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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Proto-Bulgarish Place Names in the Carpathians and Hungary


When searching for traces of the ancient Bulgars in the toponymy of lowland areas of western Ukraine, where the stay of Bulgars has other evidence, it was pointed out that some of the place names in the Carpathians may also have Bulgarish origin. (STETSYUK VALENTYN, 2002: 16-17).

Names of mountain summits

The highest mountain in Ukraine is named Hoverla (2061m above sea level). The decoding of the name by means of the Slavic and Romanian languages gives no acceptable results. In view of Chuv kǎvar “hot coal, embers” with the suffix -la which is used for the formation of adjectives, the name of the mountain could be explained as “puffing with heat”. Such a name would suit well a mountain of eruptive origin, but geographers deny such formation of Hoverla. (Volcanic Carpathians are located at the border of the Transcarpathian lowland). However, the very heated stone scattering of Hoverla in summer could be the reason for the name of the mountain.

Mt Breskul or Bretskul (1911 м). There is a lake on the South-West slope of the mountain. Obviously Chuv păras"icy" and kўlě "a lake" are present in the name. Cf. Turkul.

Mt Dancyr (1848 м). If to take into consideration Chuv tun “to break off” and çyr ”steep, gully”, one can assume that a part of the mountain broke away once, forming a precipice. Both the reason for the name of the mountain and the phonetic correspondence are good. It is necessary to mean, that Chuv u corresponds often. Ukr a.

Mt. Dzembronia (1877 м). Obviously, the mountain was called as the Dzembronya River (see).

Mountain range Kakaraza (highest point 1558 м). Chuv. kukār "crooked, sinuous" and aça "belt" agree with range form.

Part of landscape Kalatura – “yellow mountain” (Chuv khălă “yellow” and tără “a mountain, top”). Though Romanian tură "a rock" can be taken into consideration for this and two next names too.

Mt. Karatura near the village of Nyzhni Bereziv – “black mountain” (Chuv khura “dark” and tără “a mountain, top”).

Mountain range Karmatura – in view of the latter names Chuv tără "mountain, top" is present here too. Chuv karmash "to stretch" can be suggested for the first part of the name.

Mt. Kukul (1539 м). Chuv kukǎl “pie, tart” befits phonetically perfectly to the name. The naming reason for it is not quite clear, as it unknown is what form of pies was baked by ancient Bulgars. However, the Baltic-Finnish languages have similar words with the meaning "hill, summit, height" (Fin. kukkula, Est. kukal a.o.). They were also borrowed from the ancient Bulgars, who were the creators of the Fatyanovo culture in the upper reaches of the Volga River when the ancestors of the Baltic Finns still dwelled there.

There are in the Carpathians a few mountains and peaks with similar names Manchul, Menchul, Menchil. Undoubtedly they have to be decoded as "a great stone" (Chuv. măn "great", chul "stone"). There are in the Carpathians tops which have in their Ukrainian names the word "stone" – Great Stone, Sharp Stone, Painted Stone, etc.

Mt. Mingol (1085 м). Chuv. phonetic correspondences min “roses, ruddiness” and kul “to laugh” are unacceptable for the name of mountain. Most likely, this is a modification of the name Manchul (see).

The tops of mountains having name Magura are present in the Carpathians in great numbers. As the word became also denominative meaning, their quantity cannot be counted. Certainly, it can be accepted to consider the Slavic word gora “a mountain”, but the prefix ma- remains incomprehensible as also phonetic transformation. Cuv mǎkǎr “hill, bump” suits the name of the mountain. The ending –а was accepted under influence of Slavic gora.

Mt. Parashka (1268 m). It is unlikely that the name of the mountain comes from a female name. Chuv. purăsh "badger" with performative adjective suffix -kă suits well. That is "Badger Mountain".

Mt. Sikitura near the village of Sheshory – Chuv sikĕ "descent, fall", tără "a mountain, top".

The name of a small mountain Tempa (1089 meters) has for the first part in the Chuvash language good correspondence: tĕm "hill, mound". The second part can be something like Chuv. pÿ "body, figure, growth."

A certain lake is situated at the foot of the mountain Turkul what gives grounds to consider for the explanation of the name Chuv tără "mountain, top" and kўlě "a lake".

Mountain Pass Shurdyn. Chuv shărt which among others has the meaning “ridge (crest) of the mountain” and en “side, land” suit well for the name.


