Re: Balkan?

From: x99lynx@...
Message: 13097
Date: 2002-04-08

"Piotr Gasiorowski" <gpiotr@...> wrote:
<<The Greek did not "trade" <b> for <v/w> -- there was no jump at all. Greek
beta was already pronounced [v] at the time (as it is today), so Gk. blakhoi
= [vlaxi:], a perfectly faithful rendering of the South Slavic word *vlax- <
*volx- from Germanic *walx (with the normal southern metathesis of *-olC- >

But, wait. The Greek must have traded <b> for <v/w> to get "Gk. blakhoi"
however it was pronounced. And despite the change in pronounciation, <b>
might have been still been read as [b] by non-Greeks. <Blaccorum> which I
believe is in a Latin Papal document is an example. And I believe the same
thing happens in Saxo. And if the Germanic *walx ever made it into Greek
directly, we might also expect <balk->. There is no reason why the Greeks
couldn't have heard it both ways, but stuck with the Slavic version.

Piotr also wrote:
<<"Balk(an)" may not appear in the toponymy of Turkey, but it does in Turkic
placenames of Central Asia. I know too little about Turkic to offer
first-hand expertise, but I can do some more checking later.>>

Well, again, I don't know what Callimaco actually wrote or what he based his
naming on. As far as I know, the actual application of <Balkan> as a proper
name in Turkish to the mountains (or the region) might even be later than all
this. Again, it would appear that Callimaco could have mistaken a generic
descriptive term for a specific name. (e.g., <Apache> = generic "enemy".
The name heard from neighbors was taken to be a formal name.)

<<I have also considered an etymology based on Turkic *bAlk- 'shining,
bright' (referring to the snow-capped summits).>>

Correct me if I'm wrong but there are a lot of place names in the Balkans
that are not Turkish and some are even of uncertain etymology. So, if balkan
could be from *bAlk- (oh, no, not 'shining, bright' again - it was
everywhere!), then that may also open the door to other, non-Turkish

And, by the way, what did the Turks first call the "valachus"?

Piotr also wrote:
<<I think Callimachus (his Latinised pen-name) did have some first-hand
Balkan experience. By 1490 he had been working in the Polish diplomatic
service for sixteen years, and had visited Istanbul several times with
various embassies. Neither Poles nor Italians would have had any problems
with the sound [v], and the term <Wol/och> 'Vlach' (with East Slavic
phonetics) had long been familiar to the Poles (we reserve the West Slavic
variant <Wl/och> for the Italians, so Callimachus was a Wl/och himself, and
he surely knew enough Polish to realise that.)>>

I would suggest that Callimachus, if he did not say the word was Turkish, may
have been reporting a non-Turkish word. And if he did not hear - or read in
Greek, say - a [v] sound, he would not have made the connection between
<wloch> and <balk->. I am not saying that anyone called these the "wolochi
mountains" or the "wlochi mountains." <Balkan> if it comes from the <walha>
word would have obviously had to have traveled a different path. One that
made its common source perhaps as unrecognizable in those days as <welsh> or
<walloon>. And again, I don't know what Callimachus actually wrote.

BTW, the difference in names -- <woloch> and <wloch> -- apparently did not
mean that scholars at least thought that the two words were unrelated. I
have this from somewhere on the web: "We can read in the biography of
Zbigniew Olenicki, Bishop of Crakow (written by Filippo Buonaccorsi
Callimaco... that Poles considered Rumanians to be Italians (Italos) and
called them by the same name (Italiae indigenas)." (Obviously, the writer
actually means the same name was used in Latin, not Polish.)