Most of us in the West—at least in my experience as an American—know relatively little about the meanings of the names of places where we live. For example, I know that the name of my home state,
Karamojong place names have special morphologies that mean ‘place of’ or ‘home of’. The prefixes lo- and na- attach to masculine and feminine nouns, respectively, and signify ‘direction to’ or ‘location at’. The preposition ka means ‘and, with, of, home of, etc.’ and also prefixes to nouns to denote places (yes, that’s why every place around here is ka-ka-ka!). Because the landscape here is marked by so many rocky outcroppings, mountains, and massive boulders, the root moru- ‘rock/mountain’ is also a common component of place-names. So we hear place-names like:
Lowakuj Nacakunet Kapedo Morungole
Lowala Naita Kamion Moruatap
Loyoro Narengepak Kakamar Morukori
Most places that have names in Kaabong District seem to have been named after events, geological features, activities or states, or people, animals, and plants. For example, Nacakunet is the name of a mountain and surrounding villages which were so named after a woman jumped off the mountain to kill herself. The name comes from the word acakun which has to do with throwing or jumping down. Lowakuj is another mountain-village complex named thus because of a natural rock wall that rings the top of the mountain. The name stems from Karamojong ewait Akuj ‘God has fenced’. Morukori (moru ‘rock/mountain’ + ekori ‘girrafe’) is named ‘the mountain spotted like a giraffe’ because of the several different kinds of stones that litter its slopes.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Ik Place-Names!