We’ve discussed the Pyrenees and Pirins here.
Here is an interesting set of other similar names:
- Apennines Range
- Pennine Alps
- Pennines (northern England)
- Pieniny (Poland/Slovakia)
An interesting story shows what people really know about etymologies of names. For years the English Pennines were assumed to be made up by Charles Bertram in the 18th century. But George Redmonds in his “Names and History: People, Places and Things” traces it to William Camden (1551-1623) who writing of the town of Skipton in Yorkshire said as follows:
“For the whole tract there is rough all over and unpleasant to see to, with craggie stones, hanging rockes, and rugged waies, in the midest whereof, as it were in a lurking hole, not farre from Are standeth Skipton, and lieth hidden and enclosed among steepe hilles, in like manner as Latium in Italie, which Varro supposeth to have beene so called because it lieth close under Apennine and the Alpes.” [from A description of Yorkshire in William Camden, Britain, or, a Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland)]
But is the name actually earlier than that?
“Piana” means “flat” in Italian (a “plain”?).
But in Slavic it means “foam or froth” and in Lithuanian (pienas) refers to milk.
So what’s the snow forecast up there?
As a reader points out, you can also get foam from limestone being exposed to acid. Limestone is wapno and “made of limestone” is wapienny. Both words are “native” Slavic.
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