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 [↩]
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.
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.