net This article presents words for chess, six chess pieces and check in 74 languages in the table. This article is originally written in Finnish. If you know more languages to be added to the table, please send me e-mail. Your feedback is welcome to my e-mail. Some chess pieces have interesting secondary meanings. The king in chess is usually the same word as the ordinary king in many languages around Europe and Asia (eg. Catalan rei, Finnish kuningas, Polish król, Chinese wang). Sometimes a language uses a loan word, which does not necessarily mean the ordinary king, eg. the Japanese kingu is a loan word from English king. As far as is known king's basic move has not changed. In the 13th century the king was permitted once in a game to make a leap, and from this the move of castling was developed. King is a translation of shah, the Persian word for king. The rook has many meanings in different languages. The rook is a tower in many European languages (eg. Spanish and Portuguese torre, Finnish torni, French tour, Dutch toren), sometimes a large farm (Frisian stins), a ship (Russian lad'ja, transcribed also as ladya), a fortress or castle (Indonesian benteng) or a wagon (Chinese ju, Estonian vanker). Until the new queen's move was introduced in the 15th century the rook was the most powerful piece. Except for the castling the powers of the rook have been unchanged throughout the known history of chess. Words for chess queen in European languages are generally feminine, with a few exception. But outside Europe the chess queens usually don't have gender or the piece is masculine. The Arabic firz or firzn (counsellor) was never translated into a European language although it was adopted. For example the Italians call the queen as donna ('woman') or more common regina (queen in Italian). A Latin manuscript preserved in the Einsiedeln Monastery in Switzerland (997 AD) contains the first recorded mention of the chess queen (regina). In French usage reine 'queen' replaced fierce or fierge (from the Arabic fers) during the 14th century; during the next century reine was replaced by the word dame. In the Middle Ages the queen or firz was the third weakest piece after the pawn and the fil. However the queen became the mightiest piece in the middle of the 15th century. Chess players may have borrowed the word dame from the game of draughts. The transition from dame to queen would be natural, a desire to pair the central pieces. A recent theory explains that the cult of the Virgin Mary, the ordinary medieval queens and the cult of romantic love would have the transformed the firz into the feminine queen and finally elevated the chess queen into the game's mightiest figure. The queen in Estonian (lipp) is a flag. Arabic (wäziir, firzn), Russian (ferz'), Farsi (vazir, farzin), Uzbek (farzin), Hindi (farz, wazr) and Turkish (vezir) among others still use the ancient word of no gender firz for today's chess queen. Usually words for chess knight mean a horse (eg Azerbaijani at, Chinese ma, Dutch paard) or a rider (French cavalier, Czech jezdec) or a horse with rider (Finnish ratsu) or a kind of rider (English knight, Irish ridire 'knight', Breton marc'heg 'knight'). In many countries knight's name is linked with the cavalry which it originally represented, but the German Springer means leaper or jumper which is a kind of horse in the sports. There are many ways in different languages to call a bishop. The bishop can be a messenger (Finnish lähetti and Polish goniec), a clergyman (English bishop and Irish easpag 'bishop' both from

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the expression "the king is defeated". In Finnish checkmate is matti but Matti with capital initial is a male name. The word fil is derived from the Persian pil 'a chess piece or an elephant'. Indonesian ( skak-mati). Both German Bauer and Spanish peon mean peasant or agricultural worker. In most languages mate is mat like in Dutch. The name pawn derives from the Anglo-French word poun and ultimately from a direct translation of the Arabic word baidaq. a runner (German läufer. Latvian ( šahs un) mats. In Dutch. for example Azeri ( ah v) mat. Polish. which is derived from the Persian words shah ('king') and mat ('defeated'). The Frisian fjildhear is the leader on the battlefield. there are some colloquial expressions which refer to the pion and its minor importance. The Dutch loper means 'runner' or 'key'. Frisian boer and Ukrainian pishak both mean farmer. Because Arabic lacks p. It could be moved to only eight squares by jumping to any of the squares diagonally two squares away. The fil 'elephant' was the weakest piece in the old game and placed in the array where the bishop now stands. Czech. German matt) while non-players tend to use longer expression (eg. The move of the bishop. so the Europeans called this piece as fil or alfil (> aufin). The Spanish and Portuguese word for checkmate is mate. The pawn is usually a soldier. The French pion has spread in many languages. The weird