A Contribution to the Etymology of the Poleonym Bar


  • Žarko Veljković Srpski naučni centar




etimology, translations


The Етимолошки речник српског језика (Etymological Dictionary of the Serbian Language) provides the following etymology for the poleonym Бар (Бâр, Бȁр): “From the pre-Slavic name of the town (Anti-) Barium. Since the same name, Barium, was borne in antiquity by a more famous town on the opposite side of the Adriatic Sea, present-day Бари, Serbo-Croatian formerly also Бȁр (RJA), this Бари is interpreted as ‘the Бари opposite’, from the Greek ἀντι- ‘on the opposite side’. The Slavic variant may have reflected the primeval form of the poleonym, that is, the form without the prefix; alternatively, the prefix may have disappeared phonetically: Anti-barium > Ǫtьbarь > *Удбар > Убар, and finally by decomposition: у Бар (so Skok 1931: 490; accepted by Popović 1958: 304).” Indeed, Popović suggests *Удбар by decomposition: *у Дбар > Бар. The Etymological Dictionary of the Serbian Language continues: “The Old Serbian locative vq bari (and later M    barM, Даничић s. v.) demon- strates an initial palatal declination: *Barь, Barja, as a result of the Latin io- base. What is striking is that the Serbian form of the town’s name retains the initial Latin b-, while the Italian Antivari reflects the newer Greek pronunciation of the consonant, and the Albanian Tivar is etymologised from the Italian (Skok 1: 46 s. v. anti-; Popović 1. c.).”

The above etymology is basically correct. This article, however, argues that the etymon of the town’s present-day name, Бар, must have been in fact the Romance *Antibárī, since the prefix Anti- was present in the language field; moreover, the consonantal simplification *Удбар > Убар or decomposi- tion *Удбар > у *Дбар > *Дбар could never have occurred by a phonological process. The only possible conclusion is that the prefix Anti- in the Romance *Antibárī  was phonetically dropped  by Balkan Romance speakers, either completely or partially. It is further argued that the prefix Anti- disappeared partly in the Dalmatian Roman idiom, partly in the Slavic one.

The   proposed   etymological  progress   of   the   poleonym   Бар  is: Romance *Antibárī > Balkan Romance *Antibári > *Tibári > South Slavic *t(q)baÐrq× > *dbaÐrq× > Old  Serbian  dbaÐrq× > baÐrq  > Serbian Бȁр and  Бâр. Finally, the accentual alternation Бȁр: Бâр is explained by analogy with the lengthening of the accent in some parallel cases.


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