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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/illeionathan

Why does the word for New York look so weird?

So, my post on Corinna got a lot of support, so I thought I'd post something else cool about the names of the Latin language, that being why the word for New York (Novum Eboracum) is so strange. Obviously, New York didn't exist at the same time as Ancient Rome, so in order to talk about it in Latin, it had to invented.

First off, New York wasn't the first city named York, which is why it is the "new" York. Because of this, the Latin word for new (including it's gender) was placed in front of the Latin word for York.

But why does the word for York sound weird? Well, the city that is now modern day York was originally a Roman fort called Eboracum, which was a very large and important city in the province of Britannia of the time of Roman rule, a name that was ultimately derived from a Proto-Celtic word for "yew" (eburos) and "having" (akon), making the place literally called "having the yew tree." This was Latinized to better reflect Latin grammar and evolved slowly into the word we have today.

November 10, 2019

13 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tembo441

Actually, Eboracum was NOT the largest city in Britannia at any time during the Roman occupation.

The main town was Camulodenum, now called Colchester, with Londinium (London) second and Verulamium (St Albans) third. The size of the cities varied during the Roman occupation and there were several others in the southern part of Britannia that may have been as large as these at various times, but there is absolutely no doubt that Eboracum never came close in size or importance.

Eboracum (York) was the provincial capital for northern Britannia - a province that the Romans called Brigantes that was eventually bordered in the north by Hadrian's Wall. The Wall was built by the Romans not, as is commonly thought, to keep out the warlike Scots, but to control trade and to tax goods coming in and out of Britannia across the northern border.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Matthew972936

Eboracum was a 'colonia'. The highest status a Roman town could have. It was also for a time the capital of the Western empire under Septimius Severus and the site of an imperial palace. Two Roman emperors died there and two were proclaimed emperor there, including arguably the most important man in European history, Constantine the Great. (There is an amazing statue of him by the minster). Whether or not it was ever as big as Colchester or London, to say it never 'came close' in importance to those towns is untrue.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/illeionathan

Whoops, thanks for letting me know! I'll edit that out. I guess this is why I'm always warned to stay off Wikipedia. :/


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JM3bGj

Great info! Thanks for explaining that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KageNick

Yes agreed. I love small tidbits of knowledge like this.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PaulouF

Thanks a lot for this word clearing.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Schnueffi

Thank you soooo much for your really interesting fun-facts!!!!!!! :-D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ccbbc3

Très bien, mais pourquoi le traduire? Normalement, on ne traduit pas les noms propres, on les reproduit. Very good, but why translate? Normally, we do not translate the proper names, we reproduce them. Will you say "the angels" for Los Angeles, then see that the Romans did not have angels and call it "The manes", "Manibus" ? :-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ExpiredVenom

Many names of cities are translated in other languages, for example Florence is actually Firenze in Italian. Also, the seal of New York City says "Sigilum Civitatis Novi Eboraci", so according to New York City itself, its Latin name should be "Novum Eboracum".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ccbbc3

L'argument de Florence me semble faible. Firenze n'est pas la traduction de Florence (quel serait le sens?) mais plutôt comme je le disais, une tentative de reproduire le nom. Par contre, l'argument du sceau de New York est très valable, je le reconnais et donc, je m'incline. :-) Florence's argument seems weak to me. Firenze is not Florence's translation (what would be the meaning?) But rather, as I said, an attempt to reproduce the name. On the other hand, the argument of the seal of New York is very valid, I recognize it and therefore, I bow. :-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Matthew972936

Well there was no W in the Latin alphabet for a start, so you simply couldn't write New York in Latin

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