semantics (meanings) of this French word ('chess bishop' vs. Farsi (Persian) and Hindi. eg. For chess players the context of mate is clear. Sometimes term for checkmate can precede (or alternatively not) word for check. Checkmate in different languages The term for the end of the game is checkmate. The Irish marbhsháinn meaning 'checkmate' is a compound of marbh 'dead' and sáinn Page 2 of 8 24/01/2013 21:44 PM . In some languages there is a free variation. Bulgarian. Russian. The Italian alfiere is a flagbearer. Dutch has earlier used raadsheer for the bishop. even if the players are Finnish and player's name is Matti. Vietnamese ht nc and Korean thongcang. is the same as the move of the courier in the German game of that name introduced long before modern chess. 'fool' and 'crazy') has transferred to Romanian and Greek. a rifleman (Czech stelec).is definite article. which practise is nowadays unknown. The Spanish alfil has no other meanings. In these languages chess players tend to use shorter expression (eg. actually there has been a Dutch chess club named Raadsheer. In French usage fou replaced aufil during the 16th century. This meaning has been borrowed in many Germanic and Slavonic languages. an elephant (Indonesian gajah) or a crazy (French fou. In this case the pion does not have another meaning. Turkish. however. English ( check) mate.http://www. 'tired'. The name bishop has been used in English-speaking countries since the end of the 15th century when this piece took the place of the aufin used in the old Japanese oote-( tsumi). Romanian nebun and Greek trelós mean fool or crazy. The French pion and the Spanish peón are both derived from the latin pes : pedis 'foot'.htm Latin episcopus 'bishop'). mate or checkmate. Romansh currider. more precisely an infantry in Latin pedes. since matt has another meaning in German. German Schach matt). a foot soldier.shakki. An original secondary meaning is collateral in English pawn. Romanian ah-mat. Chinese jingsi. Latin cursor). French. Greek. Lithuanian ( šachas ir) matas.mat. also a jester or a fool). Croatian šah-mat. The prefix al. so different from that of the aufin. the pil became fil. One source mentions raadsman ('adviser') used for bishop. German ( Schach) matt and Italian scacco-matto. Mongolian mad. Basque xake mate. Albanian ( shah).

Note that in all Slavic languages and Hungarian the letter c is pronounced as [ts]. in IPA j). I have followed the Finnish transcription traditions with a few exceptions. xec scac xaque echec ah cav rg xake + Page 3 of 8 24/01/2013 21:44 PM . xake-joko kuningas kuningatar king queen roi dame re donna rey dama. South American.htm 'check'. the only exceptions are when the language has its own standard transcriptions with regular domestic use. while in Farsi x means the velar fricative. for example š instead of the regularly used sh. In the Cyrillic and the Greek alphabet this phoneme is written with the letter X. regin rgna dama torni rook tour torre torre torre torre roc torre castel turn turris gaztelu ratsu knight cavalier cavallo caballo cavalo cavall cjaval cabalo cabal cal eques zaldun lähetti bishop fou alfiere alfil bispo alfil alfîl bispo falour nebun cursor alfil sotilas pawn pion pedone peón peão peó pedon peón piun pion pedes peoi sakki check échec scacco jaque xeque escac. I have used h for the velar fricative (e g German ch). In the table the Greek x means ks. North American. I here thank all the people who have given me feedback from different European. Artificial languages are not included. which means literally 'horse' just like in many other Turkic languages. In Bulgarian and Macedonian words ts can be transcribed as c too.shakki. the only exception is Esperanto because of its extensive use. eg carica or tsaritsa 'queen'. eg Hindi and Chinese. eg the Bulgarian peška 'pawn' can be transcribed as peshka too. Miscellaneous The words for chess pieces of languages with non-Latin writing system need to be transcribed. which is usually transcribed as kh in English and French and x in international phonetics. So the š is usually written as sh in the English transcription. All the Tatar words for chess pieces are borrowed from Russian except at 'knight'. but since the 2nd century BC Latin has used this letter to indicate the consonantal sequence ks. The letter is always pronounced as ch in check. Chess Pieces in 74 languages + Finnish 3 English French Italian Spanish 10 Portuguese 4 Catalan Friulian Galician Occitan Romanian Latin 2 Basque sakki chess échecs scacchi ajedrez xadrez escacs scacs xadrez échecs ah lsus ltrunculrum xake. the š however being in scientific use in Finland. The verb to make checkmate is in Irish marbhsháinnigh and in Finnish matittaa. reina rei dama rei re rei rey rege rx errege The j means in most cases the semivowel (as y in yet. which should be pronounced as [ts]. African and Asian countries. for example the Greek word purgoV is transcribed in Latin letters as pyrgos 'rook'.http://www. reina regjine raíña fenno dam.

