Tuesday, 6 July 2021

What on Earth (or Saturn)?

Or not on Earth as the case may be. I was looking at the names of our planet in languages other than English. It came as something of a disappointment to discover they were mostly translations of 'earth' in the sense of 'soil, dirt'.

So, I decided to look elsewhere in the heavens and see what names other languages had given to the remaining seven planets in orbit around our sun. Below is the language, its name and, where possible, the translation. Many nations simply use the same name, albeit with the phonetic spelling reflecting local pronunciation. As these clearly come from the same source as the English names, I have concentrated on the alternatives and this time the planet Saturn.


Bengali - Sani - is from the Sanskrit and means 'slow moving'.

Farsi - Kayvon - means 'lofty', although how the planet appeared any higher in the sky than others is unclear.

Greek - Kronos - is from the Greek for 'time'.

Hebrew - fabtaj - 'seventh / Saturday / resting star'

Japan - Saniscara - another from the Sanskrit for 'slow moving'.

Kazakhstan - Qonyrqai - has its root in common with the Greek and thus shares its meaning of 'time'.

Korean - Toseong - 'Star of soil'.

Malayalam - Shani - again the Sanskrit 'slow moving'.

Mandarin Chinese - 'the soil planet'

Mongolia - sancir - as with the Japanese name 'slow moving'.

Sumerian - Ninurta - the god of war and hunting

Uzbek - Zuhal - 'one that lingers' and another 'slow' reference.

Note the spellings and characters used are English, so don't write to me pointing missing umlauts, accents, etc. or how I should have used a different alphabet.

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