Sunday, 15 March 2020

Somalia 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 Somalian cities.

Bur Salah, formerly known as Burar, is named after Saalax Jaamac, owner of a water pool in the town's centre.

Burtinle is named after the hill which largely surrounds it. This hill, known as Buurta Ninle, has a name meaning 'hairy hill' and named for the desert scrub growing here.

Damala comes from the Somali word meaning 'acacia woodland'.

Galinsoor combines two Somali words: gelin is 'half of the day' and therefore either morning or afternoon, or day or night, depending on context. However, here the addition of the element soor or 'hosting', enables us to see this was known as a stopover, where travellers would be accommodated for the night.

Hargeisa is thought to be derived from its use as a watering stop for nomadic herders en route to Harar. If indeed harar as-sagir is the origin and meaning as 'little Harar', itself named for its early occupation by the Harari people - the calling it Gey or 'the city' and which also gave them their alternative name of Geyusu 'people of the city'.

Hingalol comes from the Somali tongue where hin 'densely', combines with Galol, the local name for the acacia tree'.

Laag is a Germanic name, probably from loga meaning 'field'.

Luuq is from the Somali language and means 'alley', a reference to the location almost surrounded by a river and just the 'alley' as a land bridge.

Mogadishu is the capital city, probably taking its name from the Somali Muuq Disho 'sight killer'.

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

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