pešak. šah.htm Dutch schaken koning dame Afrikaans skaak koning dame Frisian skake kening daem German Schach König Dame Danish skak konge dronning Norwegian sjakk konge dame Icelandic ská skaka lovac . reino ferz' ferz' koroleva hetman. kraljica dama dama turo lad'ja laddzjá tura wiea vž veža trdnjava top. šahmat tsar shah mbret kralitsa top . fidhcheall gwyddbwyll echedoù šachmatai šahs male sakk rí rìgh banríon banrìgh caiseal caisteal castell tour bokštas tornis vanker bástya ridire ridire marchog marc'heg žirgas zirdziš ratsu huszár easpag easpaig esgob furlukin rikis laidnis oda futó ceithearnach sáinniú pàn. sakk paraszt + Esperanto Russian Belorussian Ukrainian Polish Czech 13 Slovak 14 Slovenian Croatian 15 Serbian 15 Macedonian Bulgarian 7 Albanian Page 4 of 8 brenin brenhines roue rouanez karalius valdov karalis dma kuningas lipp király vezér ako šahmaty šahmaty šahy szachy šachy šach šah šah šah reo korol' karol' korol' król král krá kralj kralj kralj damo. talv kongur drotning Romansh 17 schah retg dama Maltese cess re regina toren toring stins Turm tårn tårn hrókur rókur tur kastell. gur ak šah šah šah szach šach šach šah šah šah šah šah shah konj. dama. pijun . ko jezdec jazdec konj kuriero slon slon slon goniec stelec strelec lovec peono peška peška pišak pionek pšec pešiak kmet pješak. skaka lovac konj kon kalë lovets ofitser 12 oficer . królowa dáma dáma dama. tsaritsa top mbretëreshë kala 24/01/2013 21:44 PM . šah kral . torri paard perd.shakki. ceatharnach gwerinwr pezh-gwerin pstininkas šach bandinieks šahs ettur šahh gyalog. konj. dama. kula top evalo kon' kon' kin' skoczek. Faroese skák. ruiter hynder Springer springer springer riddari riddari chaval kavallier loper loper fjildhear Läufer løber løper biskup bispur currider isqof pion pion boer Bauer bonde bonde peð finna pur suldat schaak skaak skaak schach skak sjakk skák skák + Irish 6 Gaelic Welsh Breton Lithuanian Latvian Estonian Hungarian 16 ficheall tàileasg. pion pion peška ushtar. tafl kóngur drottning frúgv.http://www.

