Sunday, 23 February 2020

Slovakia 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 Slovakian cities.

Bratislava has only been known as such since 1919, this taken from an earlier name meaning 'Braslav's castle', although whether these were on the same site is uncertain. Prior to 1919 the city was known by its German name of Pressburg and its Hungarian name of Pozsony, the Slovak name of Presporok and the Czech name of Prespurk - all referring to the fortification and a personal name.

Kosice comes from the Slavic personal name Kos or Kosa with the suffix ice.

Presov is first seen in 1247 as Theutonici de Epuryes which many have attributed to the Hungarian eper or 'strawberry'. But this has recently been questioned and a suggestion of a personal name, either Pres or Presa has now proven more popular.

Zilina is from the Slavic or Slovak zial meaning 'a vein' and referring to the flow of the river or rivers..

Banska Bystrica has two roots: Banska from the Slovak bana meaning 'mine' and Bystrica from Slavic bystrica or 'swift stream'.

Nitra takes its name from the river, itself from Proto-Indo-European and meaning probably meaning 'to cut', in the sense of referring to its course.

Trnava is another river name, the Trnava creek is derived from Old Slavic trn or 'thornbush', these found along the riverbanks.

Trencin is similar to the above, here the Slavic refers to the 'blackthorn'.

Prieidza is likely from a personal name such as Previd and thus 'Previd's village'.

Zvolen is from Slavic and means 'the chosen one, splendid, excellent', depending on the context. However, this does not explain why it would have been described as such.

Spisska Nova Ves is a merging of two settlements: the older the Slavic Iglov from igla 'needle' together with the more recent settlement of German colonists and hence Nova Ves or 'new village'.

Komarno is of Slavic or Latin origin, where the former would give komar no refers to 'the place of mosquitoes' and the latter commercium and still easily seen as 'trade centre'.

Humenne is another from the Slavic tongue, where hummo means 'backyard'.

Levice comes from an Old Slavic name where leva means 'the left one', and it does stand on the left bank of the Hron river. Incidentally, to discover which is the left bank, you simply face downstream and on the left is ......

Hron is a river name from a Germanic tongue, the name earlier being Granahua and from gran 'spruce' and ahua 'water'.

Bardejov has almost as many stories told about its origin as letters in the name. Perhaps this is from the Hungarian bard 'chopper, hatchet' and refers to clearing the area when it was founded; or maybe Hungarian Barfta 'chopping trees'; or is it a personal name Bardej; or the name Barduj; or ......

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

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