We tried to translate this book from Russian into English, so as not to lose the semantic subtleties of the content. The book is written in Russian, but it could also be written in any other language, because all the languages of the planet grew out of one, common language, which is most clearly visible in the naming of the area or in toponyms.
Thousands years ago, distant ancestors marked their places of stay with sounds that accompanied their existence and evoked certain associations.
For example, when they drank from reservoirs, the sound “ms” appeared. In their minds this sound corresponded to the ability to quench the thirst, so the places where it could be done began named with this sound. So there were a large number of names of reservoirs or places close to the water that include this protoroot: the Moscow River, the Miass River, the Mississippi River, the Thames River, Mesopotamia, Lake Michigan, the city of Mosul, the Mezima River and hundreds of others.
Gradually, the sound “m” (the sound of food), which appears when mammals feed, disappeared from some names; only the sound “s” remained, the sound of flowing water, which retains its meaning “water” in different languages and included in the names of many other reservoirs\toponyms: Sudan, the Sura river, lake Issyk-Kul, the Seine river, the Seym river, the Svir river, the Siya river, the Sista river and others.
In some peoples, the sound “s” eventually “hissed”, so the names with hissing sounds appeared: the Chagra river, the Chaya river, lake Michigan, the Shari river, the Shaiga river, the Zhekan river and the ancient sickle became shekel.
Even more obviously protoroots are visible in the names of the mountains. If a person raises his head and pronounces some sounds simultaneously, the vowels – first of all the sound “a” – come out unhindered. But as soon as the trachea is bent, cutting off the air, there is the sound of “y” (“i”). From this movement of the head, two ancient protoroots were formed: “ay” is the movement up and “ya” is the movement down. Or simply: “ay” is at the top, “ya” is from top to bottom. So the sound “ay” entered the names of a large number of mountain peaks: Ay-Petri, Ay-Foka, Ay-Vita, Aykuayvenchorr, Aino, Aizu, Nantai, Ayoava, Sinai, Ohio, Altai and hundreds of others. The water frozen on the mountain tops became known as “ice” and the whiteness of the mountain slopes is “white” colour.
In turn, in the name of mountains that have both ascents and descents, you can find both protoroots at the same time: Sayan, Aya, Yokohama and others. Clearly protoroots can be seen and heard in the Japanese hieroglyph (山), which has the meaning “mountain” but which is pronounced as “Yama”, where we can not only hear, but also see the well – known protoroots “ay” and “ya” – up and down. The familiar words also speak about the downward movement: “yakor” (anchor) “yasno” (clear), “yama” (hole\pit), “Yaga” (a witch in Russian Folklore), “yagnyonok” (lamb), “yabeda” (sneak). In the vast majority of cases, the meaning of protoroots fully corresponds to the features of the landscape and keeps these secrets for many centuries.
I hope that you will be interested in learning the secret of the origin of not only ancient place names: Troy, Dardanelles, Caledonia, Baikal, London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Washington and hundreds of others but also the meaning of the simplest words: ogon’ (fire), otets (father), Russkiy (Russian), pravda (truth), igemon (hegemon), man`yak (maniac) and others.
Enjoy this book.
To the Descendants of Sisyphus
(instead of a Preface)
My ancestors went back to the ancient Greeks, who left mankind an incredibly rich gallery of symbolic meaning and intimate knowledge of mythological images. They inherited knowledge from the depths of centuries and created a fascinating and confusing world of heroes and gods. One of them was Sisyphus, the founder and king of Corinth, who tried to cheat death, for which he was condemned to the severe punishment by the gods — always lifting a heavy stone up the mountain. As soon as he reached the top, the stone would fall under its weight, and poor Sisyphus would come back for it and roll it up the mountain again and again. It became a symbol of painful but useless meaningless and fruitless labour and in the twentieth century French existentialists was raised to the banner of the absurdity of human existence.
Everything is so obvious, but it is far from true. Only one intuition about the meaninglessness of “Sisyphean labour” goes back to the ancient “semantic” understanding of the myth of Sisyphus. The stone that he rolled up the mountain is actually the stone of knowledge. We reach extreme heights with the age, but everything is reset with our departure. There is only a stone at the foot of the mountain, waiting for the touch of new and young hands. The ancients understood the mechanisms of knowledge transfer well and they knew the main “enemy”—the loss of continuity, the absence of someone who will pick up the baton. No one learns from other people’s mistakes, preferring to make their own, repeatedly multiplying and distorting the original meanings.
Since ancient times, people have tried to put knowledge in a variety of forms: in words, fairy tales, legends, metaphors, hoping that these tips will help understanding and knowledge of the world. But the descendants of the ancient perceived “signals” as a fun puzzle, and were often understood literally, without hidden meaning. Abraham Maslow’s famous dictum that civilization is a form of struggle against entropy, the loss of cultural heritage, explains the difficulties that humanity has faced in passing on knowledge to the next generation best of all. This also applied to language — the main means of communication, the most subtle tool for transmitting information, with the slightest error of which meanings could be lost, changed and disappear.
The easiest way of it can be seen in the etymology, and especially in the interpretation of place names. This is an amazing legacy left to us in the names of localities — a legacy visible, audible, easy to understand and always rough to the touch. Thousands and thousands of years ago, our ancestors gave names to the places where they lived. The laws of the language development began with these names, with the primal concepts that I tried to discover during my life in the course of independent searches. I could be wrong in some ways, but I could not resist the temptation to “roll” this “toponymic boulder” on the mountain of knowledge. I hope you will be interested.
The soft sound “l’” or where does a hobby start?
Once in 1971, I returned from the army and got a job at Chelyabinsk television. I met a TV journalist, Samuel Gershuni. We went to the city of Zlatoust to shoot a video about the local watch factory. We lived in a hotel and spent long evenings talking about various topics. Samuel Matveyevich was a sociable man who liked to talk about his front life.
But one day we talked about his jewishness, biblical stories, and the languages which the ancient Jews spoken. It was the moment then I heard his explanation of the soft sound “el’”. We talked about the meaning of the word “Israel”, and Samuel Matveyevich explained that the soft sound “el’” means “God”, and the words “Israel’”, “Samuel’”, “Ariel’” are the names of various jewish tribes. For example, Israel is the God of the “Izra” tribe, and Michael is the God of the “Micah” tribe. Next we found words from other languages: for example, El’ Greco, El`brus, Hel`ius, Ol`ympus. My relatives — first of all my father and cousins — were Crimean Greeks and always emphasized that they were El`liny (Hellenes) And this name also begins with “el’”.
We had neither dictionaries at hand, nor the Internet to look at. So we didn’t get far that night, but the desire to find out what the Hellenes and Israel had in common came just then. I promised Samuel Matveevich that I would go to the library when I returned to Chelyabinsk. He smiled slyly and said that the answer should be found in the ancient jewish books, and in the Soviet Union they will not be found. However, I went to our public library and read all weekend. Thus, my fascination with etymology began.
The first discovery of the secret of the sound “el’” I made accidentally. Once I saw a little girl who was eating a chocolate bar. The chocolate was melting in her mouth, dripping on her bib, and she was laughing, trying to say something, and I distinctly heard that soft sound “el’”. I tried to collect my own saliva, but I couldn’t make the “el’” sound. Then I realized that it is not important the amount of saliva for this sound, but its release is. I filled my mouth with chocolate and waited for my mouth to drool, but it didn’t work either. Then the next day I ate nothing, drank only water, and, being hungry, put the chocolate back in my mouth. And the sound “el’ " took place!
This small discovery led me to believe that the first sounds that a person began to utter were related to his physiology. The state of pleasure, in which saliva is released and the sound “el’” appears, is remembered, fixed in memory or at the genetic level, and in the future, people transmitted the pleasure of life with this sound. Soft sound “el’” is a natural sound that was formed involuntarily, without meaning, expressing pleasant moments of eating.
