Re: [tied] Kraków and other enigmas

From: Christopher Gwinn
Message: 9217
Date: 2001-09-08

Piotr wrote:
> Several questions can be asked at this point: What language was
spoken in the area of Kraków when the Slavs arrived? Truth is, we
don't know. It could be some form of Germanic, or a residual
Carpathian language related to Dacian, or (improbably) unassimilated
remnants of a Celtic language. Did the Slavs rename the place or
adopt an old name? Again, we don't know. Kraków (also older feminine
Cracco(uu)a = "Krakowa") looks like a possessive adjective, but the
base *krak- is enigmatic. Place-names in *-ov- can sometimes be
formed from words denoting natural features, and one very outstanding
natural feature of Kraków is Wawel, the site of the Royal Castle, a
limestone hill overlooking the Vistula. Now, a Gaulish reconstruction
*cracos 'limestone rock' has been proposed on the basis of placenames
in Western Europe (only Chris Gwinn can tell if there is any
substance to it), so maybe "the Krak" was the original Celtic name of
the hill, inherited by whoever replaced the Celts and passed on to
the Slavs.

I am not certain about the origin of the name Krakow, but there does
appear to be a Celtic root *cracco- meaning "rock/rocky" (it is
certainly known in Gaulish), and an ending in -oua could certainly be
Celtic as well.

- Chris Gwinn