Unearthing the etymology of �tau� and �leo�

Every Motswana knows that tau means ‘lion’. But there is another Setswana name for ‘lion’ that many people are not aware of: ‘podumo’.

Thus, the Taung district (‘taung’ means ‘place of the lion’) in the predominantly Setswana-speaking province of North West in South Africa – where the revered Tiger Kloof boarding school is situated – entails the name Podumong. This name itself can be unbundled as comprised of poo (literally meaning ‘bull’ in today’s terms, but originally meaning ‘boss’ or ‘ruler’) and dumo (noisy) – thus ‘noisy king’ – alluding, of course, to the lion’s intimidating roar.

The primordial etymology of the term ‘leo’ – as meaning ‘lion’ – is itself better unearthed through Setswana. The original term was evidently ‘le-One’ (‘the king’: lyon in French) – a term befitting the ‘king of the jungle’! Those who follow my column religiously will not be surprised about the association of ‘One’ with ‘king’. Last week I unbundled the real meaning of ene (‘himself’) as having meant ‘lord’ in Sumerian. Thus, ‘Enki’ (EN.KI) was ‘Lord of Earth’ and ‘Enlil’ (EN.L’ILLU, or Ene-le-Illu) was ‘Lord of the Gods’. But I also showed in previous articles that ene and one mean exactly the same in Setswana, thus the Egyptian god ‘At-en’ (ata means ‘multiply’ in Setswana) was the same entity as the Greek/Hebrew god ‘Ad-on’ (‘add’ means multiply in English, and it has the same root as ata). In fact ‘Adonai’ (Hebrew) and ‘Adonis’ (Greek) differed only in the appendage ai/is but both mean ‘multiplying (fertile) lord’. Just to rub it in, you may google the meaning of the Sumerian god’s name ‘Su-en’. It means ‘multiplying (fertile) lord’! In Hebrew, he was thus called ‘Sinai’, after whom the ‘sacred’ Canaanite area was eponymously named (see Joshua 15:1). We are indeed talking about a single god here!

Editor's Comment
Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day holds immense significance for Batswana as a whole. It offers a moment for reflection and celebration of the country's achievements, while also prompting introspection.We must honestly assess whether the number of years of independence aligns with the progress we have made. While there is certainly much to celebrate, there are also pressing issues that require the attention of relevant stakeholders. Many Batswana are facing...

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