Nick over at Ἡλληνιστεύκοντος has been slaving over Byzantine place names for the TLG, and he’s written a post that starts off musing on the relative frequencies of locations mentioned (“The outside world for Byzantines—and I start counting after Justinian—was the Caliphate, Bulgaria, occasionally Italy, Russia once or twice. Western Europe? They didn’t even notice it was there.”), goes on to explain the Hellenizing impulses of learnèd Byzantine writers, who used the spelling correspondences between Latin and Classical Greek despite the fact that the result didn’t sound much like the modern names they were trying to reproduce (“So Dublin is written Δουβλίνο(ν), which is pronounced /ðuvˈlino/ but written in historical orthography as <Dublinon>”), and ends with a quiz that presents some European (including the Caucasus) place names and peoples that gave him trouble in the text of Chalcocondyles and asks us to figure out (without doing the googling that eventually led him to the answers) what they might be. A few are obvious if you happen to know the place name involved (Καχέτιον [Kachétion] is clearly Kakheti), but there are some real stumpers. What is Γαΐτια [Gaï´tia], and who are the Σαμῶται [Samōtai]? Go over and give it a try!


  1. What a fascinating story! I’ve added a bookmark to Ἡλληνιστεύκοντος.

  2. “Γαΐτια [Gaï´tia]” = Geats?
    I did not know that delta was pronounced /ð/.
    Of course most of my Greek is from maths and physics. I even had to write a digamma in the former once.

  3. /ðuv/ isn’t a bad approximation of Irish dubh. Dublin was Dyflin for for a long time.

  4. Mollymooly: I guess, but reasonably sure it was orthographical conservatism that drove the delta there.
    The quiz is closed, I’m afraid, because someone went and got all but one of them correct, and someone else had already got that correct. 🙂 I will say, Kluzioi for Sluis still has me stumped (is it a Latinisation?) And it gave me a reason to google belatedly the account of Lascaris Cananus’ trip to Scandinavia and Iceland in 1439 (text online in Russian at http:// vostlit. by. ru/ Texts/rus8/Kananos/text.htm). [Comments not accepting that URL…]
    To answer the questions that stumped Don Hat: the Sakhataioi are the Chagatai, Gaitia is Jajce in Bosnia, and the Samotai are the Samogitians, although I need to look at Lithuanian more closely (Žemaitėjė) to work out where the middle syllable went.

  5. “Γαΐτια [Gaï´tia]” = Geats?”
    Or maybe Gaeta, a litle closer to home?

  6. Rats.
    I was going to suggest, for “Gaitia”, ‘Ga[l]icia’.

  7. “Dublin was Dyflin for for a long time”
    That looks as if it’s come through Welsh – Dyflin in Welsh orthography would have the pronunciation duv-linn. (Dylan, as I’m sure you all know, ought to be pronounced Dullan.)

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