In the case of the Volga, the former theory is more likely, although the latter one existed already in the Middle Ages (but it’s unlikely, as the river had a different name, Itil/Idel, back then and Volga appeared only later on, after Kotrag’s Bulgars had settled there). Still, “officially” the two are not related, as Volga supposedly comes from a proto-form of “vlaga”, i.e. moisture. As for the etymology of Bulgar – I have a book dedicated to that specific matter, where the author has gathered 180+ explanations given throughout the ages, so it’s safe to say it’s uncertain.


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