POLSKIE EGZONIMY Z OBSZARU LITWY, ŁOTWY I ESTONII OD XIV DO XVIII WIEKU
POLISH EXONYMS FROM LITHUANIA, LATVIA AND ESTONIA OF THE 14th–18th CENTURIES
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Polish exonyms from the Baltic countries are morphologically and phonetically adapted from earlier Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian names. They were often adapted from intermediate German or Russian versions. A German toponymic element is rather prominent, especially in the current Latvian territory, where there were once many German settlements. It has left a linguistic imprint both in older (16th–18th c.) Latvian versions of place names, and in Polish exonyms (since Latvia’s independence, official Latvian place names are purely Latvian in form). Place names adapted from the German language do not differ from other names adapted to Polish territory, as shown by the appropriation of the German suffix -burg as -bork. The cited data shows that Lithuanian place names were morphologically adapted to fit Polish inflexion. Phonetically, the most noticeable change is the replacement of the Lithuanian letter a with the Polish letter o, as well as the omission of the end letter s in the names Kaũnas and Kriãvas. It is noteworthy that after this change occurred in the name Kaũnas, it came to be perceived as a name with the suffix -no, common in Polish toponyms. The same goes for the replacement of the letter a by the letter o in the name Wilno. Another example of changes made during name creation can be seen in the name Derpt in Estonian territory, which was extended with the suffix -sko: Derpsko/Derbsko. Intermediate Russian forms can clearly be seen in the adaptation process of the place names Merecz (Lit. Merkys), and Wiłkomierz (Rus. Wołkomir, Lit. Wilkmergė). The emergence of the Old Ruthenian name Kieś of Latvian origin alongside the German name Wenden (in Latvian territory) is a completely isolated circumstance. Other specifics on the phonetical changes that occur during the adaptation of Lithuanian place names into Polish are discussed in a text by J. Otrębski, who argues that they involve the adjustment of Lithuanian vocalisms to Polish vowels.
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