2021, Volume 18, Issue 1

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Valery L. Vasilyev
Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University
Veliky Novgorod, Russia

Etymological Notes about Balto-Slavic Hydronymy of the Historical Lands of Novgorod and Pskov (Vselug, Dolostso)

Voprosy onomastiki, 2021, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp. 113–127 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2021.18.1.004

Received on 14 December 2020

Abstract: The author focuses on hydronyms of the Balto-Slavic type, or the names of water bodies that include lexical and structural components prominent in both Baltic and Slavic languages. The article presents two onomastic sketches containing a historical and etymological analysis of some lake names in the historical lands of Novgorod and Pskov republics. The first study gives an etymological interpretation of the name Vselug that refers to a large lake in the headwaters of the Volga to the west of Seliger. It is substantiated that the hydronym is a baltism with a compound base *Vis(i)-lank-, lit. ‘with all bends’ (characteristic of a lake with meandering shoreline) that naturally transformed into *Vьselukъ on the Slavic linguistic soil. The second sketch focuses on the lake names on Dolos-/Dolys-. Like Vselug, they do not have full structural matches in the appellative vocabulary, but unlike the isolated Vselug, they make up a large, distinctively compact and dense group. The paper provides exhaustive geographical, historical, and microsystem-toponymic information about the names constituting this group of hydronyms. Etymologically, the author assumes the development of the Dolos-/Dolys- stem from the Baltic *Dаlbs-, a deverbative formed with the suffix -s that resulted in Lithuanian del̃bti in the meaning of ‘cut obliquely, hewn, beat, strike’ and in proto-Slavic *delbti ‘gouge, pick.’ The base is interpreted as a dialectal neologism of the ancient Balts living in the sources of the Volga, the upper reaches of the Msta, Western Dvina, and Velikaya rivers. This archaic structure dates back to the early centuries AD or even earlier, the 1st millennium BC. Its very existence attests to a centuries-long presence of the Baltic linguo-ethnic element in the southwestern part of the historical lands of Novgorod and Pskov.

Keywords: Balto-Slavic toponymic stratum, Baltic, Slavic, hydronyms, lake names, etymological analysis, historical lands of Novgorod and Pskov.


This work was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (research project No. 19-012-00120 “Hydronymy of Historical Lands of Novgorod and Pskov. Structuralderivational, Etymological, Areal and Ethno-historical Study”).


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