firzaan ferz der ngome mfalme malkia kišt. c tng cang.http://www. Several foreign letters are underlined and Page 5 of 8 24/01/2013 21:44 PM . piyon piyada pijoda pyjada peška peška peška peška pijada ool ah ah kišt küšt šah šah šah šah šah ša. trelós pióni axiômatikós rouá. kral ah šoh ša korol' korol' pattšah patša patša nojan vezir vezir farzin perzi koroleva ferz' ferz' vazir koroleva merze kale top ruh ruh tura tura tura lad'ja tura terge at at ot at laša. šah + Kalmyk Mongolian Buryat Pahlavi Farsi Arabic Amharic Swahili senterej sataranji.htm Greek 20 skáki vasiliás vasílissa pyrgos . saba padri kövün hüü hübüün pajdag pijde äskärii. wazr oang mepe arqa nje. farzin tergn tereg terge mdajr rox mörn mor' morin asp asb hosaan. con voi sang k'u p'il rats paraš. con nga mal mxedari dzi sus tseriakh. ru kh rj montri. con tng con hoàng hu con tháp bdšh farz. hth.kun (pat. álogo . ut at at at at a"t fil fil fil pil slon fil slon pil teve tš'adrak'i šaxmat shakhmat šallgn šag šaa kiš wä šax shakh ragli. rn nouk raja menteri tir raja menteri benteng con xe.shakki. melekh malka šakhmat melekh malka guójì xiàngqí wáng chesu kingu hòu kuiin tirah j rukku xiàng bishoppu khajal bng poon šakh jing oote + Note that this article is written in the Unicode (UTF-8) Character Set. rats pyd. tabja faras ferese jamadari zan temee temeen pl fil fiil fil. íppos. chesi šatr šatar šatar tšatrang šatrandž han nojon nojon šh šh šatrang mälik negus bersn bers berse frazn vazir. kišt askar pion con tt col p'aik'i zinvor chayal skak chiu tng cang. paidal šah. sus m naito t th gajah gajah con tng. sah + Turkish satranç Azerbaijani ahmat Uzbek šatranž Turkmen küšt Chuvash šahmat Bashkir šahmat Karachay-Balkar šahmat (-la) Kumyk šahmat Karakalpak šahmat Tuvin (höl)šydyraa beedäq medeq kitunda + Hindi Bengali Malay Indonesian Vietnamese Korean Georgian 8 Armenian 9 Hebrew Chinese 19 Japanese šatranj db catur catur c (quc te).oang t'ura t'aguhi cha et'li navak tseriakh ghor ghor kuda kuda con mã.

to check'. However. Geitlin's Finnish-Latin Dictionary uses the word ldus ltrunculrum. Kalmyk: g = / h /. which was thus translated. All of them are feminine words. The close relationship between Irish and Gaelic is obvious. This Portuguese word is related to Spanish ajedrez and comes originally from Sanskrit via arabic and old farsi. It is a cognate of the Latin rx and the same root is found in Hindu and Bengali raja. sáinniú (= +. 1959 (1968). Györkösy Alajos 1960 [1992]). Arabic: ä = a in cat. Table — 5 The English name rook comes from the Sanskrit matami (both adapted from the French [ma] dame) or rouva (from the German Frau 'Mrs'). Back Table — 4 In Brazil and Portugal chess is xadrez. The initial x means here š = sh. The Irish word for rook caiseal is an early (5-6 century) borrowing from Latin castellum.htm explained below. Back — 3 The Finnish word for chess is usually written as shakki. The Irish ceithearnach 'pawn' is the word for the traditional Irish foot-soldier. banrìgh and Page 6 of 8 24/01/2013 21:44 PM .http://www. Simpson. Turkmen: ü = / Y / (Cyrillic letter) Uzbek: ž = French j. P. t and r are retroflex. ö = / o /. Farsi: ž = French j. like the Finnish kuningatar. rook). Johan Gabriel Geitlin in 1883 in his Finnish-Latin dictionary writes both sakki ja shakki. the first being primary.shakki. h = German ch References — 2 My source is Cassell's Latin Dictionary by D. Latin has been used as literal language by scholars in the Western countries in the Middle Ages. = nasalized u. rìgh. banríon. However. There is a tendency to write s instead of sh. eg sampoo 'shampoo' and sokki 'shock'. except for tàileasg 'chess' (also refers to draughts and backgammon. a chariot. Colloquial Finnish words for the queen are daami. but rarely used for the chess queen. note the Friulian (in Northeastern Italy) word roc. with one exception: pawn is pešak or pion. [sh]. Most European languages adapted the word by