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Eccentric Names of Russian Villages, Part 2
February 23, 2015 16:38


Previous: Eccentric Names of Russian Villages, Part 1

Tsatsa (i.e. Hoity-Toity) in the Volgograd Region

The village of Tsatsa (the word presently meaning “hoity-toity”) was founded by immigrants from the Central Russia in 1788. However, all the versions of its name origin mention its Kalmyk traces. It is no wonder, since the village is located in the northern suburb of a Kalmyk ulus, on the shore of Tsatsa Lake.
 
It is believed that the village inherited its name from the lake. There are three versions explaining the origin of the lake’s name.
The most probable of them is based on the fact that the word “tsatsa” translated from Kalmyk means “Buddhist chapel”, that is the lake was named in honor of the chapel standing on its shore. 
 
And yet, the word “tsatsa” has another translation meaning “hands”. The second version is based on a story of how the daughter of the prince governing these lands long before the arrival of the Russian immigrants fell into the lake water and started sinking. Floundering with her hands in water, she was noticed by some people who promptly saved her. In honor of the fortunate rescue the lake was named Tsatsa, i.e. Hands. The third version is the simplest one: the princely daughter was named Tsatsa and so the lake was named after her.
 
Mokva, or 1st Mokva in the Kursk Region
 
Interpreters of this name agree that it comes from the same-name small river that the village was founded on in the early 17th century. The village was named now Mokva and now Makva. Researchers have controversial opinions concerning the origin of the river name.
 
Some suppose that this word is of a Finno-Ugrian origin: “va” stands for “water”, “river”, and “mok” or “mak” denotes the place where it flows. Other version refers to The Russian Etymological Dictionary by M.R. Fasmer and claims that the word "mokva" was adopted from the Don and Kherson dialects and means “dampness” or “wet”. The explanation looks plausible, since the terrain is marshy, replete with numerous springs.
 
It is interesting to note that in mythology of some Tibetan-Burma groups Makva is the name of the Sky lord, who sent flood on the ground. At the same time, “mokva” stands for “rain” in the thieves’ cant.
 
Mamyri in the Moscow Region
 
The name strange for this area is explained with two local legends, both of them connecting Mamyri name to love stories with French participants.
According to one version, “Mamyri” was derived from the French “Ma Marie!” (i.e. “My Mari”). This is the way a Frenchman in love used to call one village girl for dates. He did it so long and so often that his abstruse calling stuck to this small village and then became its name.
 
The heroine of the second version was a local landowner, who fell in love with a young Frenchman, married him, and when expecting her death legated the village to her spouse with the words: “the village is for mon mari”, i.e. for my husband. But it turned to be written in the will “the village of Monmari is for my husband”. 
 
Interestingly enough, there is one more village with the same name in Naro Fominsk District of the Moscow Region. However, it is not so surprising: Russia had lots of rural beauties, mad landowners, and amorous Frenchmen both before and after Napoleon's invasion.
 
 
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Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Historical Background Russian Etymology Eccentricities Russian Settlements  

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