The names of Carpathian rivers could be also decoded by means of Chuvash but phonetic correspondences wish to be better sometimes. However, in principle, the names of rivers must be more submitted to modifications than the names of mountains, because they are more frequently used as settlements are located mainly on river banks, not nearby mountains.

The Dzembronya River, lt of the Black Cheremosh, and the village of the same name – чув. çĕnĕ "new", părănu "turn".

The Tysa River. This name can stem from the plant yew (Ukrainian tys) which was widespread in the Carpathians in great numbers many years ago, but we could take into consideration Chuv tase “clean” which good suits to river name. If the contamination of two meanings took place, the explanation of the name can be very plausible.

The names of some Carpathians rivers have endings -shava, -shva, -zhava. Chuv šăv “water, river” suits to names as an appellative very well. The ending –а could have corresponded to the special Turkic grammar form (izafet – šăva). Thus, the name of the Borzhava River is transformed out of Chuv pǎr šăva “ice river” (pǎr out of OTrc buz “ice”). The name for a mountain river suits just perfectly.

The name of the Irshava River could be decoded as “morning water” (Chuv ir “morning”).

The Latorica River – Chuv lutra "low", although it can originate from Rom. lotru "fast".

The Kevele River, lt of the Tisza. Chuv. xĕvellĕ "sunny".

The Salatruk River, lt of the Bistritsa-Nadvirnyanska, rt of the Dniester. The name looks Turkic. The first part may have Chuv salat "to scatter, sprinkle," but decoding the second part is difficult.

The Tevshak River, lt of the Apshitsa, rt of the Tisza. Obviously, the name should be decoded as "winding" (Chuv tĕv "loop", -shak – adjective suffix).

The Teresva River – Chuv. tǎrǎ “clean”, shyvĕ “water, river”.

Names of settlements

V. Akreshory. One can see Romanian acru “sour” in the first part of the name Romanian, but nothing better as Rom şură for the second part was not found. The conjunction of these words is doubtful, therefore we can consider Chuv ukăr “tanning matter” which, obviously, has the same origin as Romanian acru and Chuv shury "swamp". Thus the name can be explained as "a tanning swamp". There are swamps near Akreshory.

The name of the town of Bolekhiv could be related to Chuv. pulǎx ”fertility”.

V. Dashava. This name could be decoded as “mountain water” (Chuv tu “mountain” and shyvĕ “river”).

Two villages have the same name Zhukotyn (in the Lviv and Ivano-Francovsk Regions). The name can have a Slavic origin, although in this case the suffix of –otyn looks strange. But the matter is that one of the historical Chuvashian cities had exactly such a name. Then we have a reason to consider Chuv çăka “a linden” as an appellative for the name of settlements having linden-trees. There are many linden-trees in v. the Zhukotyn of Lviv district.

The name of the city of Kalush has a good correspondence in Chuv хulaš „a hillfort, city” out of xula "a town". Many of the Turkic languages have qala/kala "fortress, a city", which is considered to be Arabic borrowing qalha "fortress, citadel". However, all these words can be based on an ancient Nostratic root kal-/kel-, which had sensed "to hide, protect", received in different languages meaning "dwelling, building, fortress, town" (Hebrew kele "prison", Lat. cella "camera, cell," O-Ind. çālā "a house", Eng hall, etc.). See also Kolomyia, Kolochava.

V. Kevelove. The name can be explained differently: Chuv kĕvĕ “melody”, kĕvĕle "to sing, play", kivĕ "old", lav "a cart", kivel "to became old". However Chuv xĕvel "sun" and xĕvellĕ "sunny" suit best of all.

V. Kelechyn. Two Chuvash words are well suited to each other – kĕlĕ "prayer" and chun "soul" and together could be the name of the village, but there is reason to doubt it, because there is in the Transcarpathia a village having a similar name Perechyn which is difficult to decode by means of Chuvash, so Slavic word chin may be present in both names. Although the word kele is not like Slavic. Complicated case.

The city of Kolomyia, v. Kolochava. The names of these settlements can stem from Ukr kolo “round” but the question is not clear -chava. In this connection, Chuv xula "city" and myiǎ can be considered for the name of Kolomyia. Chuv shyvĕ "river" would suit the second part of the name Kolochava.

V. Kosmach, Ukrainian kosmač means “a shaggy man” but we can consider as appellative also Chuv kasmač “a mattock, hook”.

V. Lumshory. Taking to consideration Chuv lǎm “moisture, humidity” and shur “a swamp” the explanation of the name could be “a moist swamp”.

