njawilliams at gmail.com
Thu May 24 11:31:53 BST 2012
The Magyars borrowed this word from their Slav neighbours. Német is the Hungarian for 'German' and Németország is 'Germany'. My Hungarian etymological dictionary (Zaicz Gábor, Etimológiai szótár, Budapest 2006) does not mention an Arabic or Turkish origin for német, nemec, but suggests the word is from a Slavonic root meaning 'dumb, of unintelligible speech.' Néma, a borrowing from Slavonic, is the ordinary Hungarian word for 'dumb, mute'. The first occurrence of Német in Hungarian is as a personal name from the tenth century. This looks too early to have come from Turkish < Arabic.
The Hungarians also borrowed the Vlach- word meaning 'Latin speaker' from the Slavs. The Poles call 'Italy' Wlochy i.e. 'Vlachs', and the Hungarians call the country Olaszország.
On 24 May 2012, at 10:52, Hewitt, Stephen wrote:
> Pour la petite histoire, the Arabic word for Austria is nimsâ. Where on earth did they get that from? From Ottoman Turkish, who took the universal Slavic word nemcy lit. “deaf ones”, i.e. those with whom it is like talking to a brick wall, in other words, for most Slavs, “Germans”, from their nearest neighbours and for many centuries, vassals, the Bulgarians, who used it mainly for the Austrian Empire (their most immediate experience of German-speakers). Everyone is someone else’s basic foreigner…
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