Below are clues to the names of a number of international cities. The name of each city is a homograph of an English word. The clues provided are vaguely etymological, and may or may not be sufficiently helpful. Some knowledge of geography will provide assistance, but possibly not enough.
These cities all have populations over 100,000 according to one or more random reference works.
- ???, Australia
- Scottish, from Gaelic for “heap of stones, rocky hill,” akin to a Gaulish word for “horn”, from the PIE base *ker-n-
- ???, Brazil
- Via Middle English, from the Latin for “of or belonging to one’s birth”
- ???, Côte d’Ivoire
- From Old English, via Middle English, with obvious cognates in German and Dutch, and cognate with Old Norse mathr, and Gothic manna.
- ???, France
- From an Old French word for “silly, foolish,” from a Latin word for “ignorant”. Over the years, the word has meant “timid”, “fussy”, “dainty”, “precise”, “agreeable” and “kind”.
- ???, India
- Via Middle English from an Old English word meaning “to beg, ask”; cognate with German “please”.
- ???, Indonesia
- From French, a shortened form of chemin de fer _____, referring to the Paris Underground.
- ???, Kazakhstan
- From the Latin for “mouth”, cognate with Sanskrit ās-.
- ???, Pakistan
- Possibly from a word for “lump”, and related to hob.
- ???, Russia
- A shortened form of permanent wave dating back to the 1900’s.
- ???, Taiwan
- Possibly a shortened form of a word via Old French and Middle Latin, from a Latin word for “pan, dish”.
- ???, Turkey
- A shortened form from Middle French for “guard in front”.
- ???, Vietnam
- Via Middle English, from an Old English word for “form, appearance, color”; cognate with Old Norse hȳ, “bird’s down”.
As before, if you think you’ve figured out more than a couple of them, send your wild and unsubstantiated guesses to the editors of SpecGram. If we get your responses by September 15th, 2011, you could win a SpecGram magnet of your choice. The correct solution and winners, if any, will be announced in the October issue of Speculative Grammarian.
The answers to the EtymGeo™
Springs, South Africa
We had quite a few solutions submitted for the EtymGeo™