So it was remembered once and the soft sound “el’” became “stronger, “matured” in languages and sounded like our usual “l”, although the meaning of pleasure, enjoyment remained for it. On its prehistoric “base” appeared a huge number of words, the meaning of which can somehow be reduced to the “common denominator”— joy, pleasure, delight, euphoria. What words could form this sound, this protoroot? Probably, the word “lubov” (love) comes to mind immediately— and quite justifiably! Laska (caress), ulybka (smile), lest’ (flattery), l`zya (permission), legko (easy), lizat’ (to lick), l`nut’ (to cling)—all go back to pleasure and delight. Including when the image of the highest bliss discloses a person. Hence the concept of divinity in different languages: this is Helios, and the Bible, and Israel, and Arabic word Allah, where the sound “l’” has not lost its softness.
It became clear to me that the soft sound “el’” is an involuntary sound, which was born in the depths of human feelings. And the usual “l” is the sound is already meaningful, introduced into the ancient communication system. This meaningful sound formed the protoroot, which combined with other sounds to create words. Knowing the semantic source, it is easy to understand how later meanings appeared.
The soft sound of “l’”, of course, was not the only one that participated in the multi-faceted “meaning-making”. But after that, it was easier for me to understand how other meaningful sounds developed.
Feelings, sounds and protoroots
Language was born out of feelings and meanings. The sense organs gave a person a multi-colored palette of such creative associations. “Everyone hears how he or she breathes”—it is not surprising that a number protoroots originated from the breath sounds. Even in the very word “dykhanie” (breath) this ancient semantic intuition remains. Really, what do we hear when we breathe? The natural, independent of our will, breathing sound is the sound “kh”, combined with various vowel sounds:" kha”, ” kho”, ” khe”, ” khi”, ” akh”, ” okh”, “ukh”. The sound “kh” has become a language protoroot with common meanings related to breathing.
Later, the sounds of breathing became associated with the soul of a person. Breathing means that you are alive. If he\she doesn’t breathe it means that his\her soul has left. For example, when I was a child, my mother would often tell me when she was buttoning the top buttons of my clothes: “You are open-hearted.” And I knew that “soul” is my breathed chest. And to give up the ghost means to lose the “kho”, the air. You can easily remember the words formed by the simplest sounds of breathing: “dykho” (“trachea”), “tikho” (quiet), “ukho” (ear), “ekho” (echo), “likho” (evil\trouble). Even God—“bhoga”—grants breath. This group includes interjections: “akh”, “okh”, ” ukh”, “ekh”. Even the particle “ish” has its physiological origin in the respiratory.
But everything evolves and in the process of evolution protoroots also found new meanings. There is a simple example. At rest, a person breathes easily, freely: inhale and then exhale. Sounds are simple, ordinary. And if a person moves for a long time, and even uphill, and even with the luggage, and even in the “formation” of his fellow tribesmen, who set a certain rhythm — what happens to the breath? There’s not enough air. Breathing becomes “heavy”. And the sounds of breathing also change — instead of a light sound “kh”, you can already hear a heavy, slightly “hoarse” combination of sounds “kh” and “g”.
Let’s complicate the situation. Imagine that our ancient ancestors were walking along the mountains and valleys, and suddenly the path ends — where must they go next? Tired and out of breath, people started looking around and presumably showing each other where to go. What sounds would they use to support their gestures? It is clear — sounds of “heavy” and “open” breathing, with sound “ga” at the base. This sound, mixed with hoarseness and fatigue, received the meaning of way\path, movement and direction.
Protoroot “ga” “grows” everywhere with a variety of pronunciation. On the map of our planet you will find hundreds and hundreds of names formed by this protogoot in the meaning of “way”: Gava, Hanover, Hamburg, Kaluga, Prague, Go, Volga, Riga, Malaga and hundreds of others. In Russian, the first thing that comes to mind is the word “doroga” (road). In addition to it, there are a variety of options: “gat’” (swamp road), “gatit’” (build a road through a swamp, a swampy place), “gay” (pave the way through the forest), “poganyy” (nasty\bad (what is lying along the road)) and even “gad” (reptile). The words formed by this protoroot can be found in both English and German: “go”, “gehen” (to go) and others.
However, the evolution of breath sounds did not end with the meaning of “way” or “direction”. Gradually, the sound “ga” became associated with those who lead the way, with those who go ahead — and therefore know where to go. The leading becomes the knowing. Next comes a reinterpretation of protoroot — the basis remains the same, but the pronunciation from the sounds “kh” and “g” becomes closer to the consonant “k”. And there are new diverse meanings of this sound: “leading”, “knowing”, “main”, “smart”, “thinking”. Although these meanings may seem varied at first glance, they all indicate the ability to think. So, the name of the Chinese game “Go” combines several meanings of this sound. At first I was surprised at the speculative nature of my conclusions, but than I immersed in this speculation more, that I understood my rightness again and again.
What words were formed with protoroot “ka” in its various shades? First of all, they touched the head, which is not only to wear a hat (by the way, this is also reflected in the words). For example, “kapusta” (cabbage)—in Russian it means “empty head”, “kaun” (melon), “kachan” (head of cabbage), “kalgan” (head), “kapa” (kind of hat), “kapyushon” (hood), “kepka” (cap) and others. The words “khalif” (the khalif), “kagan” (a title of imperial rank in the Turkic and Mongolic languages), “kasta” (caste) and the Capitol have the same protoroot. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, you can find the same root word “kapata”, which has the meaning “trick”, “deception”, but comes from the same meaning: “the ability to think.” And in the maloyanisol dialect of my ancestors has a word “gaka”, which means “big brother”. How could such word appear? —I think that this is “the first-born”, “going ahead”. And there are a lot of such interesting phenomena in the language.
There is another meaning derived from the sounds of breathing — the Greek word “ego” (εγώ), which translates as “I”. In the older maloyanisol dialect, the word “I” sounds simpler— “go”. Moreover, my grandmother did not pronounce a solid “go”, but again mixed sounds “g” and “kh”, closer to “kho”. The “e” sound in the Greek word “ego” is the sound of “belonging”. Literally, it means “this is me.” If we compare the Greek “ego” and the Russian word “ekho” (echo), it will be clear that it is the same. The echo is a returning sound of my voice, “this is me.”
All the basic sounds and protoroots associated with human physiology and its primary needs. You don’t have to go far — just remember your basic needs. What is the most important thing for a person? It needs air to breathe, it needs food to keep from starving, and it needs water. In addition, he\she needs to continue the family line, needs security, a roof over head, and other needs that are reflected in the language. Therefore, it is objective that besides the sounds of breathing, the first roles in the meaning-making had the “sounds of food”.
Man is a mammalian creature, breastfed. This is why, from infancy, from unconscious memory, we reproduce this deep key sound of the compressed lips —“m” and the following sound of the opening lips—“ma”. In almost all languages the word “mama” (mother) includes this ancient, imbibed with mother’s milk, protoroot. But with feeding, the child uses not only the lips but also the tongue. The tongue presses the nipple of the breast to the palate, and the milk falls on the taste buds of the child’s tongue under pressure. What sound is formed when the tongue pressed to the roof of the mouth? It is a sound “n”. In some languages this sound forms the word “nana” with the meaning “mother”. Nurses are traditionally called “nyanyas” (wet-nurses). And the famous “nyam-nyam” (yum-yum) is just a fusion of two feeding sounds “n” and “m”. By the way, when it is especially delicious, children like to click their tongue and pronounce the famous children’s word “naka”, which means “delicious”. In English this word sounds a little different: “nice”. Among the Greeks, “nostimo” (νόστιμο), although it has the same meaning “nice”.
However, there was not always enough food. Sometimes it was necessary to eat anything spoiled or fermented fruit or carrion. How does the body react to harmful food? It rejects it. And what is the sound produced while vomiting? The sound is complex: both growling and plaintive. Over time, the sound formed is one of the oldest protoroot “mr” with meaning “mertvyy” (dead).
