So, hoping for this not to be too niche, here I'd like to open a new etymological feature! It's all about strange words (in any language) that we encounter with regard to WHSs: sometimes in their names, sometimes in the evaluations of advisory bodies... we have had some discussion about curious terms (e.g. here
), sometimes I see some considerations popping up in reviews, so why not have a place to discuss or clarify them? :-D
I'll try to begin with a small list that I have been keeping lately. Of course I am beginning with...
(Danish): you find it in Stevns klint
, Baltic klint
(TWHS), and pCTWHS (probably coming) Møns klint
. Well, as mentioned, I already tried to delve into this here
. It's a geological word that denotes some kind of ridge, it is of Baltic origin and it is currently used practically only in Denmark and maybe Sweden, where it denotes cliffs. Obscure origins, but despite similarities with eng. cliff
it should not be related. Now, to complicate things, Danish also has another word, klit
, which although it usually denotes a sand dune, is just a dialectal variation of klint
in origin, and so you can have e.g. Hanklit on Mors (Moler landscapes
) where you would expect Hanklint
, given it+s not sand. While klitplantage
are decidedly plantations done on dunes, and not on cliffs. Very confusing.
(Italian): this seems to be obvious, but might be confusing, too. It seems to be a use peculiar to Lazio and that region of Italy, in fact, to sometimes have a slight different meaning than the common one of "house/manor", rather specifying an "estate", and even further a "park" or similar. This notably happens for Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli
... where there is no building at all!!! In Rome, you also have Villa Doria Pamphilj
, which is an enormous park, with all its amenities. Inside you find a building, but it's not the villa, it's a casino
(elegant "country house", lit. "small house"). Also here, the term villa
denotes the whole former property.
"villa" actually denoted a country-house already in Roman times, and it comes from a diminutive form vicula
) of vicus
, a "row of houses" (hence italian vicolo
"alley"), also a "hamlet". So a villa
is originally "an ensemble of country houses"; in French it has even been expanded to the concept of "city" (ville
). So, this meaning of "estate" in Rome and surroundings is secondary and collateral: in everyday Italian it is not present.
(French): maybe more often lices
in the plural, we encounter them prominently in Carcassonne
, where many a word is told to the visitor about them. They denote the empty, walkable space between the two walled enceintes... a very scenic walk, in fact. I am not so sure if this word is so rare in modern French, but this meaning, near to the original one, is very specific; I have not even heard it used for other castles.
In the beginning, lice
was used just for a space for training, tournaments and similar circled by a palisade. Now, what fascinated me most is its ultimate provenance and its ramifications. To a Romance ear it does not sound so familiar, and it actually is of Germanic roots, a form listja
, I suppose) related to lista
which is the same as list
in English. But lista
originally meant "edge, hem" (and this remains e.g. in Italian as an obsolete sense), then used for a strip of fabric or paper where you can write a long... list of things. But in German today we also have Leiste (the long i
), so I suppose in other Germanic languages something similar, too, with the meaning of narrow piece of wood, a fillet or molding (but retains a sense of "strip of fabric", and also means "groin" = "a strip of skin"). Beyond that, its origins are lost in time, cognates in other languages are not found. To sum it up, in the beginning lice
described the palisade acting as a border to a piece of terrain often placed outside of the walls, subsequently that terrain itself, and now a piece of terrain that borders fortified walls! Bonus: in Italian the corresponding word is the by now obsolete lizza
, which is only used in the idion essere in lizza (con qualcuno)
"to be in the lices
(with someone)", i.e. to be competing for something!
* * *
Words, too, do make big journeys, and sometimes they end it in a WHS. I will come again with other words as soon as I remember them! Do you have some curious WHS-related terms to suggest/discuss? I have started with those with which I am most familiar, but would love to find some in other parts of the world too!