Ever since I worked in Göteborg (Sweden) and heard the word “torg”1 for the first time I wondered: is this related to the Russian root -торг- as in “торговать”2? Turns out my hunch was almost right from the beginning. It is related. I just never bothered to check up on it.
But the connection is the inverse of the one I assumed until now. The Rus, a Varangian tribe from what’s now Sweden3, settled in what’s now Ukraine and was the original center of the Russian empire, also known as Киевская Русь. They were what I thought the connection here – and looking at the fact they probably are.
We already know for a fact that the Russian “город”4 and the Polish “gród”5 are connected through the word “Garðaríki” with the old Norse word that is in modern Icelandic “garður” (cognate of English: garden). Obviously it would make sense for the Norsemen that traveled as far South as Constantinople to have an influence on Slavonic6 and vice versa. However, “arrogantly” I assumed that the Slavonic people borrowed the word from the Norsemen. Turns out I was wrong about that part.
This adds “torg” to my personal list of words I now know are related to Slavonic roots such as “die Grenze”7, “die Gurke”8 and “garden”. I wish there was a proper dictionary about this with the set of languages I’m interested in most9.
- i.e. “(city) square” [↩]
- translit: torgovat’, i.e. “to trade” [↩]
- who also gave the name to Russia [↩]
- translit: gorod, i.e. “castle” but mainly “city”/”town” these days [↩]
- roughly same meaning [↩]
- or early Russian in particular [↩]
- German for English “border” [↩]
- German for English “cucumber”, also keep in mind English “gherkin” [↩]
- Slavonic + Germanic + Romance languages [↩]