There are a huge number of words with this root in the world. In Russian, this word is “smert’” (death) with all its derivatives: “smrad” (stench), “merzost’” (abomination) and others. This is the word “moroz” (frost) that kills all living things. This is the “more” (sea), the famous “mertvaya voda” (dead water), which is not suitable for drinking, but has nevertheless healing properties, and has retained its name in Russian folk tales about “living” water and “dead” water. This is the Greek God of dreams “Morpheus” and even the science “morfologiya” (morphology). Surprisingly, the word “mir” (peace) is also formed by this protoroot. But the interpretation of this word is a little creepy: mir is when everyone is killed, all are dead, there is no one to fight and the war ends.
The sounds of the food include protoroots “gr”, “kr”, “hr”. Their meaning goes back to the concept of “krepkiy” (strong)—this is the sound of “krosheniya” (crumbling), “khrusta” (crunching). It appeared when a person had to chew bones, or sand and stones enter into his mouth with food. And the sand khrustel (crunched), and the teeth “kroshilis’” (crumbled)! Next to them growling sounds of aggression appear. Growling, as a rule, was accompanied by a demonstration of teeth, and the sound warned that the enemy will stratch. Hence the whole galaxy of “rvanyh” (torn) words: “rychat’” (to growl), “ristat’” (to fight), “rvat’” (to tear), “rubit’” (to hack), “rezat’” (to cut), “rana” (wound).
Another palette of protoroots formed the sounds of drinking. In ancient times, there were no glasses and mugs, so our ancestors drank either from reservoirs, or, to get running water into the palm of their hand, they drew it in, as sometimes children or tourists do. What kind of sound is produced by such a drink? Only the sound of “ms”. “M” is the sound of food, but in this case it is liquid food, the consumption of which is accompanied by a “whistling” sound — the sound “s”. It formed protoroot with the meaning “drinking water”. It can be found everywhere in the names of localities, where water is suitable for drinking. There are a lot of such toponyms\place names on the planet — I found more than three hundred of them on the map, although I assume that there are many more. This is our Moskva reka (Moscow river), the Mississippi, the “Temza” (the Thames), and lake Michigan. This root has been preserved in various languages — for example, in Japanese, where there is still the word “mizi” with the meaning “water” and there is the word “mizimi” with the meaning “lake”.
Like all protoroots, “the sounds of drinking” too, lived their own lives, grew up and changed. So, in a number of languages, the sound of closed lips, the sound of eating “m” disappeared, and only the whistling “s” remained. For example, in the Turkic languages “su” means water. The English word “sea” is similar. And somewhere the whistling “s” evolved into hissing sounds.
The sounds of drinking can also include the sound of slurp in thick, hot and delicious food. Imagine that you have made soup, but instead of eating it with a spoon, you try to drink it directly from the pot. What kind of sound is produced? It is mixed sound “khl’”. Many words were formed from this sound: “khl`ebat’” (to slurp), “khl`upat’” (to slurp), “khl`eb” (bread), “khal`va” (halva), “kha`lyava” (freebie), and even “khl`yabi nebesnye” (“heavenly bread or slush”), which are heard in the name of the city where I have lived all my life and which I love— Chelyabinsk…
“Unnecessary knowledge” or two words about entropy
Why am I telling it for you? I want that it will be clear: there are no meaningless words or meaningless sounds in the world. Words didn’t fall from the sky. When the first sounds appeared, they already had some meaning, carried a semantic load. In other words, all the ancient phonemes were already morphemes in their own way. This semantic load has not disappeared — we just stopped noticing it. But even in those words that we borrow from other languages, when parsing it turns out that these words have returned to us like a boomerang, preserving their root basis, their sound history, which goes back to ancient times. And if you want to learn and to understand words, you need to be able to look into this story.
What do we know from the history of the language? I remind it very briefly. We know that Russian language belongs to the Indo-European language group. The concept of “Indo-Europeans” was formed relatively recently, when India was colonized. A little later, the English philologist William Jones, studying Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language, and comparing it with European languages, was one of the first to suggest that before the appearance of all these languages there was one, common to them, more ancient, some proto-Indo-European language. And then scientists came to the conclusion that there were even older languages, so-called Nostratic languages, common not only to Indo-Europeans, but also to other language groups.
But this is only the top layer of the story. Russian scientist Svetlana Burlak experimentally proves that even ants have their own language, and they are able to exchange information. The development of language is directly related to the evolution of man with the development of his brain, improving from simple to complex. But if we automatically inherit the brain with all its potential from our parents, from nature, then it is impossible to inherit knowledge. Knowledge is accumulated, but not inherited. I did not complain for nothing that the Greeks had lost the meaning of the metaphor of the myth of Sisyphus. For every new inhabitant of the planet, civilization begins with a void, from scratch. Every new inhabitant of the planet has to repass all the way that humanity has passed for hundreds, thousands and even millions years.
Continuity is very important here. Any violation of continuity in the transmission of knowledge leads to its distortion, loss, degradation, degeneration and even death. This can also be observed in the animal world especially when people try to return to the wild, for example, chicks who have lost their parents, and even teach them to fly on a hang glider. It’s much more complicated for a human. Neurolinguists believe that the mechanism of thinking in humans is triggered by speech sounds. Just those sounds of speech that we are considering and that accompanied it throughout its evolution. What does “launch” mean? Let’s assume that some sounds inherent in the life of the baby and its environment are installed on empty brain cells, after which the simplest cause-and-effect relationships are established between the sensations of the baby and the sounds. Gradually, these connections become more complex. This is very similar to installing an operating system on a computer, where consistency is also important.
Knowledge from simple to complex was passed down over many generations — first within the herd, within the pack, within the family. Then the way changed, subordinating the structure of knowledge: they improved. Science appeared, knowledge was multiplied and systematized. Once, about forty years ago, I heard the phrase “unnecessary knowledge” from a young aspiring scientist-teacher. The accumulated knowledge began to be sifted through the sieve of demand. As a result, all this resulted in a kind of standard cultural transmission, which both teachers and parents are still experimenting with. And since language is the main tool for knowledge transfer, any change in language related to its development also affected the continuity of knowledge transfer.
I give an example. Many of us studied from the famous textbook of the Russian language “Phonetics and morphology” by the authors Barkhudarov and Kryuchkov. Phonetics studies phonemes — speech sounds, morphology studies the structure of words — morphemes, roots and affixes. And the word “morfema” (morpheme) comes from the Greek word “morfa” (morph). Despite the fact that the Greek word “morph” has already changed significantly relative to the known protoroot “mr” or proto-Indo-European “mr-ti”—mertviy, umirat’ (dead, to die), it retains the root basis. That is, “morfa” (morth) is something dead, frozen and motionless.
Another thing is the Latin word “forma” (form) borrowed from the Greek. Although it retained the main phonemes and consonance with the word “morfa” (morph), but the root “mr” was changed, lost. Therefore, the word “forma” has become an abstract set of sounds with the same shade of dead and frozen, but the root basis has been lost. There was an interruption of continuity. It is similar to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”: “The time is out of joint…”
Recently, on the website of the famous economist Mikhail Khazin, I read an article by Professor Vladimir Arnold, where he shared his experience of teaching mathematics in France. In the article, he complained about the growing number of students who simply remember information without understanding its essence. This is akin to our rote learning. We also had virtuosos at school who could memorize entire paragraphs — and not just memorize them, but even compile stories from them. Usually these virtuosos were admitted to the Humanities, where the lack of understanding can be compensated by memorizing. But this was about mathematics and eloquence can’t buy it. That’s why the Professor sounded the alarm.
There has always been a problem in the transmission of content and its perception. When I was a student at a Soviet school, at a Soviet Institute, the teachers constantly told us: “Try to understand the meaning, the content, do not get carried away with the form.” There was even a literary saying that the form is only a slave designed to serve the content.
