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Roumania, alligators, "this here" (was: Just a Little Taste ...)

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Monday, April 12, 1999, 16:10
Raymond A. Brown wrote:

> In unstressed syllables the pattern was simpler, but the details differ for > western & eastern Romance.
This seems like a good place to ask: is there any accounting for the form "Roumania/Rumania" in English, from the French "Roumanie"? In other words, why the [u] in the first syllable? The Romanian spelling has been "Romania", with a-circumflex (meaning a high central vowel normally written i-circumflex) since the adoption of the Latin alphabet in the 19th century.
> (I'm > pretty sure there was a bit of Arabic influence in getting the Italian 'il' > and Spanish 'el' instead of 'lo' [I know the latter is used in Spanish as a > neuter article :) ], so this is maybe not implausible).
If so, why were all those Arabic nouns borrowed with al- prefix intact? Apparently al- was not felt by Old Spanish speakers as an article, any more than "el/al" was felt by English speakers as an article in "alligator" < "el lagarto". (And then there's American slang *hoosegow* 'prison' < "juzgado".)
> cf. > colloquial English "this 'ere").
Pronounced [DISj@R] in my dialect. -- John Cowan You tollerday donsk? N. You tolkatiff scowegian? Nn. You spigotty anglease? Nnn. You phonio saxo? Nnnn. Clear all so! 'Tis a Jute.... (Finnegans Wake 16.5)