Another one …

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.

// Oliver

  1. i.e. “(city) square” []
  2. translit: torgovat’, i.e. “to trade” []
  3. who also gave the name to Russia []
  4. translit: gorod, i.e. “castle” but mainly “city”/”town” these days []
  5. roughly same meaning []
  6. or early Russian in particular []
  7. German for English “border” []
  8. German for English “cucumber”, also keep in mind English “gherkin” []
  9. Slavonic + Germanic + Romance languages []
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2 Responses to Another one …

  1. Corrine says:

    When I read your article, the first thing that came to mind was many, many years ago, my husband talking about Old Church Slavonic. I thought by now there might be an Old Church Slavonic dictionary online but the closest I came to was Old Church Slavonic Online: Series Introductionl which also has Old Norse and others. Provided the link just in case there is any value for you.

    Hope you’re well.


  2. Oliver says:

    Hey Corrine, thanks for the link. Much appreciated. Yep, I’m mostly fine but also stressed out at work. Some nasty news at work, however.

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