We often underestimate what they are trying to convey to us. For example, etymology is considered to be a kind of entertainment, an educational quiz, although it is one of those sciences that can teach people to think by returning to the protolanguage and discovering “old new meanings”.
Russian language plays a special role. There are scientists who suggest that all the languages of the planet are descended from the Russian language. It is possible that the Russian language has been preserved better than other languages relative to the primordial language of mankind. But to say that all languages came from Russian is, of course, an ironic exaggeration. All languages have ancient roots. If, as geneticists believe, humanity comes from a single family, then we can assume that the origins of all languages are also hidden in the language of this ancient ancestral community. A well-known linguist Alexander Dragunkin, who is a professional English language learner, believes that for a better understanding of the language, you need to know Russian, which is a kind of key to the meanings of English words. I absolutely agree with it. And I believe that the same applies to the Greek language and to other language groups. Our language has preserved its attachment to its natural origin as much as possible, and its phonetic series has remained largely faithful to the oldest protoroots. We just need to get back to them.
Get to the truth
Any work requires a reliable tool — even if we decide to make a mental journey to the language’s origins. The science of etymology seems to have been created in order to restore broken connections in the meanings of words. It is designed to look inside the form, “in-form” about the origin and meaning of the word, to tell about its metamorphoses — what happened to this word once and what is happening to it now.
The word “etymology” (ττυμολογία) is a Greek word. It consists of two words: “etymon” (ττυμον) is the “truth” and “logos” (λόγος)is “to speak”. It was invented by ancient philosophers, who already understood perfectly well that without knowledge of the true meaning of the word, it is impossible to know the truth.
The first sound “e” indicates some kind of affiliation. In the words “ego” and “ekho” (echo), it explains that it is about the person. In the word “eco” is about something what surrounds person, about his\her home, environment. Behind the word “etika” (ethics) lies a reasonable, meaningful human activity. Even the word “efir” (ether) has its own identity — literally, “belonging to a hole” filled with something invisible, but necessarily all-encompassing and all-pervading. The words “Hellenic” and “Hellas” are about places that belong to my favorite Greeks, where “lada” is in the same semantic field as the Russian “lad” (harmony).
In the word “etymon” (the meaning of the word), the protoroot “mon” is the key, which means that truth is unique and “monarchical”, as well as harmony. “Mon” is the only one who brings food, who is the “master of offspring”, and any other “mn” can not be. These are the harsh conditions of existence. This protoroot has generated a lot of words, which emphasize the separateness, uniqueness, exclusivity. It is sound in the words “monakh” (monk) and “monarkh” (monarch), in the names Solomon and Suleyman; it can be found in the word “ataman” (father, senior man) and in the word “mongol” (mon-Ka-le, nomad).
The brilliant Russian conductor Teodor Curentzis once said that harmony is a point. How right he is! Harmony is the point, the unity, of which the first biblical commandment speaks. So “etymon” is a unified understanding of our actions, our existence. This is the truth.
The second part of the word “etymology” goes back to the biblical “logos” (word). Academician Dmitry Likhachev has repeatedly warned that we understand or interpret some ancient texts incorrectly. In his opinion, the translation of the gospel text: “In the beginning was “logos” (word\“slovo”)—incorrectly conveys the meaning of the word “logos”. In the ancient Greek Dictionary of Joseph Dvornitsky, “logos” has 34 different “nests of meanings”. In our reading, this word goes back to three ancient roots: “lo”, “kho” and “s”. The first has the meaning “beloved”, the second is the sound of breathing-means “dusha” (soul), and the third means “sacred water”. What meaning could these sounds have acquired over the centuries? We can agree with academician Likhachev that we are talking about what distinguishes man from the animal world — about the ability to think.
However, Likhachev could be wrong because as the great Russian poet Fyodor Tyutchev said: “A spoken thought is a lie.” Fedor Ivanovich knew perfectly well that the ancient Greek word “legu” is translated as “to speak”, but in Russian it is interpreted quite differently. Still, let’s focus on what is close to us. “Etymology” is the desire to get to the truth, to understand the meaning and essence of our being. Jesus Christ, pronouncing the Covenant: “Verily I say unto you,” I sincerely wanted people to get rid of lies, deception and delusions. So we are trying to understand and interpret the deep meaning of our language, our speech, our being.
Wisdom teaches that if you are confused and can’t find the right way, go back and start all over again. This “technique” is acceptable even for functional parts of speech: prepositions, conjunctions, particles and interjections. Modern science does not give an unambiguous understanding of how these words occurred and where to look for their “primitive” meanings. My heart tells me that they were born together with the protoroots and have a similar nature.
Let’s start with the simplest — the ancient preposition “k”—in English “to”. If the sounds “kh”, “g “and"k” came from the human breath, then the ancient preposition “k” belongs to this group. Its meaning is close to the meaning of “way”, “direction”—where to go, what we will come to.
The preposition “o”—in English “about”—got its meaning not so much from the pronounced sound, but from the shape of the lips in which it is formed — around, about or about something.
The ancient preposition “u”—in English “near”—, being the sound of breathing, had a special connotation — it attracted the attention of a tribesman to some circumstance, phenomenon, object. It is the sound of moaning, the sound of crying. This is an “invitation” to come closer, to share others in your pain. Its later values are “near” or “around” or otherwise marked “accessory”, the closeness, the belonging to someone, a sense of ownership.
The sound “a”—in English [a] —was always the sound of an open mouth. It can have a variety of meanings. In combination with the sounds of feeding, it forms a combination of “ma” or “na”, indicating the desire to eat, the readiness to take food. A child will never ask to be fed with a combination of “m” and “o” sounds. The same applies to the combination of “na”, which we pronounce when we offer food to the child. By the way, I have repeatedly seen that a child, when holding out his hands to food, also utters a cherished and kind “na”, as opposed to a restrictive “no” (but).
Oddly enough, the ancient preposition “po”—in English “at”—is also formed from the sounds of breathing. “P “is the sound of “puffing”, the sound of “locking” the lips and then releasing the air with a little effort. It’s either puffing or farting. Over time, this sound has grown more complex meanings, has passed through centuries of evolution and now it denotes what surrounds us. The later meaning “along” appeared during numerous human journeys. But at the time when the first sounds and meanings were put into speech, people lived in burrows, and the preposition “po” had a very modest scale.
The preposition “s”—in English “with”—originally went back to the sounds of drinking and the protoroot “ms”. In some languages, the meaning of the words “drink”, “water” has retained the sound “m”, in others—“s”. The Japanese have preserved the root completely. In Hebrew, both the word “sea” and the word “water” retained the “m” sound. In Turkic languages “su” means water, in English—“sea”. However, the question remains, how was the preposition “s” formed with the meaning “together”? Most likely, its origin was connected with the rules of hunting, or some rules of visiting a water hole, or with the ancient instinct of emptying the bladder together.
In general, the combination the sounds of “puffing” and “water” in ancient times formed the root “ps”. It is found in many languages around the world — as well as protoroot “pkh”. Protoroot “pr” is also the sound of “puffing”, but not simple, but aggressive, when something is pierced or flatulence is released too deliberately.
Finally, derived from the breath sounds include protoroot “ku”. If taken literally, it meant “at the head”, “near the head”, something intelligent. Over time, it received several values. For example, the meaning of “ruka” (hand) is “separate from the head” but “with understanding”. From this root came such words as “kulak” (fist), “kul`tya” (stump\an amputated arm), “kul`tura” (culture). And the name Akulina since ancient times had the meaning “inept”, “crooked”, and this is inherent in the name, where the sound “a” is a certain opposite. The protoroot “ru” also has its origins. If “u” is “near”, then the aggressive “r” was intended to separate from this “near”, to become “separate”.