Some settlements in the Carpathians and Fore-Carpathians have strange for Ukrainians names Sykhiv. Ukrainian ending -iv could be added to Chuv root sykh “watchful”.

V. Sheparivtsi near the town of Kolomyya. The name could be related to Chuv shǎpǎr “a besom”.

V. Sheshory near the town of Kosiv. The name could be decoded as “a wet swamp” {Chuv shü “to be watered” and shur “a swamp”). Something like to Lumshory (see).

The names of two villages of Tseniava in the Ivano-Francovsk Region could be related Chuv çěně “new”.

The city of Turka . It is believed that the name origins from the word tur "a bull". Indeed, there are in the Carpathian Mountains the names of settlements, having in its composition the adjective turiy , but in this case, remains unknown suffix – k -. Moreover, there is in Poland near Lublin the village of Turka (see) which was noted in annals already in 1409. Such a coincidence compels us to look for another explanation. Turka has long been a trading center on the way from Hungary to Galicia, so we can consider the origin of the name from Old Bulg. *turku "site, market place" (Chuv. turkhi "bidding").

V. Voronenka. A village is located among mountains on unusual for mountains and enough large space. The name could have Slavic origin, but we could consider Chuv vyrǎn “place, space” and yak “level, smooth, even”. Obviously, at first, the village was named Voroniaka or Voroniaky and later adopted the Slavic suffix – enka.

V. Vorokhta. This village is located in a mountain canyon, therefore Chuv varak “ravine” and tu “mountain” suit perfectly.

The largest cluster of Bulgarish place names survived in a remote part of the Carpathians in the locality of Chornahora, while in the low Beskid land practically the only Bulgarish toponym is the name of the village of Zhukotin in Turka district, Lviv Region. Obviously, this is due to the fact that there are low passes Srednevertsky (altitude 839 m above sea level) and Uzhoksky (883 m), which across lay the migration routes of nomadic peoples – Huns, Avars, and Magyars. Naturally, the autochthonous population here was not retained and the area was eventually completely empty:

The city of Turka, along with the rest of the outskirts from Old Sambora to Beskid was totally uninhabited forest wilderness to the half of the 14th century (PULNAROWICZ WŁADYSŁAW. 1929, 1).

The Bulgars settled the Carpathians, moving to the mountains from the territory of the modern-day Lviv Region. Down from the mountains, a sufficiently large part of them went on, inhabiting the territory of modern Hungary and possibly the southern part of Slovakia, where several place names may have Bulgarish origin.

Multitudes of Bulgarish place names in
Hungary, Poland, and Western Ukraine.

Map scale doesn't let show all place names in their greatest concentrations. Furthermore, Bulgar place names are found in large quantities in the Czech Republic, Germany, Baltic States, Finland, and Sweden and while continuing the search it becomes impossible to display their extension on conventional maps. In such circumstances, there is no choice but to apply the new data to the map in the system of Google Map (see below).

On the map, purple dots mark localities with the Bulgarish origin of the name, which may correspond to the times of CWC or close to them. Maroon – the latter, of the Scythian period.


After the analysis of the Carpathian toponymy testifying the presence of Ancient Bulgars there, a search to find their traces in place names of adjacent Hungary did too. As it turned out, some Hungarian place-names also could have Bulgarish origin. The fact that some of them are not Hungarian is proved by their Roman versions of Roman times. As the sites of CWC are absent in Hungary, this process occurred in Scythian or later times.

Abasár, a village in Heves County – Chuv upa “a bear”, shur “swamp”;

Arló , a village in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County – Chuv urlav “cross-piece”;

Buj, a village in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County to the north of Nyíregyháza – Chuv puy “rich”;

Buják, a village in Nograd County, next to Pásztó – Chuv “rich”, ak "to sow";

Bük, a village in Vas County – Chuv pükh “to swell”;

Dunakeszi, a city in Pest County – the first part of the word ші the Hungarian name of the Danube, the second part corresponds to the Сhuv kasă "street, village", a very common formative of Chuvash place names;

Inke, a village in Somogy County – Chuv inke “daughter–in-law”;

Ják, a village in Vas County – Chuv yăk “misfortune”;

Kerka, the river, lt of the Ledava, lt of the Mura, lt of the Drava, rt of the Danube – Chuv kĕrkke “a trout";

Komjati, a village in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County – Chuv khum “a wave”, yăt “to raise”;

