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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Lexemes 'sala' and 'āres' in Latvian Toponyms

I Jansone
Latvian Language Institute, Latvia

The Latvian language is rich in toponyms containing a nomenclature word, which may be, firstly, a word of the standard language, secondly, a territorially restricted word, thirdly, a lexeme and/ or meaning lost in apellative lexis.
The lexemes sala 'island' and āre 'open country' are considered to belong to the second and third type of nomenclature words. Both lexemes in toponyms are encountered in limited areas. In the case of the lexeme sala, the area coincides with the area of Finno-Ugric substratum, the lexeme āre occurs in the area of Vidzeme Selic dialects, where the presence of the ancient Selic tribe’s language substratum can be observed.
When comparing the meanings of the lexemes sala and āre in the contemporary Latvian language with the objects the respective toponyms are denoting, discrepancies can be observed.
Linking the roots of the lexemes sala and āre with the Indo-European language material, it is possible to state that both the lexeme sala and the lexeme āre have meanings relevant to a house, room, space, etc., for example ide. *āro- 'das Freie, Weite; Raum', conf. lat. arena (Pokorny 79), ide. *sel- 'place for living, house' (Karulis II, 147–148).
The lexemes sala and āre, comprised in the ancient toponyms in the function of a nomenclature word, might have had the meaning 'place for living; house'.

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