1 of 2
1
origin of “America”
Posted: 12 October 2009 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2009-10-12

Dave’s explanation of the name’s origin is very well researched, but it has one anomolous feature.  Locations derived from personal names were as a rule taken only from royalty (cf. your entries on Maryland, Carolina, Georgia, etc.) - and, for example, Pennsylvania is not Williamsylvania nor is Columbia/Colombia Christopheria or Cristobalia.  Mount Everest, Tasmania, Washington (both city and state) and very many more locations named at that time are taken from surnames, not personal names.  America appears to be the only exception to the foregoing. Now, there certainly was a Richard a-Mer(ri/yc)k - the spelling could vary.  He was a Collector of Customs in Bristol, England at the right time, and (as such persons were then) a rich man, and he did finance at least one if not more of the Cabots’ voyages.  Ever since I saw his name on the list of Collectors in Bristol Custom House years ago I have thought that it would be quite normal for settlers to call the country where they settled “Merricka” or “A-merricka” after their sponsor, and because “America” is so euphonious it could easily be expanded to the joined continents

Why would anyone accord to a comparatively obscure navigator who did not discover the continent nor even set foot on it till some years after its discovery the honour usually reserved for royalty - and which they did not give to Columbus/Colon?  I still feel a lingering doubt; if named for Vespucci why would they not call it “Vespuccia”?  Waldseemuller must surely have known of the practice of restricting the usage of personal names to royalty, and I wonder why he chose to support the idea that people in this case - and as far as I can discover only in this case - ignored what could almost be called a rule.  Pity that we can’t ask him about it!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 October 2009 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4720
Joined  2007-01-03

There are no “rules” with naming. Yes, there is a tendency to use surnames rather than first names, but that’s a tendency. There are lots of exceptions. And in this case, of course, we have Waldseemueller himself explaining that he named it after Vespucci. You don’t get better evidence than this.

Vespucci was not an “obscure navigator.” He was very well known and widely recognized at the time as the man who correctly identified that the New World was not the east coast of Asia. His letters describing his voyages were widely published and read.

Ameryk on the other hand did not “finance” any of Cabot’s voyages. The only documented connection he had with Cabot was that he was appointed to oversee the disbursement of Cabot’s pension to his widow. He was an important person in Bristol at the time, and it is certainly possible that he had other dealings with Cabot, but we don’t know this.

Furthermore, there were no “settlers” to America from Bristol. The claim is that Bristol fishermen set up seasonal camps on the east coast of North America and the name arose from this. The claim that English fisherman traveled that far west is possible, perhaps even probable, but we have no firm record of it.

Nor is there any record of anyone, from Bristol or anywhere else, calling the land “America” prior to Waldseemueller naming it after Vespucci. The claim that there is a 1497 record from Bristol using the name for the New World is from a copy of a lost 1565 summary of a lost 1497 record. By 1565 the name America was in widespread use because of Waldseemueller’s map, and it is obvious that the name is being applied anachronistically in the summary. And the claim that it is named after Ameryk did not even appear until 1908.

There is a fuller debunking in Word Myths.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 October 2009 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2009-10-12

Thanks for your reply, Dave.  You say “… there are lots of exceptions “ (to personal names being restricted to royalty).  I agree that it wasn’t a rule ( I did say *almost*). but can you quote me any exceptions, because I’ve found none so far?  And if there were no settlers from the Cabots’ voyages, how come."… Boston, The land of the [something] and cod Where the Lowells speak only to Cabots. and the Cabots speak only to God”?  (I’m sorry that I can’t remember the rest of that quatrain).  Also. although I am 79 years old ( so my memory may be at fault) and it’s around 40 years since I was in the Bristol Custom House, I thought that I had found a reference to a-Merryk’s’ financing the Cabots’ voyages.

Best wishes,

GEA

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 October 2009 06:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4720
Joined  2007-01-03

There is no relation to John Cabot, or Zuan Chabotto as he called himself--he was Venetian--and the Boston Brahmin clan. Settlers did not come to North America for fifty years (Spanish settlements in Florida) and British settlers not for a century. The idea that Ameryk may have had role in financing Cabot’s expeditions is merely speculative, based on his position; nothing is known for sure.

I found another example of a very similar term that illustrates just how common such coincidences are. The Latin name for Brittany is Armoricae, which was used poetically to refer to that region of France, as in the opening lines of Chaucer’s The Franklin’s Tale:

In Armorike that cleped is Bretaigne.

