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The term Welsche or Walsche probably goes back to a Germanic name for Romans and (Romanized) Celts (cf. English Welsh for Welsh ). In the German language today, under Welschen as an exonym , the closest living Romance peoples are referred to, and variants of this designation can be found all over Europe. The expression Welschland was previously used for Italy and France , among others , today mainly in Switzerlandfor the French-speaking Switzerland (also Welsch Switzerland ); in Tyrol and South Tyrol refers the Walschen even today, albeit pejoratively, to the Italians . The corresponding Germanic counter-term for neighbors settling in the east was Wenden (and the like).

In addition, the word is as an ingredient in numerous local , corridor and surnames included.

Oldest word origin

According to JRR Tolkien , the word can be interpreted as "a general Germanic name for a person who we can take for a Celtic speaker ".

The word appears in the forms Old High German singular walh, plural walha, the affiliation adjective Old High German walhisk, Old English wilisc "foreign, non-English, Kymrisch ", Old Norse valskr, valir "Gauls, French". The adjective can be traced back to the developed Germanic * walhiska- .

Germanic name for Celts

In the earliest records, the word was used to designate a neighboring Germanic people. The word is etymologically related to the name of the Volcae . This Celtic tribe came into contact with Germanic peoples in prehistoric times and lived in Aquitaine in southern France at the turn of the century . Before that, the Volcae presumably had great influence in Moravia ( Moravia ) and controlled, together with other tribes ( Boii , Cotini and other Danube Celts), an important network of trade routes between the Mediterranean and the Germanic settlement areas. It is also assumed that the Volcae lived northeast of the Rhine , in what is now western and central Germany, in the river basin of the Weser . Gaius Iulius Caesar mentions the Volcae Tectosages as a Celtic tribe who at that time still lived in western Germania.

At the turn of the ages, this name was generalized by Germanic speakers to all Celts . The name is in some Germanic languages a name for various Celtic peoples, such as the fishing , Jutes and Saxons , the island in the 5th century Britain occupied and met the local Celtic population: West Saxon wilisc, wylisc, anglisch and kentisch welisc, wælisc, Anglo-Saxon walh or wealh . The root can be found, for example, in names such as Wales (or welsh, "Welsh") and Cornwall .

Transition of the word to novels

Copper replica of the Swedish Brakteaten of Tjurkö (copy of a Roman coin), approximately 400-650 n. Chr. In the older Futhark written appears urnordische word walhakurne ( "welsches grain", "foreign grain"), apparently a Kenning for " Gold ”with reference to the coin.

At the latest after the end of antiquity , the term increasingly also referred to novels. On the European mainland nearly all Celts had been Romanized by the collapse of the Western Roman Empire ; however, the Germanic designation for these peoples remained the same and expanded to include Romansh speakers without further differentiation.

After the Franks immigrated to Gaul , the local Gallo- Romans also adopted the Franconian country name Walha from the language of the conquerors. This became the French (la) Gaule, which soon only referred to the land before the Merovingian and Carolingian times , i.e. essentially the former Roman province of Celtica . The French word Gaule is not derived from the Latin Gallia , which in the time after Caesar stood for Northern Italy (Gallia cisalpina) and Provence (Gallia narbonensis) .

The Bavarian- Franconian conquest , which from the 5th century also crossed the Rhine to the south-east, found by no means a land depopulated by the migration of peoples , but rather Latin-speaking Christians of various ethnic origins (albeit presumably many Italians after Odoacer's recall of the Roman citizens in 487 das Left the country). The forming in what is now Bavaria as folklore Bavarians met the Celtic Breonen Tyrolean Inn Valley and migrated Noricum in the South Tyrolean Eisack and Wipp (Nurichtal, Vallis Noricana) and arrived in the 7th century today's language border at Salurn , where peaceful contact with the Ladins . The holy Rupert , the 696 in Salzburg with the missionary's southern border Austriens begins founded his diocese based unbroken Roman tradition, and there are likely to romanischsprechende enclaves, perhaps even ethnic novels have kept beyond, such as the noble family of de Albina from Oberalm near Salzburg and the place names of the area there, or the locality Latin near Straßwalchen ("Latin speakers in the neighborhood of Romanen") shows. Walchenorte can be found along the entire northern edge of the Alps, in particular in the former border triangle Salzburg - Wels / Steyr - Pongau / Ennstal , where Romanesque, Bavarian and Slavic names from the same period mix. And south of the Alps in Carinthia and Styria, the former of Norican-Romanesque islands in the Slavic kingdom, then Bavarian Grenzmark and Duchy of Carantania , testify. The autochthonous cultural continuity can be found in the Vita Severini , the biography of St.  Severin von Noricum (410–482) of the early 7th century, where Eugippius writes the “novels that remained in the country [today's Lower Austria] " Would have - despite the Huns invading the Lombards , Rugians , Ostrogoths and other wandering Teutons, Avar storms and Slavic conquest -" preserved the legacy of Severinus better [...] than his monks [of the Severin order, who had moved to Castellum Lucullanum near Naples in 488 ] by passing on the Christian doctrine and the surviving cultural traditions of antiquity to the immigrating Germans. "

The word does not remain on the regions of direct contact is limited: Even Old Norse - the beginning of the Viking Age , 800 indicative date - is Valir or Vælir used as a name for the Romans, and the name Valland for their countries. Corresponding adjectives are välsk, velsk in Norwegian, vaelsk in Danish.

