Re: [tied] Fjall, pilis, polis...

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 7543
Date: 2001-06-10

It's getting really fascinating. The non-Satem form *gord-o- (Baltic *gard-a-) may be a relatively recent loan from some western branch, almost certainly (Proto-?)Germanic. As it succeeded in replacing the (still conjectural) "pilis" term in Slavic but not in Baltic, the Slavs were probably the original borrowers who passed the word on to the Balts.
Slavic *polje is an old *-jo-m neuter, while <opole> is a typical nomen loci in *-Ije < *-ijo-m (as in Pomorze 'Pomerania' < *po-morIje 'seaside' : *morje 'sea'). However, *-Ije derivatives are formed to various stem types, including old -i-stems (which tended to fall together with -jo-/-ja-stems already in Proto-Slavic). A hypothetical pre-Slavic *polis < *polh1-i-s (feminine, as in Greek and Lithuanian) would have yielded *polI ~ *polja, producing derivatives indistinguishable from those of *polje < *polh2-jo-m. The resultant formal convergence would have inspired folk-etymological associations between "field" and "rampart", eventually helping to eliminate *polI as a distinct lexical item and possibly to introduce *polje in some contexts where *polI or *polja had been used.
The i-stem seems to have been proterokinetic: *pólh1is, Gen. *plh1-éi-s. Baltic has generalised the weak vocalism of the root, Greek the o-grade. Sanskrit has a root noun, perhaps independently formed from *pelh1-.
Let's continue this thread, and thanks for starting it. We may be onto something interesting.
----- Original Message -----
From: Tomas Baranauskas
Sent: Sunday, June 10, 2001 5:45 PM
Subject: Re: [tied] Fjall, pilis, polis...

>>I still maintain that *pelh2- (including Slavic *polje) is a different root, though if *polh1- _had_ survived in Slavic, a partial semantic overlap of homonymous roots would not be surprising. I wonder if Polish opole < *o(b)-pol-ije (an old administrative unit, grouping several villages) might not derive from hypothetical **pol(i)- 'town, fort' rather than *polje 'field. Semantically, it would fit very nicely, as *ob- means "around".
Cf. Lith. apygarda "district, circuit" (apy- "around" + gard-) - if it is not neologism of Simonas Daukantas (1793-1864) - the author, who liked to create new words.
>>The chief difficulty is that Slavic **pol(i)- is conjectural: it does not seem to be attested in placenames (other than Opole [= German Oppeln]) and the pan-Slavic term for "town" is *gordU.
Lith. gardas means "pen, fence, enclosure; stall". This word failed to replace the word <pilis> in the Baltic languages. Nevertheless we can trace such tendencies in the Curonian and Samogitian toponymy. First of all there are three Lith. oikonyms with the root gard- -- all in West Lithuania:
Gardamas - town in S'ilute. district;
Gardeliai - village in Kelme. district;
Gardis'ke. - village in S'ilale. district.
In the documents of the last quarter of the 16th century much more placenames of this type is mentioned in Samogitia (I mention them in Ruthenian spelling, as they appear in the documents):
Gardelis - land in Liauda manor, Veliuona distr.;
Gardel'kalnas - hill (on which are "graves") in Padubisys manor, Kraz'iai distr.;
Gardpiavnia - soil in Paju:ris distr.;
Gardupia - rivulet in Vidukle. distr., near Little Pale.kiai manor;
Gardy (also Gordy) - manor in Kraz'iai distr., on the rivulet Krakles;
Gardyny - field in Bielevic'i manor, Raseiniai distr.;
Gardys'ki - village in Jaunodava manor, Kars'uva distr.;
Gardelovki - land in Paju:ris distr., Garilauki manor;
Gorda - river in Gru:ste. distr., Gordy manor; in Seda manor, Tels'iai distr.; in Veliuona distr., Vol'montovic'i and Birs'tiny fields;
Gordeny - manor in Kraz'iai distr., near the river Dubysa; village in Padubisys manor;
Gordina - river in Vies've.nai distr., Kus'lutis'ki manor.;
Gordino - in S'arnele. manor, Vies've.nai distr.
Gordova and Gorduva - river in Veliuona distr., Liauda manor or "field";
Gordovo - manor in Gru:ste. distr., on the river Varduva;
Gordy - manor in Vies've.nai distr,;
Gordy - manor in Gru:ste. distr., on the river Gorda;
Gordy - meadow in Seda manor, Tels'iai distr.
(From: Sprogis I. Geograficheskiy slovar' drevney Zhomoitskoi zemli XVI stoletiya. Vil'na, 1888, p. 66, 82.)
The earliest evidence comes from the Ceklis land of South Curonia (now Tels'iai, Plunge., Skuodas and Maz.eikiai districts of Lithuania) - the castle Garde is mentioned together with 43 other castles of Ceklis in the document of 1253 (the term "castle" is not used, but all place names may be identified with certain hillforts). Castle of Garde = manor of Gordy (in Vies've.nai distr.) = modern town Z'emaic'iu Kalvarija (*Gardai renamed to Kalvarija in 1639).
Though some of the place names, mentioned above may be connected with the modern meaning of the word "gardas", some of them, and particularly the last one (Garde of 1253) are obviously applied to a castle.
On the other hand we have such place name as Pylene (Pilene) in the same list of Ceklis castles (1253). In the Duvzare land of Curonia the castle Empilten is mentioned in the same document of 1253 (=modern I:piltis/Impiltis, Kretinga distr., Lithuania). Cf. Piltene - main residence of the Bishop of Curonia (though it was not mentioned in 1253).
Thus we can see, that Baltic root pil- could be replaced by gard- in the meaning of "castle", but pilis survived. I think a similar process, which was more "successful", erased the memory of Slavic *pol(i)- "town, castle". The process might be connected with appearance of a new type of fortifications; perhaps this happened in times, when the Slavs still lived in a comparatively small area.
Polish <opole>, as you noted, may bear traces of the extinct pole "castle". "Pole" (Lith. "laukas") as a kind of territorial organisation is also worth attention.
See: Wojtkowiak Z. "Pole" jako jednostka osadniczo-terytorialna na Litwie w XVI w. (na przykladzie powiatu wilkomirskiego) // Zeszyty naukowe uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu. Historia. - Poznan, 1971. - Zesz. 11, p. 157-173.
In this article you'll find a brief review and references on "pole" structure in the other countries (opole is treated as a kind of such structure).