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Australia
Posted: 15 June 2010 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]
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According to the Online Etymology Dictionary the toponym Australia is derived from New Latin Terra Australis. The Latin adjective australis (southern) is, however, derived from a Proto-Indoeuropean word which means eastern. The OED suggests that this discrepancy might reflect an incorrect assumption in Antiquity about the geographical position of Italy. Has this change of meaning from PIE to Latin been examined in more detail?

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Posted: 15 June 2010 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Referring to the Online Etymology Dictionary as the “OED” around here invites serious confusion.

The Oxford English Dictionary derives australis from Auster, the Roman personification of the south wind, and compares that to L. urĕre, ustum, to burn, and Gk. αὔειν, to dry, kindle: by implication, a different root.

Edit: or perhaps not; Skeat derives aurora and the related complex of “east” words, as well as Auster and the related “burning” words, from the radical us.

But I still wouldn’t put any stock in the etymonline’s claims about a misplaced Italy without evidence that some real etymologists or lexicographers take it seriously.

[ Edited: 15 June 2010 02:11 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 15 June 2010 10:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It is interesting that in the similar-sounding New Latin toponym Austria the auster part is used with the meaning east.

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Posted: 16 June 2010 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Australia is said to be derived from the Latin australis, meaning “southern” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia)

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Posted: 16 June 2010 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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As, er, the original post said.

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Posted: 16 June 2010 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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It is interesting that in the similar-sounding New Latin toponym Austria the auster part is used with the meaning east.

I don’t think auster is an etymon for Austria.

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Posted: 16 June 2010 10:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Dr. Techie - 16 June 2010 08:56 PM

It is interesting that in the similar-sounding New Latin toponym Austria the auster part is used with the meaning east.

I don’t think auster is an etymon for Austria.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary Austria is a twelfth-century translation into New Latin of German Österreich which, as far as I know, means eastern empire. It further says that the root is Proto-Germanic austra, without explaining the meaning of this root, but linking it to Latin aurora which, of course, is synonymous with oriens, i.e. east.

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Posted: 16 June 2010 10:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thus, as I said, auster is not an etymon.

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Posted: 16 June 2010 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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It seems that Austria is an exonym while Österreich is the endonym (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_capitals_in_native_languages), while the stem of the word austr can mean east eg http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/austr, not to be confused with australia meaning southern.

[ Edited: 17 June 2010 02:15 AM by New Linguist ]
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Posted: 18 June 2010 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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New Linguist - 16 June 2010 11:51 PM

It seems that Austria is an exonym while Österreich is the endonym (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_capitals_in_native_languages), while the stem of the word austr can mean east eg http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/austr, not to be confused with australia meaning southern.

It all boils down to the etymology of Latin australis with the meaning southern.

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Posted: 18 June 2010 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Latin australis and austrinus both ‘southern’ are derived from Auster which is literally the ‘southern wind’ and metonymically the ‘south, or southern lands’. The word for south in Latin is meridies (from meridies ‘midday, noon’. (I’ve have always wondered at calling the warmer southern part of the country noon or midday in French midi and Italian mezzogiorno.) The other directions in Latin are septentrio ‘north’, oriens ‘east’, and occidens ‘west’.

There are no reconstructed roots for the cardinal compass points in PIE. The IE languages followed two different strategies for deriving words for directions: (1) facing a direction (almost always east, orienting oneself) and then deriving ‘north’ and ‘south’ from ‘left’ (cf. Irish tūascert ‘northern’ < tūas ‘left’) and ‘right’ (cf. Sanskrit dakshina ‘right, south’), east ‘in front, before’ and west ‘behind’; (2) deriving east and west from rising and setting of the sun. English east and west are derived from roots meaning ‘dawn; rising’ (cf. Greek Eos ‘dawn’, Latin aurora, orior) and ‘evening’ (cf. Latin vesper ‘evening’, English west). In the Germanic languages the roots for east and west end either in -n- or -r- (Proto-Germanic *aus-to-nō-, German Ost, Osten, and aus-t-r-, Old Norse austr ‘east’, Gothic *Austrogutōs ‘Ostrogoths’). (PIE *aus is also reflect in Latin aurum ‘gold’.)

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Posted: 18 June 2010 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Yes, it appears to me that Austria is essentially a phonetic Latinization of Österreich, without any semantic connection to L. Auster or australis = south.  I’ve learned from experience that the Online Etymology Dictionary is, at best, only as reliable as whoever they cribbed the etymology from (and sometimes they don’t even crib competently), so as I say, I don’t put much stock in the “misplaced Italy” story.

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Posted: 18 June 2010 11:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Apparently Latin had two words for southern, meridianus and australis. Were these two words used at random and synonymously? Has Terra australis incognita originally, i.e. before the discovery of Australia, been used for Antarctica?

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Posted: 19 June 2010 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Apparently Latin had two words for southern, meridianus and australis. Were these two words used at random and synonymously?

Words are rarely or never used at random (depending on what you mean by “random").  The fact that two words have the same denotation does not mean they are interchangeable.  As far as I can tell, meridianus is more common than australis, but you would have to do more research than I am willing to do to figure out in what contexts each is used.

In general, if you’re interested in the various words for concepts and their etymologies, I recommend Carl Buck’s Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages (only for words in I-E languages, obviously).

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Posted: 19 June 2010 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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languagehat - 19 June 2010 06:55 AM

Apparently Latin had two words for southern, meridianus and australis. Were these two words used at random and synonymously?

Words are rarely or never used at random (depending on what you mean by “random").  The fact that two words have the same denotation does not mean they are interchangeable.  As far as I can tell, meridianus is more common than australis, but you would have to do more research than I am willing to do to figure out in what contexts each is used.

In general, if you’re interested in the various words for concepts and their etymologies, I recommend Carl Buck’s Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages (only for words in I-E languages, obviously).

Could it be that meridianus was used as southern and australis as far southern?

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Posted: 19 June 2010 10:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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No, it couldn’t.  (Tried just “No” and got the dreaded “Unable to receive your submission at this time.")

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