From Eburacon to York (Re: The Need for Debate)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, December 8, 2004, 18:03|
On Tuesday, December 7, 2004, at 08:21 , John Cowan wrote:
> Steg Belsky scripsit:
>> York comes from Norse "Jorvik"? I thought it came from Latin
>> "Eboricum" or something like that...
> "Eboracum", yes, and before that from some Celtic name.
The old British name was _Eburacon_ /ebu'ra:kon/ which was latinized as
_Eburacum_ (with the same vowel quantities & stress as the British).
The best Classical Latin spellings was _Eburacum_; the spelling _Eboracum_
reflects the Vulgar Latin change of [U] --> [o] - but the stress remained
on the /a/ (in VL length had ceased to be phonemic). Some of the earlier
instances of Eboracum_ in Ptolemy may be 'corrections' by later copyists.
Both spellings were current in Britain and Bede, writing in the 8th cent,
has both spellings according to what source he is using when mentioning
The morpheme -aco- /a:ko/ denoted "place" and still survives in modern
Welsh as -og (earlier -awg), cf.
rhedynog "bracken-patch" <-- _rhedyn_ "bracken"
ceirchog "oat field" <-- ceirch "oats"
celynnog "holly thicket" <-- celyn "holly"
There is, however, debate as to the meaning of the root ebur(o)-. Some
people take it as being an old root meaning "yew" (apparently the Old
Irish _ibhar_ glossed as 'taxus'), and thus Eburacum = "place of yews".
But _Ebruros_ is attested as a personal name in Gaul, so some think it
meant: "Eburos' estate". On the balance the evidence seems to favor "place
of yews", but it is not certain.
The modern Eelsh name for the city is _Efrog_ ['e:vrQg]. If the
Romano-British name had been taken over by the English, then the modern
English (after Norman spelling 'deforms') would probably be: *Everock'
> But the Old English
> name was "Eoforwic", a case of folk etymology -- the meaningless Latin
> was reinterpreted as "Wild-boar-town".
There is some evidence that the Romanized inhabitants of York understood
the name to contain a word for 'boar', presumably confusing VL /abr-/ ~
/aber-/ (Classical Latin _aper_, gen. _apris_) with Ebur- ~ Ebor-. In an
inscription of 237 CE found in Bordeaux, a boar appears as the 'canting
badge' of Eburacum. If this was common, it would have assisted the Old
> If the name had descended unchanged,
> it would have come out Everwich, or something of the sort -- but when the
> Danes took over they simplified "Eofor-" to "Jor-" and replaced the ending
> with their cognate form "-vik". "York" is a further reduced descendant.
Yep - and is by good fortune that we do not have the city name spelled
"Yorwick" but pronounced "York"! Luckily saner counsels have prevailed
with this name.
On Wednesday, December 8, 2004, at 01:01 , And Rosta wrote:
> Eaverwich, capital of Eaverishire. Pronounced [i:v@rItS], obviously.
> By your generation, yes. [i:v(@)rIdZ] by those of years less tender
> than yours...
Quite right. "Eaverwich"/"Everwich" would certainly be ['i:vridz] to us of
mature years, just as "Norwich" rhymes with 'porridge' in the old rhyme
about the Man in the Moon :)
There's quite a bit of material above for those who like alternative
PS - just to cheer up And, and let him know that this papist brother found
no offense in his "John II" mail. It seems to describe our List custodian
very well :)
Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
which is not so much a twilight of the gods
as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]