You could invent a story about how the Bretons discovered America and named it after their own land and it would have as much evidence as plausibility as the Ameryk story.

Just because two words look similar, does not mean they are etymologically related. Similarity is the starting point of an investigation, not the end.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 October 2009 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2009-10-12

RAll rght, I give up.  You stick to what you know, and I’ll go on looking for examples of territory usig personal nems which were not those of royalty.  Forget about me.

GEA

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 October 2009 07:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1269
Joined  2007-03-21
George E. Anderson - 15 October 2009 02:38 PM

RAll rght, I give up.  You stick to what you know, and I’ll go on looking for examples of territory usig personal nems which were not those of royalty.  Forget about me.

GEA

Not at all George.  Welcome to this discussion!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 November 2009 10:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2009-10-12

All right, “Once more unto the breach” - although I think that I’m flogging a dead horse, as Dr. Velikovsky was when he pointed out anomalies in the accepted chronology of ancient Egypt - which accepted chronology is now being questioned by several who possess the Egyptological qualifications which he lacked.  I had hoped to discuss this with some who were not already sure that they knew the truth.  “Welcome to thisdiscussion”?  What discussion?  You claimed that there were many examples of locations named for the personal names of non-royal persons, I asked you to cite some, and you didn’t, and I still haven’t found any. And I still have found no answer to the question “Why would people grant to Signor Vespucci the privilege USUALLY reserved for royalty, which they didn’t even grant to Columbus/Colon”?  And why, if Boston was not settled until well after the Cabots’ time, is it described in humourous verse as “The land of the bean and the cod, Where the Lowells speak only to Cabots, And the Cabots speak only to God”?  I am sure that Richard a-Merrick was Collector of Customs at Bristol, and I’m sure that he financed at least one of the Cabots’ expeditions, although my research into that was so long ago that I cannot offer you any positive evidence of what I then found.  I can only say that my research then led me to conclude that there was at least a case for believing that America was not named for Amerigo Vespucci.  Unless you can you can give me some satisfactory answeers to the questions raised herein, I must remain sceptical about your assertion.
GEA

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 November 2009 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3477
Joined  2007-01-29

No offense, but it’s quite clear that no discussion will ever lead you to change your view; you have made up your mind that the rest of the world is wrong and you know The Truth, and what you want is to proclaim it and have people go “By golly, you’re right.” This is frequently seen in people who are convinced that Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare’s plays (and, of course, in followers of the crackpot Velikovsky).  I’m afraid you’re wasting your time here, but I encourage you to start a website to propagate your views—I’m sure you will find plenty of fellow contrarians to agree with you.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 November 2009 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4720
Joined  2007-01-03

It’s a rare thing in etymology to be able to identify the actual coiner of a word. And it is rarer still to have an explanation from the person who coined they term as to why they so named it. When you do, it’s a slam dunk. And such is the case with America. We know who coined the name (Martin Waldseemueller in his 1507 Cosmographiae Introductio) and he gives an explanation as to why he names the New World the way he does—after Vespucci.

Again (because it obviously did not sink in the first time; and I don’t expect to convince Mr. Anderson, but this is for the benefit of others who read this):

Why would people grant to Signor Vespucci the privilege USUALLY reserved for royalty, which they didn’t even grant to Columbus/Colon?

It’s not “people.” It’s Martin Waldseemueller, and he explains exactly why. He forms the name to create a parallel with the names Europe and Asia. I haven’t bothered to compile a list of place names named for the given names of non-royals because it’s irrelevant. In this specific case we know precisely why it is so named. We don’t need to rely on general patterns of nomenclature when we have the explanation served up on a silver platter:

Nuc vo & he partes sunt latius lustratae /& alia quarta pars per Americu Vesputiu (ut in seqenti bus audietur) inuenta est/qua non video cur quis iure vetet ab Americo inuentore sagacis ingenn viro Amerigen quasi Americi terra / siue Americam dicenda:cu & Europa & Asia a mulieribus sua for tita sint nomina.

(Now, these parts of the earth have been more extensively explored and a fourth part has been discovered by Amerigo Vespucci (as will be set forth in what follows). Inasmuch as both Europe and Asia received their names from women, I see no reason why any one should justly object to calling this part Amerige, i.e., the land of Amerigo, or America, after Amerigo, its discoverer, a man of great ability.)

