Spanish as a language

What Are Spanish Toponyms & What is Their Origin?

As we have learnt on other occasions, there are several ways of telling different types of nouns in Spanish. One of the most important one is to differentiate between proper and common nouns and, within proper nouns, we find the Spanish toponymy.

What are Spanish toponyms? According to the RAE, it is a proper name of a place, that is, a geographical feature and toponymy is the science that studies the names of places, the toponyms!

Toponyms sometimes have personal names or surnames, for example, Baena, which is a town in Cordoba, Spain. In many other cases, proper names have been transformed over time and have acquired another form due to their use or the natural spelling of the Spanish language or social context.

Different Toponyms

Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of toponyms according to their origin, that is the formation of the words.

– Arabic Toponymy: the long stay of the Arabs in the Iberian Peninsula provided not only infrastructure, heritage and genetics, but also gave Spanish numerous phonemes and Arabic places names that have endured throughout history:

* Alcalá: comes from calá, which means castle, so, it is “the castle”.

* Gibraltar: comes from gebel, meaning mountain, so it is “Tarik’s mountain”.

* Guadalquivir: comes from wad, which means river, so it is “big river”.

Canarian toponymy: the African islands also have a lot to contribute with Guanche – Canarian language – toponyms:

* Icod de los Vinos: on Tenerife, Icod comes from the indigenous Guanche kingdom Icode.

* Garachico: on Tenerife and means “small rock”.

* Isora: also in Tenerife, it means “high place”.

Quechua toponymy: the Quechua territory covers the area comprising the Andes. This vast territory also enriches the language with so many Quechua words and phrases:

* Cochabamba: in Bolivia, it comes from q’ucha and panpa, and means “lake and plain”.

* Lonquimay: in Chile, it comes from lonco and mayu, meaning “head and river”.

* Carhué: in Argentina, it comes from carre and hue, and means “green place”.

Anthroponymy and Toponymy

The meaning of anthroponym is the proper names that designate humans, i.e. people. Although some people share a name, they are used to differentiating us from each other.

Some examples are Claudia, Timothy, William, Eulàlia or Mar, like the members of the iScribo team, although not all of them are in Spanish.

As Many Place Names as Places in the World!

There are as toponyms, as many places, rivers, mountains, etc. exist in the Spanish-speaking countries. Different types of nouns in Spanish can be a lot of fun because there are many ways to do it. Have you tried correcting Spanish toponyms with iScribo’s spelling and grammar checker? Anyway, while you are practising, can you tell us in the comments some toponyms and anthroponyms that catch your attention?

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