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!

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Keep your mask close

Wearing of masks behind closed doors has been mandatory following the government’s August decision that the public was freed from masking in outdoor spaces.According to a press statement from the ministry, all other remaining COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing in schools and requirements for vaccination or PCR tests at ports of entry have also been relaxed.Statistics still show that hundreds still die daily due to the pandemic around...

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