There are a number of prepositions, phonemes, and protoroots those are associated with the action of a person, with his\her contact with the environment, penetration into it. In this regard, the preposition “v”—in English “in\into\inside”—is interesting, it means effort, tension, desire to get inside something. It is directly related to the extraction of insects or small animals from hidden places: whether it is the stem of a plant, or the trunk of a tree, or a mink in the ground. Ancient man needed not only to search for food, but also to be able to extract it by looking inside. This explains why both the Russian word “zhivot” (belly) and the Latin word “vita” have the main sound “v”.
You can make out one of the forms of the preposition “v”—the basic word “vnutri” (inside). The sound “n” indicates the taste of food, protoroots “tr-dr” goes back to “aggressive poking”, or, simply, holed something or pierced. Protoroot “dr” is a “hole where delicious food is hidden” and you need to get to it. The ancient preposition “v” is also echoed by the sound “b”, which is related to it. In many cases, it expresses a kind of “passionate satisfaction”—both from the food taken, and from other pleasures, including sexual ones.
The possibility of penetration and contact brought to life the ancient prepositions “to”—in English “that”—and “do” (in English “this”). The “t” sound was a “poking” sound that indicated obstacles. These obstacles, as in a dense forest, can be around-hitting branches on the cheeks, blocking the way with tree trunks or making you stumble over rocks. Only after looking around and getting used to it, you begin to definitely designate a place with an obstacle—“to” (that) place, “eto” (this) place.
In the preposition “k”, the sonorous sound “d” only strengthens this meaning. “Do” is already a more serious obstacle, restriction, “pillars of Hercules”, beyond which movement is impossible. The meaning of this preposition has been preserved to this day, although it has expanded over the course of evolution, and received different shades, but the original meaning— “limited poking”—has been preserved in it.
Many different derived combinations have appeared from the original forms of these ancient prepositions. Vowel sounds complemented the meanings. The language was filled with various “to”, “ta”, “te”, “tam”, “do”, “da”. The last “da” is particularly interesting. The sound of a poke, an obstacle, coming into contact with an open vowel “a”, completely changes — like Cinderella after the wave of a magic wand. The vowel “a” indicates that the insurmountable obstacle, as it seemed at first, is no longer an obstacle, and the dirty rags have been replaced by a ball gown.
“Da” is consent, the abolition of borders, the abolition of obstacles. You mustn’t, but you can! This protoroot was very common in the everyday life of our forefathers, having the meaning of “consent” in sexual relationships. “Da” is permission for sexual contact. Already in those early days, the meaning of “consent” became associated with the possibility of coitus, that is, access to woman’s sexual organs, and later — with the female sexual organ. This meaning of “consent” to mating and the name of the female sexual organ formed many words that have survived to our time.
Obstacles served as the beginning of the appearance of the “do” and “no” roots, becoming a common mechanism for their appearance. Still, if the “do” meant a restriction, then the protoroot “no”, as opposed to the open “na”, was perceived as an objection or denial.
You can practice word formation using the oldest roots. Let “do” be a limited” poking”, a certain limit, and “no” is an objection, a negation. Combining them, we get the word “dono”— “dno” (bottom) that has been preserved to our time. It turns out that “dno” is the absence of a limit: a person pokes a stick into the water, and the stick does not rest anywhere. There is no stop, no limit. There is no “do”—deep to it. Now this word has the opposite meaning: a certain surface, a stop under water. But in the names of rivers, this combination of ancient prepositions had original meanings. “Dono” is a property of deep rivers that could not be forded. “Dono”—no limit, no bottom, it is deep. This original meaning is preserved in the ancient word “Avaddon” (Abaddon), which basically refers to the “abyss”. There are many toponyms\place names with this “dono” on the planet: the Don (river), Caledonia, Dongola, London, and hundreds of others.
Allowing yourself to experiment, you can “play” with the vowel “a”—the sound of food. If we take the same ancient preposition “do”, and put the protoroot “na” before it, we get the word “nado” (to need\must), which spoils everyone’s mood and forces them to mobilize all their personal resources. What is “nado”? This is a kind of “sweet need”, which is in the way of satisfying the ill-fated “do” is an obstacle. As a result, “nado” became a symbol of overcoming. Given that “na” has the meaning of “something located on top”, we can interpret this word as an action “over the limit”—a very common phenomenon of Russian life, which does not choose long paths, but goes through the mountains…
About the “mountain beginning” say protoroots “ay” [aɪ] and “ya”. They are often found in the names of mountains, ridges or mountain rivers. The combination of the sounds “y” and “a” is formed when we look up. If a person raises his head at the same time when pronouncing any sounds, then the vowels — first of all, the “a” sound come out unhindered. But as soon as the trachea bends, interrupting the air, a “i” sound appears. From this movement of the head two ancient protoroots appeared: “ay” is a movement up, “ya” is a movement down. Or simply: “ay”—at the top, “ya”—from top to the bottom.
There is a beautiful example to understand how words appeared in ancient times — this is the English word “ice”, consisting of two roots: “ay” and “s”. The first signified upward movement, the second is water. Where “above” could there be water? Only in the mountains, on icy snow-capped peaks. Therefore, the word “ice”—even without translation means frozen on the tops of “mountain water”. Protoroot “ay” gave the name of the white color. Where could the ancient people see the white color? Only on the snow-capped peaks of high mountains.
Sorting out such combinations is an exciting, useful, and even unpredictable activity, as we will see more than once. The main thing is to understand that all words have their origin in deep and “common” antiquity, growing out of meaningful sounds that our forefathers exchanged.
Water is a life!
Protoroots in the ancient names of water bodies
If my first significant discovery was the mystery of the origin and main meaning of the sound “l’”, then the next key realization was the idea that language is natural, physiological and firmly woven into the environment. Ancient sounds and ancient toponyms\place names are directly related, so the names of localities are a map written in the primordial language of mankind. These are landmarks of ancient people. Names of the environment appeared long before writing and long before the formation of the languages and peoples known to us. In fact, toponyms\place names are a huge legacy of ancient times, which we own now — and not always consciously.
What have always people needed? The most basic needs are air, water, and food. A person can live without air for several minutes, without water — for several days, and not much longer without food. Therefore, all the oldest names are somehow connected with the sources of life.
However, “to know the taste of water, you need to start drinking”, draw in a handful of spring water and hear the sound “ms”—an ancient root that is easy to find in the names of water bodies. I didn’t even have to go far for examples. In the Chelyabinsk region, there are many hydrological toponyms\place names that go back to this root. First of all, the Miass River. And there is a Lake Misyash (Mises). There is also a swampy place called Mysy (Capes). A little further is Lake Karmyskaly. We found Karamys, Muslyumovo, Lake Machacul, Lake Mysty, Utemis, Lake Mushaykul and derived from this protoroot: the Meseda River, the Lemeza River, and even the Kamyshinka River. The meaning of the word “kamysh” (reed) is understood very simply: “ga” is a way, “ms” is water. So it is “the way to water”. Where does the reeds grow? Such place names scattered across the country: Kamyshly, the city of Kamyshlov, Kamysl, the city of Kamyshin and others. Who “named” the southern Urals? There is a hypothesis that the ancient Aryans migrated to India and the middle East from the Northern territories of modern Russia, and these paths lay through the South Ural lands, which still preserve the “toponymic memory” of the migration of peoples. But I think that the names were given much earlier, when this land was inhabited by very ancient tribes.
Interested to read in the map of Russia: the Mius River, the Meza River, the city of Mezen’, the Mzymsha River, the Mshaga River, the Msta River, Muzga, the Mosha River, the Moshka River, the city of Mozhga, the Masa River. And the city of Moscow, our great capital, which grew up on the banks of the river of the same name, is a toponym\place name that goes back to the protoroot “ms” and once sounded like “Moskov” or “Moskova”. One thing led to another. Several times I rested on the Black Sea coast in the city of Anapa and the city of Gelendzhik, and there, too, I saw some rivers which names are formed by this protoroot. The largest river flows in Novorossiysk — the Tsemes River. In Gelendzhik the main river is the Mezub´ River. There is a river with a funny name near Anapa — the Mozhepsin River. The river is small, so you can understand the meaning of our ancestors laid in the name. It is easy to guess how the name of the Shumay River appeared — literally: “water from the mountains”. And flowing far away from the village Raevskaya the Maskaga River is already a classic of “world” title. The same classic is the name of the Myskhako River, which flows on the Black Sea coast.
