While observing the developments in Turkmenistan and reading about that country I have always wondered about the characteristic, often very long and difficult to pronounce Turkmen names. Recently, I have come across a very interesting article which helped me understand this phenomenon. I highly recommend it to everyone who reads Russian. It was published on the \"Moya Turkmeniya\" website. Unfortunately, its author’s name was not disclosed, just the name of the person who published the article (Merdan Atayev). I would like to share here a few passages of the text which I found particularly interesting. Unlike in the Western cultural circle (or e.g. in Russia), the Turkmen names still mean something. European or American names, naturally, also have their meanings, but they are rarely taken into consideration when choosing a name for a child. What is important for us is whether the parents like the name, if it is popular or that one of our ancestors was called the same. The Turkmen names are strongly linked with their owners. Somebody born on a snowy day could be named Gariagdy, which means “snow has fallen”; a boy born on Friday was often called Annadurdy or Jumadurdy meaning „Friday has come”. The first boy in a family could be named Oguldurdy (“son has arrived”). A fair-haired girl was often called Akjemal (“the white beauty”) or if she was born in the springtime - Yazjemal (“the spring beauty”). New names (created by the parents) are constantly being given to children in Turkmenistan, so there probably exists nothing like an official name register that we have in many countries in Europe. As noticed by the author of the text, in Turkmenistan a name functions as a kind of “identitiy card” of its owner.

There is a popular saying that warns: “Before starting a fight with somebody, first learn his name”. Because if he is called Chary, Biashim or Alty, it means that he is the fourth, fifth or sixth boy in his family. Not everyone would like to come into conflict with several brothers who might be eager to help one another.
Some old Turkmen names seem strange or even ugly at the first glance, e.g. Italmaz (“a dog won’t touch you”), Porsy (“stinky”) or Kurry (“a baby donkey”). But that does not mean that the parents did not love their children. Some superstitious parents would sometimes give such names to their kids in order to protect them from an “evil eye”, sickness or death. Ugly names were supposed to scare off bad luck. A characteristic feature of the Turkmen names is their syncretism which reflects the turbulent history of the Turkmen people whose lands witnessed clashes of various civilizations. That’s why in Turkmenistan one can come across names of Turkish, Persian or Arabic origin. Thus, although Guzel, Zyba and Jemile sound completely different, they all mean the same (“beautiful”) but in different languages. There are also Russian names like Boris or Vladimir. The Soviet times have left behind several Marxes, Vladlens (from Vladimir Lenin), Komsomols or even Kanalgeldys (meaning “the canal has arrived” to honour the Karakum Canal built in the Soviet era). Turkish names are most widespread, typical Muslim names are not as popular as e.g. in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan or Dagestan. This shows that Islam is not very deeply rooted in Turkmenistan. What’s interesting is that there are also names combining two words of a different origin, e.g. Salamguly (from the Arabic word “salam” meaning “peace” and the Turkish word “gul” which stands for a “servant”) or Jumagiul (from the Arabic word “juma”, i.e. “Friday” and the Persian word “giul” - “rose”). Therefore, when meeting a Turkmen it is good to ask not only their name and its meaning, but also think about the meaning of one’s own name…

Köneler, shahyr tarapyndan 12 years ago
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