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#1
Old 05-14-2009, 08:09 AM
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Why is Italy called 'Włochy' in Polish?

Looking through this list of foreign names for Italy, almost all the languages whose script I can decipher have a name for Italy that is clearly related to "Italia". The exceptions being the artificial language Lojban, possibly Hungarian (always a law unto itself), and Polish, in which language Italy is called 'Włochy'. I see that 'włochy' apparently also means 'hair', but I don't know whether that is just a coincidence.

Now, unless my pronunciation is way off, I can't see how 'Włochy' comes from the same root as the other Italy-words. So where does it come from? A tribe of hairy Italians who marauded through Warsaw?
#2
Old 05-14-2009, 08:20 AM
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I grew up in a Polish-speaking house, and never knew this (nobody ever talked about Italy, I guess).


Looking on the internet, I find that t's also the name of a district of Warsaw, apparently their "Little Italy":

http://wikitravel.org/en/Warsaw/Wlochy


Apparently the Gothic name for "Roman" was "Vlach", whence Wlochy:

Quote:
Vlach--This comes from a Gothic word meaning "Roman," and it is a very common designation for us in English (for example, this is the only title we are listed under in the Encyclopedia Britannica). The Slavs learned this word from the Goths, and so it has continued to the present; in fact, the Poles still refer to an Italian as "Wloch" and to Italy as "Wlochy."
http://farsarotul.org/nl2_3.htm



Maybe they were hairy, to Gothic eyes.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 05-14-2009 at 08:22 AM.
#3
Old 05-14-2009, 08:55 AM
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There's a region of Romania called Wallachia from the same root.
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Old 05-14-2009, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
I grew up in a Polish-speaking house, and never knew this (nobody ever talked about Italy, I guess).


Looking on the internet, I find that t's also the name of a district of Warsaw, apparently their "Little Italy":

http://wikitravel.org/en/Warsaw/Wlochy


Apparently the Gothic name for "Roman" was "Vlach", whence Wlochy:



http://farsarotul.org/nl2_3.htm

Maybe they were hairy, to Gothic eyes.
This will tie directly into Romanian -- remember that the Romanians' claim is to be the cultural descendants of Trajan's colonists in Dacia. First, the southern principality of historic Romania is Wallachia -- if you picture Romania as an open laptop with a soccer ball sitting on it, the soccer ball is Transylvania, the display screen is Moldavia, and the keyboard is Wallachia. Second, there are enclaves throughout the Balkans of people speaking Romanian-like dialects (Aromanian) and they are termed Vlachs.
#5
Old 05-14-2009, 09:20 AM
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Ah, vlach, I see (although I'm having a hard time picturing the laptop/soccer ball thing).

I also see now that the Lojban word does in fact include the sequence 'itali'. The Hungarian name, meanwhile, really doesn't seem to relate to 'ital' or 'vlach'. But it doesn't surprise me too much that a somewhat isolated language like Hungarian does its own thing.
#6
Old 05-14-2009, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Polycarp View Post
if you picture Romania as an open laptop with a soccer ball sitting on it, the soccer ball is Transylvania, the display screen is Moldavia, and the keyboard is Wallachia.
Suddenly, all the "if you picture Michigan as a hand" explanations I've ever heard sound pathetic.
#7
Old 05-14-2009, 10:21 AM
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Could this in any way be connected to the name Caesar, which which originally may have meant "hairy" before Julius brought it to greater fame? I don't know the etymology here, so perhaps this is unlikely or the timing is way off...
#8
Old 05-14-2009, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Suddenly, all the "if you picture Michigan as a hand" explanations I've ever heard sound pathetic.
Wikipedia on Wallachia. The maps may make my rather odd analogy make more sense.
#9
Old 05-14-2009, 10:42 AM
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I assure you, I meant that as a compliment to your analogy-writin' skillz.
#10
Old 05-14-2009, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ximenean View Post
Ah, vlach, I see (although I'm having a hard time picturing the laptop/soccer ball thing).