Outside of our country, toponyms\place names with the protoroot “ms” are multiplying: in Europe we have the famous Meuse River, the Moselle River flows in the same place, and in England the Thames River flows too. In the Middle East, Lake Mosul is located in the course of the famous Tigris River. The same name is given to the downstream of the city of Mosul. Note that the names the Moselle and the Mosul (Musil’) have the same protoroot: “ms” is “water”, and the soft sound “el’” means “good”, “beloved”, “divine”.
I don’t believe in the coincidences—“divine water” doesn’t just appear. In Libya, there is an ancient city of Al Khoms (Hums). In Syria, there is a large Lake Khoms, on the Bank of which there is the city of the same name is located. And to the South — the Khoms desert, with drying rivers that flowed into the famous Palmyra. How can we explain the origin of these names? All of them have one common meaning—“the way to water”. If you and I wanted to offer the ancient people to go to the water body, how would we say it? There are protoroot “ga”, which designates the way, the movement; also we have our life-giving protoroot “ms”, indicating the water. We would say “ga-ms”, “kho-ms” or “ms-ga”—the way to a place where you can get drunk.
In addition to Lake Mosul and Lake Khoms in the Middle East, there is also the legendary city of Damascus. The name of the ancient capital of Syria contains the same protoroots: “ms” and “ka”, “way to water”. But there is an addition — the name includes the ancient preposition of the location “ta-to”: “ta (eto) -ms-ka”—“that is the way to water”. The city of Damascus is located on the Barada River, where it divides into seven branches: water has always been good in Damascus. If you step back a little and listen to the sound of the names of the Maskaga River and Damascus, then you heard the harmony of the ancient language spoken by our ancestors. According to the same logic, the name of the river “Thames” was formed—“to-ms”—literally: “a place where water is.” I assume that our great rivers Om’ and Tom’ in their names used to have the sound “s”, which was lost later.
Many names with the protoroot “ms” are found in Japan. These are the Mitsuysi, the Misava, and the Matsura rivers. In Japanese, the word “water “sounds like “mizi”, and “water body” is “mizimi”. Our protoroot also lives in America in the names of water bodies and great rivers: the Mississippi and the Missouri. On Lake Ontario is the city of Mississoga, which received its name from the native American tribe of the same name. But how did the Indians become “Mississoga’s”? And what is “so-ga”? The answer is clear…
You can remember the names of other tribes: the Mosquitos, the Muiscas, the Mixtecos, the Tsimshians and others. With all the diversity, these tribes were somehow “tied” to water, to water objects. Listen: the most famous Lake Michigan with its glorious city of Chicago sounds like “ms-mch” (water) and “ga” (way). The ancient preposition “na” (on) in this case can be interpreted in different ways: “on top”, “to be”, “presence” of water, or even its “edibility”, that is, its suitability for drinking. In Russia, this name and its origin are consonant with, for example, the Mshega River. From this group of names, you can remember the Muchka River, which flows in the city of Trabzon, and the same river in the Murmansk region. The basis is still the same: “mch-ga”—the way to water, or “the way of water”. There is also an interesting Russian toponym\place name the city of Mozhga, which can be translated as “water on the road” or simply — a puddle.
Of course, the protoroot of “ms” has changed and evolved. Over time, the “m” sound was lost in some languages, but it seemed to transmit its “memory of water” to whistling and hissing consonants, which gave rise to a lot of meanings. This was the case in the Turkic languages, where the sound “s” formed the word “su” with the meaning “water”. Do I have to list water bodies that formed the ancient protoroot “su”? There are thousands of them. They are scattered all over the planet. At least one place name can be remembered. Where does the Nile, the main river of the ancient world, originate? In the country of Sudan, whose name is assembled from the protoroots “su” (water) and “dono” (depth)—an inexhaustible water source…
Between two rivers
Another word that deserves close attention is Mesopotamia. This toponym\place names well shows how complex words appeared from simple roots. Mesopotamia (Μεσοποταμία) is a Greek word, and it is interesting because it has two protoroots “ms” at once.
The first—“meso” (μέσος)—has the meaning “average”, “middle”. The origin of the meaning is understandable: any body of water, and especially a river, always divides something: the left Bank, the right Bank… The river seems to be “mezhdu” (between). From this understanding came the meaning of the word “mezha” (boundary-line). And the chain of related values can be extended to the present: “mezha”, “meso” (meso, mezzo), the case form “midas” (median, medium and others).
But the second part of the word—“potamos” (ποταμός)—is translated both as “place” and as “river”. In addition protoroot “ms” in the word there are also two ancient protoroots (prepositions): “po"and” ta” are sounds of “puffing” and “poking”. These sounds (prepositions) speak about the place, about the location. Mesopotamia is a place between rivers. These prepositions with different vowels you will find in the names of a huge number of toponyms\place names: the Te-mza River (the Thames), the Te-rek River, the Ti-br River, the Ti-gr River, the city of To-t`ma, the To-bol River, the Po River, the Pola River, the Po-lonka River, the city of Po-ltava, the city of Po-lessk, the city of Po-lotsk, the Po-gara River, the city of Po-dolsk, the city of Bo-lonya, the city of Ba-at, the city of Pa-rizh (Paris), the city of Pa-rma, Lake Ba-aikal, the city of Bo-lkhov, the city of Bu-gulma, the city of Bo-dai-bo, and thousands of others. The same sounds form the Greek word “toponym” (τοπωνύμιο), where “topos”(τόπος) is “place”, and “onoma” (ὄνομα) is “name”. The name of the place! And Russian word “place”— “ms-to”—should be read as a place near water (spring, stream, river, lake). If we add the ancient preposition “po”—“around, along”, we get the word “pomest`e” (estate, possession).
We are dealing with very ancient sounds. Near the city of Washington, for example, the Potomac River flows, whose name is made up of the same ancient prepositions “po” and “to”. Translated from the Algic languages Potomac is a “place”, later: a trading place. People often enough met and traded by the water. I might add that the city of Washington is also located between the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. It is American Mesopotamia or Entre Rios!
I don’t know what impression the native American name Potomac made on the first Spaniards, but I think Columbus’s contemporaries heard quite familiar sounds. In the English version, the sound of the ending “k” is spelled with the Latin letter “c”. Who first recorded it in this version is a mystery. But if you read the letters, that the Potomac should sound “the Potomas”. I’m sure that’s the name of this river should sound like it! The root basis in toponyms\place names is very stable, so no matter how the vowels change, the consonants carry the main meaning. However, as soon as the root becomes auxiliary, service, becomes an affixed morpheme, it loses this stability. Thus, in the word “potamos” (ποταμός) the root “ms” is preserved, and in the toponym/place name “Mesopotamia” the sound “s” at the end of the word is lost. The same distortions have occurred for thousands of years with the names of the rivers Tom’ and Om’.
Many toponyms\place names of my beloved Crimea have also preserved their ancient roots. For example, in the Crimea there is a river called Putamish—“po-ta-ms”. It originates in the Babugan-yayly mountains, and therefore refers to the movement “on the road down from the mountain”. Into this river flows a smaller river called the Western Putamis, which also retains in its name the ancient sound of drinking. And some rivers got new names. Other peoples who spoke other languages and dialects came and invented or brought with them names that they could understand better. For example, the Ulu-Uzen’ River, flowing near the city of Alushta, was formerly called Megapotamo. Thus, in different parts of the world you can find place names with the same roots: the Potamo, the Megapotamo, the Potomac, the Putamish and the Mesopotamia. In the latter, two “ms” are hidden at once, dating back to the oldest civilizations in the interfluve of the Tigris and the Euphrates.