Laskó, the river, rt of the Tisza, lt of the Danube – Chuv lashka “to plod”;

Onga, a village in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County to the east of Miskolc – Chuv unkă “a ring”;

Pakod, a village in Zala County – Chuv dial. păl “to fall asleep”, ut “a horse”;

Pásztó, a town in Nógrá County next to Buják – Chuv pustav “cloth”;

Sály, a village in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County to the south of Miskolc – Chuv sulă “a raft”;

Takta, the river, lt of the Sajo, rt of the Tisza, lt of the Danube – Chuv tăl “to pour”, tu “a mountain”;

Tarpa, a village in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County – Chuv tărpa “a chimney”;

Tata, a town in Komarom-Esztergom County – Chuv tută “satisfied”;

Tura, a town in Pest County – the origin of the name can be out of Chuv tără 1. “a mountain”, 2. “clear” or tura 1. "comb", 2. "divine".

Veszprém , a city – Chuv veç “finish”, pĕrĕm “a skein”;

Zahony, a town in Szabolcz-Szatmár-Bereg County – Chuv çăkhan’ “a raven”;

Zala, the river, flows in Lake Balaton – Chuv çula “to lick”.

Found in Romania trails of Bulgarish place names may be associated with the settlement of Bulgarish hordes, who came here under the leadership of Khan Asparuh late 7th thousand therefore this fact comes out of the chronological frame of our Study.

Old Bulgarish population in Western Ukraine remained not only in the Carpathian Mountains but also on the plains. Subsequently, it was assimilated by the Ukrainians, but Bulgars had left their mark on the Ukrainian folk culture, especially in embroidery, carving, and songs. Hungarian-Bulgar contacts, which began in Scythian times on the northern Black Sea coast, could be resumed again when the Magyars under the pressure of Pechenegs crossed the Carpathians and found its home on the territory which is occupied by them now (Hungarian term honfoglalas). The traces of these contacts is particularly evident in the languages but stratifying them is difficult.

In the Carpathians, archaeologists distinguish a separate Carpathian Tumuli culture (CTC), which ethnicity is not defined, but it is assumed that it was created by aliens:

The Carpathian Tumuli culture has no local roots. Its formation, although it took place on the territory of the Carpathian, is however directly related to the resettlement of some people to these lands (VAKULENKO LILIANA VASYLIVNA. 2009: 18).

However, there are some facts of similarities between the elements of the culture of the Chuvash and Hutsuls. Therefore, we can assume that the Bulgars remained in the Carpathians until the arrival of the Slavs, and it was they who could become the creators of the CTC. Additional evidence for this is that the word hutsul itself is of Bulgarian origin – Chuv. khuça "master", khuçalăn "to manage, behave like a master". Linguists have several explanations for the origin of the word hutsul, but none of them, according to experts, is convincing (MELNYCHUK O.S, 1982: 630). What is proposed here may also seem doubtful if you do not know that in this case the Chuvash kh is pronounced like the Ukrainian h, and ç as ts'. One can think that when the Ukrainians advanced into the Carpathians, the local population presented itself to the newcomers as the masters of the region. Over time, the Bulgars assimilated among the Ukrainians but retained their self-name. This assumption can be supported by the presence of coincidences in the location of clusters of Bulgar toponyms and sites of CTC. Let's consider this possibility by comparing the location of such clusters on the map below.

On the map, red circles indicate the Bulgarish place names, and blue are sites of CTC.

Looking at the map, you can see that the number of monuments and place names is far from equal. But there should have been many more monuments since data on their location, taken from the works of L.V. Vakulenko are far from complete. Nevertheless, such a remark by this Ukrainian researcher is important:

… sites of the Carpathian Tumuli culture occupy by no means mountain ranges but the foothill territory which is geographically characterized as a gently hilly (VAKULENKO L.V. 2002: 16).

Meanwhile, it is in the mountainous part that the Bulgarian toponyms have the highest density. However, this can be explained. The mountains could have been settled later than the CTC existed on the arrival of the Slavs in the Carpathian region. So the Slavs forced the Bulgars to retreat to the mountains.

L.V. Vakulenko suggests, based on some similarities between the elements of the Chernyakhov culture and the CTC, that the creators of the latter moved simultaneously with the Goths. This ethnos, in her opinion, could be the Taifals, one of the Germanic tribes (VAKULENKO L.V. 2009: 18-19).

Proto-Bulgarish Place Names in Central and Northern Europe
(Full List)