I also see now that the Lojban word does in fact include the sequence 'itali'. The Hungarian name, meanwhile, really doesn't seem to relate to 'ital' or 'vlach'. But it doesn't surprise me too much that a somewhat isolated language like Hungarian does its own thing.
The Hungarian name is also derived from Vlach. Olaszország = Olasz + ország (country/land). Olasz is a cognate of vlach.

Although the derivation is clear when you see it, I've always liked the Polish word for "Rome," which is Rzym. Sounds like "ZHIM" when you say it.

Last edited by pulykamell; 05-14-2009 at 11:08 AM.
#11
Old 05-14-2009, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ximenean View Post
Ah, vlach, I see (although I'm having a hard time picturing the laptop/soccer ball thing).

I also see now that the Lojban word does in fact include the sequence 'itali'. The Hungarian name, meanwhile, really doesn't seem to relate to 'ital' or 'vlach'. But it doesn't surprise me too much that a somewhat isolated language like Hungarian does its own thing.
So you've mentioned Hungarian now twice without saying what the word is and so I had to go look it up - Olaszország.

I know that ország means "land of" or something like that -- Hungarian for "Hungary" is Magyarország.

That leaves Olasz - it's quite plausible to me that this is related to Vlach or Wlach.

And, indeed, Wikipedia says it derives from Germanic walha, which to me is pretty clearly related to Wealas, the Anglo-Saxon word for "stranger," whence "Welsh."

And, of course, clicking the link reveals all:

*Walachia/Wallachians
*Vlach
*Włochy/Wołochowie
*Oláh/Olasz/Vlachok
*Wales, Welsh
*Cornwal
*Wallonia

All derive from this root.
#12
Old 05-14-2009, 11:22 AM
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Hungarian, by the way, is not technically a language isolate, but it has no well-known close relatives. The Uralic or Finno-Ugric language phylum has two main subgroups: Finnic, which includes Finnish, Estonian, and a herd of small languages spoken in European Russia (Mordvin, Mari, Liv, etc.); and Ugric, which includes only Hungarian and two small languages (Khanty and Mansi) spoken just east of the Urals in what is technically Western Siberia.

Any relationship they may have to the rest of the languages of Europe (ancestral rather than borrowings) would go waaaay back before Proto-Indo-European, and is only slightly less hypothetical than the Loch Ness Monster.
#13
Old 05-14-2009, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polycarp View Post
and is only slightly less hypothetical than the Loch Ness Monster.
Well, then, if it's such a sure thing, why didn't you say so!!!!!



<heads off to go watch the Nessie Cam again>
#14
Old 05-14-2009, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ximenean View Post
...this list of foreign names for Italy....
Apparently France is referred to as "Frakkland" in Icelandic and "Frakland" in Faroese.

What can I say--the French, they're lovers not fighters. Or at least the Vikings thought so.
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#15
Old 05-14-2009, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by MEBuckner View Post
"Frakland" in Faroese
It's called Egyptian, dummy Honored Sir.









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Last edited by KneadToKnow; 05-14-2009 at 02:57 PM.
#16
Old 05-14-2009, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ximenean View Post
I see that 'włochy' apparently also means 'hair', but I don't know whether that is just a coincidence.
I've always known "hair" to be "Włosy" (as in with an S) ... which only sounds similar to "Włochy". It's kind of simillar to "cat" and "hat".

Anyway, if in some ye-olde-polish hair was ever pronounced as Włosy... then it would be extra funny calling an italian "a hairy wog*" ... and I've never heard that exclaimed in Poland.



* In Australia this is not so offensive to my greek and italian friends, I don't know how offensive it is in the US - so if I'm infringing ANY rules, please replace it to the appropriate PC word.
#17
Old 05-15-2009, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by MEBuckner View Post
Apparently France is referred to as "Frakkland" in Icelandic and "Frakland" in Faroese.

What can I say--the French, they're lovers not fighters. Or at least the Vikings thought so.
That's not much different from the other Germanic languages where it's Frankrike/Frankreich etc.. They all just mean kingdom/land of the French. (Franks)

Last edited by naita; 05-15-2009 at 09:41 AM. Reason: changed Scandinavian to Germanic
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