homophony through the Italian rocco meaning tower. for example in the Finnish chess magazines named Suomen Shakki ('Finland's Chess') and Kirjeshakki (= 'Correspondence Chess'). th is retroflex and aspirated t. ü = / Y / (Cyrillic letters) Mongolian: ü = / Y / (Cyrillic letter) Serbian chess pieces are transcribed as they were Croatian ones. In few words of foreign origin /sh/ is found in the orthography. the usual pronounciation of this word begins with 's'. y [y in yet] Bengali: accents indicate long vowels. the usual /s/. and so on. trap. put in a fix. The other terms are of the same origin as the Irish ones. For most Finns /š/ or /sh/ is merely a foreign phoneme or never been in actual use. = nasalized u. The difference is in accent. ii aa ee = long vowels Armenian: l = g (IPA gamma). Just like in Latin and Spanish. There has been many words for chess in Latin. with hrókur (The Oxford Companion to Chess. š = sh. Fidhcheall. The original meaning of the word ltrunculus was an unknown game. dz is an affricate written also as z' [dz] Azerbaijani: e = e upside down [a in cat]. but these words are usually pronounced as /s/. Table — 6 The Irishrí is the ordinary word for 'king' and is also the word for 'king' in chess. Finnish has just one sibilant. probably from English tables) and pàn (from English pawn). Caisteal is a borrowing from Latin and is the usual word for 'castle'. and in chess. eg lsus ltrunculrius. x = German ch Georgian: ' (apostrophe) indicates an ejective (glottalised) consonant. x = Cyrillic x or German ch Hindi: accents indicate long vowels. the pronounciation is in Portugal [šâdrêš] and in Brazil [šádréis]. j = y in yet. David Hooper & Kenneth Whyld 1984. 'check') is the verbal noun (cf -ing) of the verb sáinnigh 'to corner. through Persian and Arabic rukh. kh is a velar fricative or aspirated stop. in the linguistics written as a dot above or below the letter. The only language other than English that uses a direct transliteration is Icelandic. is the current word for 'queen' and also for the 'queen' in chess. lsus scacchrum (Magyar-Latin szótár.

Table — 9 The Armenian word for rook navak means boat. but both can be used interchangebly. pešak (s) or pješak (c. Asturian is linguistically interesting. tš and dz are affricates transliterated as and j respectively or z' instead of j depending on the source. Maybe phonetic similarities have given a stimulus to this innovation for the new term for bishop (oer < > r). in northern Spain. The Slovak word for knight jazdec means rider. Asturian is a dialect of the Spanish (Castilian) language. spoken in Val d'Aran. Table — 11 In English speaking countries non-players sometimes call rook a castle. arrèi ('king'). In Finnishlinna (literally 'castle') means colloquially castling. The word for pawn gwerinwr ordinarily means countryman or rustic in Welsh. The names for chess pieces in Asturian are as follows: axedrez. singular is perhaps a bit more usual. 'rider') is usually called as k (lit. In addition kraljica for queen is used instead of dama especially among the Serbs. The pion (s) and pijun (c) for pawn is a loan from French. Chess pieces in Armenian: Table — 10 The Spanishajedrez comes originally from Sanskrit: ajedrez < local Arabic aššaran or ašširan < classic Arabic širan < Pelvi (old Farsi) atrang < Sanskrit aturanga = of 4 members. rook tura and finally bishop ofitser just like in Bulgarian. alfi and pezoun ('pawn'. Colloquial Russian terms: queen koroleva. Latin quattuor and Spanish cuatro = 4. cf. the latter plural. This is the case for the Dutchkasteel 'id. the latter being plural. The word for chess gwyddbwyll is an exact cognate of the Irish ficheall meaning literally "wood-intelligence" in both from the German name Fritz. Jezdec 'knight' (lit. Both Serbs and Croats say rohada and rokada for castling. In the case of Welsh. brenhines. The word for knight marchog is the ordinary word for rider or knight. but