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Numele vechi al Moldovei (Moldua) explicat prin apelativul protogermanic *moldwa

Publication: Philologica Jassyensia, XI (1)
Publisher:Institutul de Filologie Română „A. Philippide”
Abstract:[The Explanation of the Old Name of Moldavia (Moldua) through the Proto-Germanic Appellative *moldwa]
This article is meant to sustain, by a series of new arguments, the etymological line Hasdeu–Rosetti–Moldovanu, according to which the name Moldova has an Old Germanic origin. Almost a century and a half ago, B.P. Hasdeu explained Moldova as ultimately derived from Goth. mulda ‘dust’. More recently, in his Istoria limbii române, A. Rosetti – although quite skeptical in regard to possibilities of proving Old Germanic sources for any significant number of Romanian words – considered that „only the explanation of the name of Moldova through Gothic is fully justified” (transl. A.P.). Quite many supplementary arguments in support of an Old Germanic origin for the name under discussion were put forward by D. Moldovanu in two long articles, both published in 1982. The Romanian linguist drew the conclusion that the river-name Moldova appears to be based on a compound *muld-ahwa (“a river with banks of loose soil”) which was probably created in the Old Germanic language spoken by the Taifali, who are known to have settled in the valley of Moldova in the 3rd-4th centuries of our time. However, in a way that differs from Moldovanu’s, the author of the present article primarily focuses on the fact that the Taifali were not exactly Goths, but rather allies or subjects of the former. The Taifali most probably were heirs of the ancient West-Germanic populations (Elbgermanen) which had settled in various parts of Eastern Europe long before the Goths (beginning with the end of the 3rd century BC), and which represented a dominant component of archaeological cultures such as Przeworsk and Poieneşti-Lukaševka. Therefore, in assuming that Moldova (with Moldua as its earliest recorded version) has an Old Germanic origin, one should also take into account that that the Taifali probably spoke a language related to West Germanic, rather than to Gothic (generally labelled as “East-Germanic”), and one should doubt the idea that Goth. mulda (with u in its root, and with ‘dust’ given as unique meaning) is the only possible starting point for an etymology of the name under discussion. Actually, quite a number of recorded West-Germanic (as well as Scandinavian) cognates of Goth. mulda show o in their roots and they also show semantic spheres that are much more complex than the one of the Gothic term. Notable are Old High German molta – translated by Latin pulvis, humus, solum, terra – and Old English molde, which was perpetuated into Modern English as mold or mould, with meanings such as: 1. ‘loose, friable soil, rich in humus, and fit for planting’; 2. (poet.) ‘the earth, the ground, the earth of the grave’; 3. (obs.) ‘earth as the substance of the human body’. Moreover, both Gothic and West-Germanic contain terms through which a form like Moldua can be clarified not as based on a compound (such as *muld-ahwa), but rather on a derivative *moldwa. The latter can be analyzed as made of an o-grade variant of the IE verbal root *mel(ə)- ‘to crush, grind’, extended by a (specific Germanic) noun-making suffix -d-, plus an archaic suffix -wa, which is visible in Old Germanic terms such as Goth. sparwa and Old English spearwa (> sparrow) and in many others with structures of the same type. Taking all these into consideration, this author draws the conclusion that the old form Moldua perfectly reflects a Proto- Germanic derivative *moldwa, which must have designated a river that flowed through a territory with loose soil, good for agriculture. As for the evolution of the form Moldua, the following stages can be deduced: Móldua (with the original disyllabic pronunciation /′moldwa/) > Móldua (trisyllabic /′molduwa/) > Mólduva > Móldova > Moldóva.
Key words:Moldova, Old Germanic, Gothic, the Hasdeu–Rosetti–Moldovanu line, Taifali, West-Germanic attestations, diachronic phonology, semantics, new interpretation
Language: Romanian

Citations to this publication: 0

References in this publication: 9

3Adrian PoruciucProblema vechilor germanisme păstrate în limba românăSIL1, 1052008
1Adrian PoruciucLingvistica istorică ieşeană: între realizări şi promisiuni de onoratPhil. Jass., II (2), 283-2942006pdf
160Alexandru RosettiIstoria limbii române
Ediție definitivă
Editura Științifică și Enciclopedică1986
5Dragoș MoldovanuEtimologia hidronimului MoldovaALIL, XXVIII, 51981-1982pdf
228Gheorghe IvănescuIstoria limbii româneEditura Junimea1980; 2000
19Ariton VraciuLimba daco-geţilorEditura Facla1980
2Ion GhețieMoldova – cuvînt de origine gotică?SCL, XXVII (3), 3071976
343Alexandru CiorănescuDicționarul etimologic al limbii române
Diccionario etimológico rumano
Universidad de La Laguna; Editura Saeculum I.O.1958; 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007
144Ovid DensusianuIstoria limbii române
I. Originile
Ernest Leroux; J. Byck1901; 1961

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