From the Don to London
Not always hydrological toponyms\place names were formed from the ancient protoroot “ms”, reduced “su” or hissing sounds. Some water bodies were named for other features or geographical features. Then the ancient prepositions came into play — first of all “do” and “no”, which had the meaning of the limit or its absence, as in the case of the word “gluboko” (deep) or the abyss. There are a lot of rivers that cannot be forded, and toponyms\place names that have “no bottom”: the Don River, the Dnieper River, the Dunai River (the Danube), the Dniester River, the Jordan River, Sudan, London, Covadonga, Caledonia, Macedonia, Dongola, Medina, Magadan, Grodno, Andenn, Wiesbaden, Aberdeen, Ardennes and others.
The simplest name, formed by the prepositions “do” and “no”, is our famous Don River, a deep place that cannot be crossed. The Don River flows calmly and steadily, and you can’t reach the bottom. The Dnepr River is another matter. Aggressive protoroot “pr” meant obstacles that water pierces — for example, the Dnieper River rapids, which since ancient times were a distinctive landmark in the area, along the river. Therefore, the Dnieper River should be perceived as an unpredictable river with obstacles.
The main role in the name of the Dniester River is played by the protoroot “str”, which is well-preserved not only in Russian, but also in many languages of the world and is easily perceived in the meaning of “rapid” or “fast”. The Dniester River is a fast river. From protoroot “str” there was a considerable number of words in different languages “stremit`sya” (to strive), “ostrov” (island), “srtuna” (string), “strelyat’” (to shoot), “strezhen’” (rod/centre), a “strata” (strat), “strateg” (strategist), Strasse, street, etc. If you take it literally, it is formed from two roots: “s” is for “water” and “tr” is a “hole”. And it denotes the water that flows rapidly out of the hole. By the way, in the upper reaches of the Dniester River has a narrow deep channel and seems to break through the mountain range.
Moreover, the word “strategiya” (strategy), now so beloved by politicians of various stripes, also goes back to the protoroot “str”. Dictionaries explain the origin of this word from the ancient Greek “στρατηγία” (stratigia) and translate it as “the art of a commander”. But this is a late interpretation. If we parse the word in protoroots, we get a very clear semantic series: “str” is quickly, “ti” is “to do”, “ga” is the way.” That is “rapidly make the way”, move to the victory. I think the Greeks were intuitively and naturally right to give this word a military merit.
Listening to the protoroots of the Dunay (Dunai) river, it is enough to explain the meaning of this hydronym. “Ay” is a mountain, and the Danube originates in the mountains of Germany, is a river running from the mountains.
The Iordan (Jordan) River is more difficult. The name also consists of two roots. “ior” is a distorted “ar” is “the earth”. In this case, “ar” stands for “land in water”. In other words, it is a dirty, muddy river, a river with dirty water. By the way, a slightly distorted protoroot “ar” is also present in the name of the Missouri River—“ms-ur”. How did the American Indians translate this name? That’s right—“dirty river”. Later, the Greeks, and after them the Romans, began to associate dirty water with urine, so the word “urina” appeared. Even later, there were “urns”— vessels for collecting sewage. Enterprising slaves serving urns in the Colosseum offered to charge the Emperor Vespasian for using them — so the catch phrase “money has no smell” appeared.
However, let’s go back to our-not our Don River, deep bottom and river bosom. Once I received an angry comment in my email. A young lady wrote that the name of the city of London comes from the Latin “Londinium”, so there is no need to compose any nonsense and mislead students. At first I wanted to respond to her and even recorded my response on video. But there was no dialogue or feedback.
Indeed, there was a period when London was called “Londinium” according to Latin grammar. But this place was named before the Romans — the Celts called it “Londin”, in turn inheriting this toponym\place name, as the encyclopedias say, from the local inhabitants. Who these natives were? History is silent. But when they named this area, they proceeded from the semantic morphemes of the ancient protolanguage. Those who replaced them did not know this language any more and inherited only the form of the toponym\place name, without understanding its meaning.
In general, almost all toponyms\place names in the UK, as well as the word “Britain”, become clear when the ancient roots and the Russian language come to the rescue. All names have a deep meaning, reflecting the features of the landscape. I will not say that these words are Russian toponyms\place names, although this suggests itself. But one thing is certain: those who gave the names of the area, were good friends with the ancient and possibly Russian language. If you listen to that Professor Anatoly Klesov tells you, Europe used to be inhabited by tribes that were later displaced to its Eastern part. These tribes gave the names of the locality, which are so easily corresponded with the Russian language. With all the changes, the toponym\place name “London” clearly retained its “native” root, and I would say “russian” basis. The consonantal sounds, “l-n-d-n” are the keepers of meaning, and they have been clearly heard in the London’s fog for centuries.
But the secret of the name of London will help us understand… the German city of Kel`n (Cologne). Its name comes from the Latin word “colony”, and Kel`n was once part of the Roman Empire. Later, the peoples who inhabited it changed, the name was pronounced in a new way, with distortions, but the root basis remained the same: “K-l-n”. This word also goes back to the ancient prepositions “k” and “o”, which are well understood in Russian. The combination of these prepositions has the meaning “to round” or “round”. A “colony” is a “bosom around”, a wasteland, an open area without dense vegetation — taken, mastered, satisfied, fertilized. Once people of the same kind — tribe, settling around, developed new and better areas of land, often capturing them from other tribes and establishing their own beginning. Such words as “koloniya” (colony), “pokolenie” (generation), “koleno”—“degree” (including Israel’s) knee, “klan” (clan), and others originate from the ancient prepositions “k” and “o”.
If in the word “koloniya” (colony) instead of protoroot “ko” (round, around) include another protoroot, the ancient preposition “po”, we get a different meaning of the word “lono” (bosom) —it will stretch “along”, capturing all new territories. This combination of protoroots formed many words: Poland, “polyana” (meadow), “polyy” (open\empty), “poleno” (log), “palenyy” (scorched), “polyn`ya” (thawed patch), “plen” (captivity), etc. But at the heart of everything is the “lono”. What does it mean? “No” is a negation, an objection, “l” is something pleasant, loved, giving pleasure. In relation to the area and its geographical features, the sound “l” also denoted vegetation, forest. Therefore, the “lono” is a plot without vegetation, land without forest, a place of rest from a dense stand of trees, a sunny meadow. By the way, the word “leto” (summer) is also a combination of protoroots: “l” is for vegetation and “to” is for place, presence. This is the time when everything blooms and grows.
Finally, the word “lono” has another meaning, which is related to fertility and serves as a feminine principle. For thousands of years, people have been reclaiming land plots from the forest, plowing and throwing grain into them, hoping that they will sprout and give a rich harvest. So the womb (“lono”) of a woman served for the seed laid in it to give offspring. Not to tell you about another meaning of the combination of these protoroots. This is the word “nol’” (zero). A word with its roots rearranged in a different order, but with the same meaning. Zero is empty, null space, nothingness!
However, returning to the foggy Albion, we can look at London itself differently—“lono” and “dono”—an open, beautiful, fertile place by a deep river…
Calais, Caledonia, Dongola and Baikal
On maps of the planet, you can often find names that include a combination of one of the derived breath sounds “ga” and “ka” with a soft sound “el’”. It is an amazing combination! On the one hand, It is a hard road, a long way with a hard exhalation in the end; on the other hand, it is something loved, pleasant, desired. “ka-el’”—“pleasant movement”, a desired and even favorite way. This combination became the basis of place names indicating the most convenient ways. Along them, for example, Alexander Dumas moved to the “musketeer” port of Calais, to comfortably move from the dear old France to the no less old and dear England.