the chess king rei. reina/dama. Table — 14 The name of the game in Slovak can be either šach or šachy. Brenin. However. So both in Bulgarian and Russian there is a colloquial variant for rook which sounds very much like rook in various European languages. Castell and esgob are borrowings from Latin castellum and episcopus. The fièrço for queen is actually a medieval word (old Spanish alferza) from Arabic (< < Pelvi frazen meaning 'guardian'). and the similarity to words meaning 'tower' in many European languages (eg Italian torre and Ukrainian tura) is merely accidental. in Spanish hormiga and in Asturian formiga. for the bishop there is a colloquial term [frits]. torre. and the word for pawn zinvor means soldier. s) depending on the dialect. alfil. peón and xaque. The names for chess pieces in Aranese are as follows: eds escacs ('chess'). both groups sometimes use laufer or even lojfer for bishop. Table — 7 A colloquial Bulgarian word for rook is tur. — 15 The Serbian and Croatian chess terminology.shakki.http://www. The word for pawn has many variations: pišak (c). rei. caballu. Kralj means king. The ordinary king in Asturian is perréi. marchog and gwerinwr are native Celtic words in Welsh. in plural pezous). Colloquially. Aranese (in Occitan/Gascon/Aranese aranés) is a variety of Pyrenean Gascon (a dialect of the Occitan language). eg French torre. cavaler.htm ceatharnach are native Celtic words in Gaelic. Table — 8 The Georgian word for queen t'ura means 'jackal'. The former is singular. cf Breton marc'heg. This used to be a name given to German soldiers and officers in the WW II by the Bulgarians. fièrço / arrèino ('queen'). The Asturian words resemble Spanish ones. eg ant in Latin is formica. gwyddbwyll. literally 'fortress'. not an independent language. tourre. dama = lady. which is now uncommon among players. because it has retained its initial f unlike Spanish. Table — 12 Apart from Bulgarian . more generally linnoitus 'castling'. 'horse'). brenin and brehines are the usual words for 'king' and 'queen'. Table — 13 The name for chess in Czech can be either šach or šachy. Page 7 of 8 24/01/2013 21:44 PM .' too.

The colloquial word for the huszár 'knight' is ló (= horse). konj = horse and finally pešak means infantryman or pedestrian. the second word is another loan from French ( roi) as transliterated in Greek. Vallader : rai dama tuor curridur.shakki. The word íppos ( ) for knight literally means horse . kula = tower. Puter : raig dama tuor curridur. in classical Greek zatríkion) was a popular board-game in ancient Greece. The word trelós ( ) for bishop means fool or crazy and is one of the chess terms that have been transferred to Greek from French. The French fou2 'fool' comes from Latin while fou1 'chess bishop' comes from the Persian pil 'chess piece or elephant'.http://www. and the word for queen vezér (= military leader) is királyn (= queen). lovac = hunter. rook and bishop in other dialects: Sursilvan : retg dama tuor currider. transcribed also as sakh) or roua ( ): the first word is the common warning and descriptive name for the king in a number of languages. Table — 17Romansh has six dialects. queen. The futár is no longer used for pawn. Surmiran : rètg dama tor curridier. Nowdays nobody would use the word zatríki in Greece in order to describe chess. The word pióni ( ) for pawn is another loan from French (pion). — 19 In Chinese: Table — 20Greek: zatríki ( . Table KemTS:n psivulle Page 8 of 8 24/01/2013 21:44 PM . álogo ( ).net/kerhot/KemTS/nap-pieces. Romansh is a tiny language in Switzerland.htm kraljica = queen. In Greek check is either sah ( . The king. Sutsilvan : retg dama tur curider. They use (skáki) instead. top means does the second given word. — 16 The Hungarian word for pawn paraszt (= peasant) is indeed the informal version of the gyalog. skaka = jumper. Grischun dialect is used here.

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