Sunday, 20 October 2019

Peru 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 Peru's cities.

Lima had been known as Limaq which, in the Quecha tongue then spoken in this area, meant 'the talker' or perhaps 'the speaker'. This referred to a famous oracle destroyed by the Spanish but not forgotten by the locals. There is little weight given to the idea the name comes from the Spanish for 'lime'. The same is true of the Lima River, not named for being 'the talking river' but an example of back-formation from the place name.

Arequipa has long been said to come from a conversation between the Inca leader Mayta Capac and the people. The latter wished to remain in the valley they had just reached and were told Ari qhipay or 'yes, stay'. Alternatively the story speaks of the Europeans arrival and, when they asked for the name of the country around there, were misunderstood and thought to be asking for permission to sit, with the same answer. A third possibility is the Aymara phrase qhipaya ari or 'behind the peak' and referring to the nearby volcano.

Chiclayo has several explanations, most often a local man who once transported plaster between nearby cities'. Another idea gives this as from the Mochican language meaning 'green that hangs', a reference to the fruit that frows here. Or we also find the Moche language, where the word cheqta refers to 'the property of'.

Piura is from the Quechuan word pirhua meaning 'abundance' - presumably referring to the vegetation.

Iquitos is a city named by the Spanish, it is also their name for the indigenous people.

Juliaca takes its name from the Quechua words xullaskca kaipi meaning 'it had drizzled' and a reference to when Inca troops arrived here, how they had noticed the weather. Perhaps a little more credible is shulla qaqa or 'roquedal dew' and a description of the small pieces of quartz in the hills which, it may be suggested, resemble early morning dew.

Cajamarca is known as kasha marka in the Quechua language and describes 'the town of thorns'.

Pucallpa or puka allpa in Quechua describes the soil as it means 'red dirt'.

Ayacucho comes from Quechua aya kuchu or 'death corner' to remember the casualties of the battle fought here in 1825.

Chincha comes from the Quechua word chincay or 'ocelot' as these people worshipped a deity in the form of an ocelot.

Huaraz is another from the local Quechua language, where waraq means 'dawn'.

Tumbes is named after the people who lived here prior to the Inca rule, the Tumpis's settlement had a population of around 175,000.

Huaral either comes from the leader here in the 16th century, one Martin Guaral Paico, or from the Aymara word of unknown meaning.

Andahuaylas is from that Quechua language again, here anta waylla describes the 'copper meadow'.

Abancay is a corruption of the Quechua amankay or 'lily'.

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


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