Chronology of the breakup of Common Romance [long]

X99Lynx at X99Lynx at
Sun Aug 22 18:14:46 UTC 1999

I wrote:
<<(Doesn't Wallachia looks like it could also be just plain Latinized

In a message dated 8/21/99 8:54:25 PM, mcv at wrote:
<<It's Latinized from South Slavic vlax(U)....

<<vlasi is simply the South Slavic plural of vlax, showing Slavic
2nd palatalization x > s(') > s [S&E Slavic]....

<<Indeed.  The word is Common Slavic (*wolxU), and undergoes the
usual changes in order to obtain an open syllable (metathesis to
<vlox(U)> in Polish/Kashubian, metathesis + lengthening to
<vlo:xU> > <vlax(U)> in Czech/Slovak/South Slavic and polnoglasie
to <volox(U)> in East Slavic).>>

First of all, Wallachia as latinized South Slavic:
Consider that we have many instances of Latinized 'vlach' that does not go
the way of 'Wallachia' and all are earlier.  There is everything from the
Pope's "rex blachorum" (1206) to a "villa vlacha' (1295) to "Vlachii" and the
"Blasii" and "Blachi" mentioned in the Hungarian Gesta (1100's).  (And of
course  in one of the Egil sagas we see "Blocmannland" - looking like it came
down the same path.)  My best information is that /valachia/ as Vlachs first
appears a bit later (@1300's?).  duNay says the first mention of the place we
call "Walachia" happens with the Polish chronicler Jan Dlugosz (1415-1480).

So what happened here?  The palatalized /vl/ gets dropped suddenly in Latin
after all those years and Latin and German return to /val/?  Does that make

Here's another explanation.  There were multiple forms of the word going
round in the many years before 'Wallachia" shows up about .  duNay says that
Vlach is "walach" in German.  And the OED shows that 'vlachs' first entered
English as "wolocks" and "wallacks" as well as the expected "vlachs" and
"walachs" from the latin.  If the Slavic "volocks" did not survive
palatalization, the German version of it should have.  It would then make
more sense to see "Walachia" or "Wallachia" as:

1) a latinization of either the earlier pre-pal. Slavic "volocks" or
"volochs." (But not East Slavic "volox").  Or a form that survived
palatalization with the initial vowel because it was a proper name.

2) a latinization of "wal/a/ch" (adj) as it sometimes appears in Germanic or
as it might have been borrowed back early from the Slavic.

Both of these seem to fit better, given that "vlach-" was already established
in Latin well before "Wallachia" appears.  They also acknowledge the original
western form of the word with the initial vowel intact.

At this point, I won't go into the fact that there is another form of Vlach
that appears early in Southern Slavic, "vlah-", that does not even include
-x(U)- that might be reflected from say "Volcae" but not from the OHG

<<Where was Common Slavic spoken?>>

I'd have to ask when?  "Late Common Slavic" seeming to be an entity that
spans a continent.

I wrote:
<<The original meaning of 'walh' has of course disappeared from Czech and
Polish (as it has for example from Swedish) with national names taking its
place, so that the Balkan form referring to "Vlachs" is all that remains.>>

You replied:
<<Not quite.  Apart from its continued use in Germanic (Welsh
(=from Wales), Waals (=from Wallonia)), it's also still used in
Polish for "Italian" (wl/och, pl. wl/osi) and "Italy" (Wl/ochy,

The example from Polish you give is not from the original meaning.  (Walloon
I think was the second phase.  Welsh I think is on the money.)  That's
because the original word did not mean Italian or Italy.  I'd like to handle
that in another post when I have a little more time.  But let me say that it
looks like this word never meant "roman" or "italian" in English, for
example, and it's connection with "roman" and "italian" is a later after
effect of it being applied to the Franks.

No, I don't think the original meaning included "Roman" or "Italian."

I wrote:
<<It also seems 'Walh' is unattested in Gothic in the 4th century.>>

You wrote:
<<There's not much call for the word in a Bible translation.>>

Well, the new testament is pretty heavy with "Romans" isn't it?
I suspect there was opportunity enough if that's what the word meant at that
point in time.

Steve Long

More information about the Indo-european mailing list