----- Original Message
October 02, 2002 9:30 AM
Subject: [tied] Who
named the rivers of Europe?
> The obvious flaws in this example
> 1. How do we know what the Slavs called the Elbe if they were
Because the name Laba exists. If see fresh
snow in the morning, I assume that it snowed during the night. Some philosophers
might rebuke me for that, but I somehow get along with this kind of deductive
reasoning. The form Laba was produced by liquid metathesis -- an early process
in word-initial position. It can't have taken place in "literate" times (which
begun in the tenth century at best for the western Slavs) but predated them
by about three centuries.
> 2. When the Slavs did become literate
enough to leave us their name for the Elbe, they must have gotten that literacy
from folks who would have also informed them of the "proper name" of the
No, they got their literacy from Christian
clerks a long time later. When settling in depopulated Central Europe they
surely found some remnants of the local Germanic population, but I doubt if
there were any readers of Pliny among them.
> 3. Well before the Slavic name for the
Elbe was first recorded, Slavs living on the Elbe were in contact with Franks
and their clerics who were aware of everything from Theodoric to the Latin name
for the Elbe. In Charlemagne's court, western Slavic princes were already
called "ancient allies" of the Franks.
That was political courtesy. Beside,
Frankish/Slavic contacts did not mean that the Slavs invited Frankish clerics
to lecture them about their own toponymy. Classical learning came to the
Slavs centuries later, with Christianity.
> 4. German clerics were well
established among the Western Slavs well before
the first recording of the
Slavic name for the Elbe.
That's not enough. You'd need some German
clerics teaching Slavs hydronymy before the metathesis of liquids.