And again, the famed Cabot family of Boston has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with John Cabot/Zuan Chabotto, the explorer. (Despite Wikipedia linking them genealogically, John Cabot had no known English children. His son Sebastian had a single daughter in England, who would not have passed on the family name if she had children, which is not known.) The Cabot family of Boston came to America from Jersey sometime in the 18th century.

Any connection between Richard Ameryk of Bristol and Cabot’s voyages to the New World are purely speculative based on his position in Bristol at the time and the fact that he was later charged by the crown with paying Cabot’s pension to his widow. Is it possible that Ameryk played some sort of role in financing Cabot’s expeditions? Yes. Do we know this for sure or what type of role? No. Also, the so-called “records” in the Bristol archives that purportedly assign the name America to the New World prior to Waldseemueller’s naming are summaries written long afterwards, when America was in common use as a name for the new lands to the west.

So we have very strong, all but indisputable evidence of Waldseemueller’s naming, and, charitably, tenuous and speculative evidence of an origin with Ameryk of Bristol. It’s not difficult to make this call.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 November 2009 01:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  311
Joined  2007-02-17

Places named for saints are named for first names, but that’s not the same situation.

I was also thinking that surnames as we think of them (a name that “belongs” to you rather than merely a descriptor sets you apart from others with the same given name) are not universal and didn’t come into fashion at the same time everywhere.  Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, only 2 years older than Amerigo, might have been more honored by a Leonardburg than a Petersburg or a Vinci City.  Icelandic singer Björk might prefer Björkville over Guðmundsdóttirton.

I picked Petersburg (not quite at random expecting towns named after the saint not Leonardo’s father) and hit Wikipedia:
Petersburg, Alaska is named for Peter Buschmann
“, California is named for Peter Gardett
“, Georgia is named for Petersburg, Virginia
“, Illinois is named for Peter Lukins
“, Indiana is named for Peter Brenton
2 in Iowa, no origin given
2 in Kentucky, not given
Petersburg, Michigan is named for Richard Peters
“, Nebraska, not given
“, New York, Peter Simmons
3 in North Carolina, not given
Petersburg, Ohio, Peter Musser
“, Pennsylvania, not given
“, Tennessee, not given
“, Texas, not given
“, Virginia, Peter Jones
“, West Virginia, founded by Jacob Peterson
“, Wisconsin, not given
That’s 7 first names, 1 place name, 2 last names (with a slight possibility that Peterson is a real patronymic), and 12 unknowns.

[ Edited: 05 November 2009 01:09 PM by Myridon ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 November 2009 01:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2824
Joined  2007-01-31

Georgetown, Kentucky, is named after George Washington. (Georgetown, Alaska, according to Wikipedia, is named after three guys whose first names were all George—does that count as one example or three?)

And what is probably the best-known crater on the moon is called Tycho, after Tycho Brahe.

Or IS IT?  Turns out there was a Richard Tighe working in the shipping department of an English glassmaker that Edmund Halley used to buy lenses from…

Or maybe not.

[ Edited: 05 November 2009 02:18 PM by Dr. Techie ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 November 2009 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4720
Joined  2007-01-03

My hometown of Toms River, NJ is generally credited with being named for a Thomas Luker, an early 18th century ferryman on Goose Creek, which was rechristened the Toms River. Although, it may have been named for a William Toms, an English sea captain who charted the area. So you can take your pick, given or surname. There’s also local folklore about an “Old Indian Tom,” although this may be confusion over Luker, who evidently had a Native-American wife.

Note: My experience with finding the origins of small town names in the US is that the evidence is often highly questionable. By the time historians get around to documenting the origins of the names, those present at the time are all long dead and what is recorded is the accumulated folklore with little or no documentation. Local historians, mostly amateurs, rarely do the rigorous archival research--often not available locally, but in state or national archives or university collections--required to get it right. There are local, amateurs who are really, really good, but alas they are the exceptions. So take anything you find with a grain of salt.

