in which the settlement of Ita can be found, the latter sharing an origin with the river name.

Pilar was founded in 1779 by Pedro Melo de Portugal. Originally known as Catedral Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar, in English 'the Basillica of Our Lady of the Pillar'.

Villa Hayes was named to honour Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States. Previously it was known as the City of the Five Names.

Minga Guaza comes from two local words, where Quechua minga 'co-operative work (for improvement)' and the Guarani guasu 'big' suggest a meaning of 'big work in the community'.

Ayolas was named after Juan de Ayolas, right hand man of the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza. Together they explored the region in 1534 with a view to settlement.

Villeta, literally 'the great villa', is a later name for a settlement named to honour King Felipe II when named San Felipe de Borbon del Valle del Bastan en los Compos del Guarnipitan or, if you really need the English version, Saint Philip of Bourbon of the Valley of Bastan in the Fields of Guarnipitan.

Aregua was named by the indigenous peoples, the Mbya Guarani, who spoke of this part of their region as Aregua 'those from above'.

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

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