The port of Calais is not the only “transshipment” toponym\place name. In the Northern part of Great Britain there is a province Caledonia. A strange name, consisting of four protoroots: “ka”, “el’”, “do”, “no”. If we take it literally, as an ancient ancestor would have done, we get this meaning: “a convenient, favorite and desired way along the bottom.” And that’s right! The fact is that in ancient times, hundreds of thousands of years ago, an island in the North of England broke— and along the mountains, along the rocks, along the forests formed a crack that stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea, crossing the entire island. In places, the crack has formed deep Loch Ness, Loch Linne, Loch Lochy, in places it is shallow and even has crossings. At the same time, the Scottish “Loch” is a “lake”, akin to our Russian “ovrag” (ravine). The British call this fault Great Glen themselves, which, in fact, has the same meaning. Only if the more ancient Caledonia literally translates as “a good, convenient way on the bottom”, then Great Glen—“a good, convenient way between the mountains”. And the word “Glen” itself is a corruption of “Calais”.
There is another ancient toponym\place name, which is absolutely related to Caledonia, but in which the combinations of protoroots are rearranged: not “ka-le-dono”, but on the contrary —“dono-ka-le”. This is an ancient place of Dongola, which is located in Sudan on the banks of the Nile River. The bottom line is that Dongola is located between the rapids of the Nile River. This means that we can assume that in ancient times this place was designated as a “convenient river crossing”, as it was geographically.
There are many toponyms\place names with the meaning “convenient and good way” in the world. So much so that your head may spin. This is the Kalka River, and the Kalya River, and the ancient river, of which only one name remains — the Galilee River. This is the Permian Galia, and the famous Rubicon-cut Gallia. These are the Kal`nukha River, the Kal`yok River, the Kaleva River, the Kalets River, the Kaler River, the Kal`mius River, the Kal`chik River, the Kalitva River, the city of Kaluga, the Kal`va River, Golstein district, the Kalaly River, Karmyskaly Pond, Dzhambas-Kala, Enikale (Kerch), the city of Gelsinfors (Helsinki), Kilimanjaro, the city of Calcutta, the city of Ramigala. This is the legendary river named by the Turks — Galis, Dzhalinda, the city of Dzhalal-Abad, all kinds of Dzhalili and the resort Gelendzhik. This is the famous Karelo-Finnish epic “Kalevala”. Here, not only the Israeli Dzhelabun is appropriate, but also the name of the famous count Cagliostro and even the name of ancient coins — sikel and shekel. The warm Gulf Stream also flowed out of this story.
Even the name of the German magazine “Spiegel” has the same roots. “Spiegel” is a mirror — a mirror surface of the frozen river, which was a beautiful road, convenient and easy.
The “toponymic mechanism” of naming has also moved to the names of tribes. For example, what can we say in general about “Celts” or “Gauls”? Protoroots “ka-le” (comfortable or convenient way) and “ti” (to do) in their combination denote nomadic tribes that move where they want and where it is comfortable. “Gauls” is a modified “Ka-le”. The same meaning is given to the word “mongol”, where’ mon " (or ‘man’) is a person, and the second part of the word—‘gol’ is ‘ka-le’. The nomad. In this semantic paradigm, the Karakalpak tribes also moved along the banks of the Syr Darya River, and the ‘friend of the steppes—“kalmyk” found his home. It seems to me that Ivan Kalita might be relevant to the nomads and went where he likes.
It is significant, but the word “ka-le” has its counterpart, even with rearranged roots—“liga” (league). This is a related word, but with a more complete meaning. The “liga” is the “connecting way”, which has received the meaning “connection” over time. Among the toponyms\place names, you can recall the city of Liege. In colloquial speech it is also a kind of association: The League of Nations, UEFA Champions League. In ancient times, the word “liga” had an applied meaning — a tie. For example, in Rome, the famous soldier’s lace-up boot was called “kaliga” (caliga). Hence the name of the Emperor Caligula, whose nickname was “little boot”. To some extent, the meaning of “connection” has also been preserved by the Sanskrit word “yoga”, which helps a person to maintain a connection with nature, with the sky and to penetrate “down” himself.
But the Latin word “religa” means that this connection is cut, dividing and pushing people together to embroil them. Religion and faith are the opposite phenomena. My statement that the word “igo” (yoke) is a corruption of the word “liga” may seem quite fantastic. What is a “igo”? This is a yoke, a rope around the neck of cattle, so the word has two meanings: first, it is a union, and second is a yoke, a tie. The Tatar-Mongol League was an association of various peoples who adopted the rules of kon on the basis of ethics. And only more perfect means of competition could destroy it. For example, the ancient hunting technique of cutting off the young and weak from the herd. It was called the word “religa”, and in Great Rome this strategy was known under the slogan: “Divide and conquer”.
Finally, the ancient combination of “ka-le” is the basis for the name of the greatest lake on the planet, which is our gray-haired Lake Baikal. This should be discussed separately.
Much has been written about the name of Lake Baikal. At the same time, the main mistake of scientists and researchers is that they “traditionally” try to interpret the meaning of ancient toponyms\place names through the languages of those peoples who live there now or lived in recent times. But the naming of localities, the designation of landmarks of ancient man was conducted long before then the language groups were formed and even more so formed.
On the territory of Russia, there are several “baikals”—they are about thirty. For example, in the Chelyabinsk region there is a city with a slightly distorted name — Bakal. In case of small discrepancies, all place names have a common feature. It is hidden in the ancient preposition “po”, meaning the movement “along”. For example, the Povolzh`e is along the Volga River, Poltava is along the Ltava River, Pomerania is along the “more” (along the sea). Sometimes consonant “p” in this preposition sounds like a voiced consonant “b”. For example, the city of Bologoe is along the log, lowlands, a wide ravine, Borodino is along something native, fertile, the city of Bologna is along the “lono”, along the bosom. The first syllable in the word Baykal (Baikal), remembering the mountain protoroot “ay”, conveyed the ancient meaning —“along the mountains”. The toponym\place name is actually very definite, understandable to the ear of ancient man—“po-ay-ka-le”. And it means “a convenient passage through high rocks”. In this sense, I would easily call Baikal and Caledonia related toponyms\place names that mark passages in hard-to-reach places. But if Caledonia is a “passage along the bottom” of a mountain fault, then Baykal is a “passage between mountains”.
Baykal is not the only lake that has in its name the semantic roots of “passage”, “transshipment”, “crossing”. This ancient language bush includes Lake Issyk-Kul’, Lake Alakol’, Kara-Bogaz-Gol and many others. The water surface has always been a convenient passage, so “ka-le”, “kol’”, “gol” and others in different languages have received the meaning of “lake”, “water body”. I can add that the language has a stable combination of the roots “ka-le” and “voda” (water). This is the word “gals” (tack). It is the way on water.
The concept of a convenient way for the ancients has a great importance. The meaning of “ka-le” is preserved in many languages around the world. The Crimean-tatar “kele” in all its variants is related to the tatar “kil” (to come), slang “khilyat’” (to go), “oblomkam” (word’s parts) in Russian: “dokole” (to the something (place, month, time)) or “dokel”. This is also the meaning of the English “goal” and not very pleasant to modern man the word “kal” (feces), which were strewn with the way of migration of animals and which for ancient hunters was a guiding star in search of prey. So my ancestors — the Greeks — kept the familiar greeting in their language. “Kali Mero” now sounds like “good day”, where “Kali” is for “good”, and “mero” is for “day” (from our word “mera” (measure”) is a part of the time, the same root of the word “smert’” (death)). But the original meaning of this greeting-wish had the meaning of “good journey”. And the answer, as the password, was not less kind “Kalu Sirtys”.
Reach the top or the Secret
of the root “ay”
In the gornozavodsky Urals near Zlatoust lies the gray ridge — Taganay. Gray hair is given to it by gray stone peaks and rocky ridges that rise above the green relict forest. The traveler is met by quaint stone remnants, placers of kurums, stone rivers and ancient mineral mines. There is a legend about an old giant, deceived by ungrateful sons and petrified with grief. His stone shoulders were so high that the moon sat on them.
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