[ Edited: 06 November 2009 06:35 AM by Dave Wilton ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 November 2009 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2009-10-12

Please let me clear up a few points.
!.  I am not just another bigoted Limey trying to resuscitate a long-since-discredited tneory about an obscure Briton whose name happens to resemble that of your country.  I was looking for fresh information, which you have given me. 
2.  When I was in Bristol Custom House I was a serving Officer in Her Majesty’s Customs & Excise, and had little spare time for research.  Retirement was then so far in the future that there was no point in considering what I might do when it came, so I made no notes and that’s why I can’t give any references for the next point.
3.  My memory certainly may be at fault. but I feel reasonably sure that I saw something which persuaded me that the depised a-Merryck did indeed finance one or more of the Cabots’ voyages.  The fact that none of you have found anything like that does not prove that it doesn’t exist:  equally I can’t say definitely that it does - I have to rely on a possibly faulty memory.
4.  I wonder whether the gentleman who categorised Dr.Velikovsky as a crackpot has read any of his published (or unpublished) works?  I have, and his meticulously documented sources and the parallels he shows between events separated by centuries in the currently accepted chronology seem to me (and now to others much more qualified than I) to be things which require some explanation other than mere coincidence.
5.  Early in my career I learned that one can leap to an incorrect conclusion from partial evidence.  I am always ready to change my mind; that was why I started this.
6.  Agreed that towns can be named from commoners’ personal names - but I was talking about much bigger areas - countries, islands, mountains, etc. and on this planet, of which, as far as I can discover, America remains the sole example.

Am I right in understanding that you say that Waldseemuller (sorry about the missing umlaut!) named America in 1507 (though the passage you quoted doesn’t say that he did - rather it explains the name), and that no British settled in America for a century after the Cabots’ voyages?  That prompts me to wonder what they called it before 1507.  You’ve given me some information which I did not have before, which is why I started this, but I really can’t see much point in my continuing , so I probably won’t,other than to check that my understanding is confirmed.

Thanks for everything, G.E.A.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 November 2009 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4720
Joined  2007-01-03

The fact that none of you have found anything like that does not prove that it doesn’t exist.

Of course I can’t prove a negative, but I’m pretty darn confident that no such evidence exists. I have not been to the Bristol Customs House and examined the primary documents, but I have scoured major university libraries for material on the subject and I’ve read all the published versions of the Bristol customs documents on the subject that are available. There is nothing that specifically links Ameryk to Cabot, other than the aforementioned disbursement of his pension. If such evidence existed, it would undoubtedly be presented.

which, as far as I can discover, America remains the sole example.

As far as continent names go, America is the only one named after an actual person, and you can’t draw a pattern from a single example. Asia and Europa are mythological characters--and with only one name. And again, we know that America is patterned after Asia and Europe, even down to the feminine form of the name.

Am I right in understanding that you say that Waldseemuller (sorry about the missing umlaut!) named America in 1507 (though the passage you quoted doesn’t say that he did - rather it explains the name)

Yes. No instance of the name America appears before Waldseemueller’s 1507 Universalis Cosmographia. And believe me, people have looked. The quoted passage is from annotation to his map, which bears the name America.

and that no British settled in America for a century after the Cabots’ voyages?

There was the unsuccessful attempt at settlement at Roanoke (North Carolina) in 1585-87, but the colonists all either died or were absorbed into the local native population with no trace. Jamestown (Virginia), the first successful British colony, wasn’t established until 1607. The Plymouth Colony (Massachusetts) was in 1620.

That prompts me to wonder what they called it before 1507.

They called it “China.” That’s somewhat facetious of me, but it was Vespucci who was the first to recognize that the lands to the west of Europe were new continents and not part of Asia. He published his famous Mundus Novus (The New World) in 1502. And this is the reason the two continents are named for him--he was the first to recognize that they were in fact new continents and not part of Asia.

And Velikovsky is universally regarded as a crackpot. His theory of planetary development is not just wrong, it’s physically impossible and trivially simple to disprove. Citing him is just about the surest way to get yourself labeled as a crackpot too. Not just here, but anywhere.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 November 2009 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2824
Joined  2007-01-31

I have read Worlds in Collision.  I ‘m not competent to comment on Velikovsky’s Egyptology, but I know that historians consider it riddled with errors.  I am reasonably qualified to comment on his science (physics, chemistry, astronomy); it is quite daft.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 November 2009 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2824
Joined  2007-01-31

Adélie Land (Terre Adélie), the French-claimed portion of Antarctica, was named by the French explorer Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville for his wife Adélie.  It has an area of 432,000 square kilometers (more than twice the size of Great Britain).  Is that large enough for you?

[ Edited: 07 November 2009 05:43 PM by Dr. Techie ]
Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1
 
‹‹ Rag & Bones      Big List: lanthanum ››