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Eccentric Names of Russian Villages, Part 1
February 23, 2015 16:29


When travelling across Russia one may come across a number of unexpected and surprising names. How come, for example, there is Emmauss Village in the Tver Region and why Chyornaya Gryaz’ (i.e. Black Dirt!) near Ryazan? What is Mamyri and for what reason was a village in the Volgograd Region nicknamed Tsatsa (translating as Hoity-Toity from Russian)? My Planet reveals the secrets of those strange names.

Dobrye Pchely (i.e. Kind Bees) in the Ryazan Region
 
All legends connect the name of the village to wild-honey farming widespread in this area. Nearby there is a forest named Apiary (Paseka) and the village Kind Honeycomb (Dobry Sot).
 
It is known that the village was named after the heathland Kind Bees, which was first recorded in dated 1574-1575, and the name of the village of Kind Bees was documented from the 17th century.
According to local legends, the heathland had a wild apiary, where monks of the neighboring Bogoslovsky Monastery came to gather honey. At that time the main meaning of the word “kind” was “good, high-quality, the best”, and so the phrase “kind bees” meant “good bees brining plenty of honey”.
 
Another version of the name origin interprets the word “kind” in its modern sense. A story of the 80-year-old Agafia Abashina from the Village of Kind Bees was recorded in 1981. The story tells that monks took of bees from the monastic apiary out to the heathland for the summer, and men passing by to the market were afraid to stop at the heathland. They used to say: “Monks have angry bees” and the watchman would answer: “Don't be afraid. Ours are kind bees”.

Starye Chervi (i.e. Old Worms) in the Kemerovo Region
 
The official name of the village is Starochervovo, but Starye Chervi (meaning Old Worms in Russian) has taken such strong roots that this is exactly the way locals name the village, and the relevant bus stop.
 
The origin of the name Starochervovo is generally associated with the gold mines of Kuznetsky Alatau, on the western suburb of which the village is located. “Chervovo” comes from “chervonny”, that is Old Russian word for “dark red”. Chervonny also stands for “pure” when comes with gold and means gold and copper alloy corresponding to the highest standards (from 916 to 986). Gold coins were made of it in olden days.
 
Some historians see Polish roots in the name. It is known that participants of the Polish revolts of 1830–1831 and 1863-1864 were exiled to these lands in the 19th century. This version associates the second word in the village name (chervovo) not with gold mining but with the Polish city of Cherven, which means “a beautiful town” or “a town in beautiful terrain”.
 
At the same time nobody can say for sure where the vulgarism Starye Chervi (Old Worms) comes from. Suggestion is that it was coined under the influence of two factors: tendency to make the name more pronounceable, even though less euphonic, and expression of gold miners’ working conditions that make them akin to worms.

Radio in the Moscow Region
 
The name of the Radio Settlement is directly associated with the purpose of its foundation and the objectives and goals its first dwellers had.
 
In the early 1930s the Radio Scientific Research Institute was engaged, among other things, in development of transceiver equipment working on metric radio waves. Experimental communication lines were mounted for testing this equipment.
The Radio Settlement became part of the polygon for testing radio relay lines: the signal was sent from a post office building in the center of Moscow and the receiving antenna was carried out far to the country, and the settlement was built around it to lodge the project participants.
 
 

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Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Historical Background Russian Etymology Eccentricities Russian Settlements  

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