2018, Volume 15, Issue 3

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Albina H. Girfanova
Saint Petersburg State University
Saint Petersburg, Russia

Nikolay L. Sukhachev
Institute of Linguistic Studies of RAS
Saint Petersburg, Russia

Berat, Former Beligrad (Etymological Identity or Heterogeneous Place Names?)

Voprosy onomastiki, 2018, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp. 125–138 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2018.15.3.032

Received 19 July 2017

Abstract: Most scholars trace the Albanian place name Berat (Barat) directly back to Slavonic Beligrad (Belgrade, etc.). However, this suggestion is hard to either prove or disprove, as it rather testifies to the historical continuity of both names than demonstrates some consistent linguistic patterns that might have altered the voicing of the first name. No strict phonetic correspondences in the history of the Albanian language have been detected that would support such a shift from the Slavonic to the Albanian form. Nor have any transitional forms been attested between Beligrad and Berat (except for a later form Belrad, 1927). Another hypothesis, which has not received any support from other scholars, was proposed in 1927 by Gjergj Haxhi Mihali in a long-neglected article about the history of the region. This author relies on the fact that Belgrade was accorded a free city status by a sultanic edict (berat or barat in Turkish), since its inhabitants surrendered it to Turkish troops without a fight, which makes it more likely that the vernacular name of the administrative territory ruled by a pasha, as the edict (Turkic berat, barat) required, was transferred to his residence. The supplantation of the Slavonic name with the Ottoman one might have taken place during the last quarter of the 18th century while the corresponding pashalyk was strengthening its political role during the reign of Ahmet Kurt Pasha. Conclusively, the new name of the city established itself in the early 19th century under Ibrahim Pasha of Berat, whose title bears witness to this. This hypothesis is implicitly confirmed by the widespread occurrence of the corresponding Turkish appellatives in all Balkan languages.

Keywords: Balkan Peninsula, Albanian language, South Slavic languages, place names, language contacts, words of Slavonic origin, words of Turkic (Ottoman) origin


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