Just curious if anyone knows why the Russian words for Germany the country and German the language are completely different. My wife and I were just discussing this, and neither one of us has any idea. Thanks! :-)
The word "Nemets" and its variants refer to German in many Slavic languages. It literally means "mute", and was apparently in reference to them not being Slavic speakers.
In most other Slavic languages the name of the country is also based on Nemets.
In Russian though, the name of the country was taken from the Latin word Germania, although they use the usual Slavic word for the language.
English: Germany / German
Russian : Германия/Немецкий
Also the surname of late actor Leonard Nimoy is related to the same root word as Nemets. Not sure how that works, it might have been a surname for people of German descent in wherever he was from (I think Ukraine). Not sure.
Also in the broadest sense "немец" it's alien people. People who do not speak Russian. Sorry for my English.
On Ukrainian it sounds like this: Німеччина Німецька мова [Нимеччина Нимецька мова] (Германия Немецкий язык)
My old Russian professor said the reason the Germans are referred to as немец/mutes (non Slavic speakers) was because they were the very first non Slavic people the Rus encountered. After that, as they encountered other groups, they began to differentiate.
My favorite Russian 'two words' for one thing: Hippopotamus/гиппопотам. But they also refer to it as Бегемот: From the bible - specifically Job 40:15-24 - The Behemoth.
How cool is that? :>p I can't look at a Hippo anymore without thinking Behemoth. :>)
Lol - and now that I've completely threadjacked: Lose yourself for a half hour and look up the argument on the origin of the Russian word for forty/сорок. My personal favorite; It required 40 pelts of a small animal (sable/squirrel) sewn together to make an overcoat. People carried them as money/trade because they were readily available and had a relatively stable value, and eventually it just rolled into the numerical lexicon.
/In Russian class we used to count/translate: twenty, thirty, bag of squirrels, fifty...
//Hey, we thought it was funny. Like saying спабс for thanks.
So if the name "Germany" (or Германия) is from Latin, how does that explain that in the major romance languages, the name for both Germany and German is some variant of the root "aleman-" (i.e. Alemaña in Spanish, Allemagne in French, Alemanha in Portuguese)?
Okay, I know this conversation is going beyond just Russian now. I apologize. ;-)
What szeraja said is not exactly correct...
The "Alemanii" were a tribe of what is now south-western Germany. Most modern Romance languages (and Arabic, Turkish and some others) derive their name for German/Germany from them.
In German "allemanisch" refers to dialects such as Swabian, Swiss German, Alsatian etc spoken in that area.
That's a great article, avrichard, thanks! The article here on Alemanni adds a little bit--when the Romans first encountered the tribe/confederation--and that on the Altmanni here adds a bit more. (For both use the search facility, as my links were broken.) Interestingly, only one derivation is listed by them for the term. Both books were originally from the same publisher, and are old (but in the public domain . . . and the Latin dictionary is still very often referred to and is still in print). [Fixted the broken links to point to the first entry of each dictionary.]
Hmm, those links didn't open on my computer, what's the name of the dictionary?
The dictionary is the old Lews and Short A Latin Dictionary, which was originally Harpers' Latin Dictionary. The versions I usually use (FWIW) is a download called Diogenes, which also includes the Liddell and Scott Greek dictionary, or a print copy. . . . Maybe this will work on that site . . . but I'll have to fix up the links later. . . . Fixed the links in the prev. comment, for what they are worth, to point to the beginning of the dictionaries in question. Sorry 'bout that.
Romance languages derive from Vulgar Latin, while Russian borrowed the name from bookish Latin. While they share the common origin, they got divergent in time.