Frank Jacobs details the linguistic and historical influences that have shaped chess terminology over the centuries.
From the very beginning of chaturanga, this piece—originally called asva, Sanskrit for “horse”—has firmly maintained its equine association. Of course, this is likely because it is the only piece that is able to jump over the heads of the other pieces. As the map shows, the variation in nomenclature is fairly limited: The piece is either named after the animal (e.g., caballo in Spanish), its rider (e.g., riddari in Icelandic), or the movement it makes (e.g., springare in Swedish).
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