Lake Lake on Mars

In February 2021, the Mars rover Perseverance landed at Jezoro crater on Mars. Planetary scientists think the crater once held water, presumably a lake. The crater is named after the small town of Jezoro in Bosnia. NASA Mars Mission Connects With Bosnian Town.

In Bosnian, Jezoro means lake, as do cognate words in other Slavonic Languages. So Jezoro crater means Lake Lake.

Other pleonasms

I could view this as a cross-linguistic example of a pleonasm: using more words than are needed to make a point clearly. Here are a couple more examples.

We once stayed in a hotel in Brussels called Hotel Albergo. Albergo is the Italian for hotel, so this was Hotel Hotel.

The name wasn’t the only odd thing about Hotel Albergo. Our room had no bed, only a mattress on the floor. When we stayed there, our daughter was 9 months old and had just started crawling very enthusiastically. She spent all night crawling round the room, so we got no sleep at all.

For a second example, one of our local restaurants is La Pizzeria Italiana in Catford (South East London). Local people sometimes call it ‘the La Pizzeria’, so ‘the the Pizzeria’.

Mind you, that’s not what we call it. The internal decor is very nice and just like being in Italy, but it’s located in an ugly concrete block, which also used to house a shop that is in a conspicuous place and sells firearms. So our family name for the restaurant has always been the Gunshop.

Jezoro in other Slavonic languages

The form Jezoro existed in Proto-Slavonic and has passed down into the modern languages, after undergoing regular sound changes:

  • It is still Jezoro in some South Slavonic languages (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian). The initial semi-consonant spelled as J is pronounced as Y, as in yes, though apparently NASA staff have adopted an anglicised spelling pronunciation as J, as in judge.
  • In the most easterly of the South Slavonic languages, Bulgarian and Macedonian the word has lost the original J, to become езеро (ezero).
  • In the East Slavonic Languages (Russian, Belorusian, Ukranian), the initial ‘e’ changed to ‘o’. Russian and Ukrainian also dropped the initial semi-consonant, but Belorusian retained it, changing it from y (possibly through w) to v, to form a more natural phonetic combination with the changed vowel. Russian and Ukrainian: oзеро (ozero); Byelorusian: boзеро (vozero)
  • Of the West Slavonic Languages, Czech retained the original form jezero, Polish changed the middle vowel (jezióro) and Slovak changed the first vowel (jazero).

The change of an initial je- into o- is one feature that distinguishes East Slavonic from South and West Slavonic. The must prominent word showing this change is the numeral one: Russian: один (odin); Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian: jedan; Polish, Czech: jeden; Bulgarian: един (edin).

References

Common and Comparative Slavic: Phonology and Inflection, Charles E Townsend and Laura A Janda, 1996, 66-72

The Slavic Languages, Roland Sussex and Paul Clubberley, 2006, 46 and 122-123

3 comments

  1. What a great idea for a website! The pleonasm post reminded me of the band The The which I used to listen to a lot (1980s but post-Emma). Are you looking for people to send in their own language discoveries? PETER

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