Etwas stimmt nicht

The Polish capital’s name is Warszawa.  No one suggested that this name is German.  And yet, why not?

Take a look at the river Warsbach.  As early as 633 it was referred to as Warspach:

ad meridianam plagam super Warspach, et inde ad Bodemlosestompha

Even if the above is a forgery, it is probably a forgery of no later than the 10th century.  In any event, the river to this day is called Warsbach.  But if you have a Warsbach then why not a Warsaha or Warsawa? After all, isn’t -awa supposed to be the (reconstructed) German suffix meaning “water”?

What is the official explanation of Warsaw’s name?  It supposedly comes from the name of:

  • a knight named Warsz
  • the Czech family of Warszowcy (or, in Czech, Vršovci) who fled from Bohemia to Poland in the 12th century – you can read all about them in the Czech Chronicle of Cosmas

But even if this were true, it just pushes the question further and deeper: who were these Warszowcy? Who was Warsz?  Or rather, why was he called Warsz?

Incidentally, the Polish “sz” represents the “sh” sound and, not surprisingly, the river Warsbach has also been spelled (and therefore pronounced) Warschbach (the German “sch” corresponds to the Polish “sz” and the English “sh”).

So where is Warsbach or Warschbach? Right here:

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December 1, 2017

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