The Old High German Walh was in Middle High German to Walch, and ahd the adjectival form. Walhisk, walhisch was "Romance" for MHG. Waelsch, z. B. in the Alexander novel by Rudolf von Ems  - up to Welsche in modern German.

The noun Walch still appears in modern times, especially in the plural Walchen, of which a dialectal variant, whales , was specifically related to mineral seekers and prospectors from Italy (also known as Venetians ), who mainly collected mineral resources in the Alps and were experts in magic Dwarves found their way into the legendary world.

Place and field names of the early language classes

Place names with the component "Welsch" / "Walsch" can be found more frequently in the Sauerland as well as in the southern German and Austrian Alpine foothills and the Swiss foothills . These are traced back to the Bavarian- Franconian conquest at the earliest , and it is assumed that they document contacts between this cultural area and the local Gallo-Roman remaining population, including any remnants of the various auxiliary troops of the old Limes region . Well over a hundred Walchen places have been documented, with a striking concentration in the lake areas of the Alpine region. A selection of them:

Compare with Windisch / Wenden , the Germanic name for Slavs.

Examples of names for specific ethnic groups

In various German regional languages, the neighboring Romans or Romansh-speaking population groups are referred to as "Welsche". The term has a neutral or pejorative sound: while in Swiss, for example, Welsche is used for Romands (French-speaking Swiss) without a negative valuation, Welsche or Walsche in Tyrol is a generally pejorative term for reasons of the turbulent political processes of modern times in these regions Italian. In the context of Franco-German rivalry , the term was used in standard German in the 19th and early 20th centuries as a derogatory term for everything French - e.g. B. in the phrase "Welsche Tücke" - but has since become uncommon.

  • The walnut was originally the "welsche nut", d. In other words, it came into German via France or Italy. It is also called English walnut, from Old English walhnutu ( wealh + hnutu ) "foreign nut", Danish valnød, Swedish valnöt . In Dutch it is called okkernoot ( modern walnoot only stands for the genus Juglans ).
  • Also in Welschkohl , Welschkorn , Welschkraut , welsch indicates that these vegetables were once taken over from outside.

For French speakers

As a term for French speakers :

  • Welsch Switzerland or Welschland is in German Switzerland common for "French-speaking Switzerland" (Romandie). TheFrench spoken in French-speaking Switzerland is referred to as Welsch as an independent word.
  • The municipality of Welschenrohr in the Swiss canton of Solothurn is named after the nearby language border with French.
  • In Alsace , Welschi or Walschi ( Upper Alsatian ) stands for “Inner French” in general (rarely nowadays) and - and therefore even in regional French which [ ˈwɛlʃ ] - for the Romance ( Lorraine / French) language enclaves on the east side of the Vosges (“ pays which “) in particular and their language (Germanism-rich local variants of Lorraine - correct: Vosgien ). The Vosges themselves are already called in Latin Vosegus Mons (dt. Earlier Wasgenwald ), linguistic connection with the Celtic Volcae , who at that time already migrated to southern France, should not exist.
  • The Walloons are the French-speaking Belgians.
  • In various German cities and places, e.g. B. in Duisburg , one finds street names like Welschengasse or Am Welschenkamp .
  • For the Waldensians , who were expelled from their homeland between 1680 and 1700 and were taken into German lands, the German population used "Welsche" as a name because of their French origin. Therefore, there are still numerous street and field names with this designation in the German Waldensian communities ( district of Karlsruhe ), for example Am Welschenweg, Welschneureut (the "old" Neureut is called Teutschneureut ), Welschneureuter Straße, Welschenäckerstraße, Im Welschental or Welsche Straße . The name of the Waldensians itself is derived from the founder Petrus Valdes and is not etymologically related to the name Welsch .

For Italian speakers

The Trentino as the southern part of Tyrol

As a term for Italian speakers :

In addition, there is a specific reference to the whales or Venediger [ mandln ] (and miners in general) in the mountain areas of all of Central Europe , a historical complex of legends about Italian stone hunters, sometimes also wood collectors.

For Ladin speakers

In Tyrol and South Tyrol, the Ladin-speaking population of the Dolomites is also pejoratively called "Krautwalsche". The term “Krautwalsche” is also used in the Trentino dialects. In the case of the Dolomite Ladins and the Rhaeto-Romans in general, the word does not designate any Romanized Celts or Romans, but Romanized Raetians .

For the Ladin-speaking village of Rina , Welschellen is used in German to distinguish it from the German-speaking Ellen in the municipality of St. Lorenzen . The same connection is assumed for today's German-speaking Welschnofen , which is said to have originally been Ladin-speaking, in contrast to Deutschnofen .

For Romansh

The former Walser , later again Rhaeto-Romanic Welschtobel

As a term for Romansh :

Welsch as "strange, incomprehensible"

By generalizing the meaning "Romance", the expression Welsch in German has also taken on the meaning "foreign, incomprehensible language", see the articles Rotwelsch and Kauderwelsch .

Terms in the Slavic languages

Distribution of the Romanians in the broader sense of the term ( Wallachians )

The Slavs also borrowed the word walha from the Germanic peoples as common Old Slavic vlachu meaning “Romane” as well as generally “foreign language”, possibly from the Old High German form walah .

  • Włochy is the Polish name for "Italy" to this day . Wołoch as a Polish term for Romanians has become rare today.
  • Lah is an expression in West Slovenian dialects for the (“Räto” Romanic) Friulians
  • Vlachi, Vlasi (South Slavic), Volochi (East Slavic) are now called different ethnic groups of Wallachians (as an exonym , so mostly not as a self-name):
    • the closely related peoples of the Aromanians , Meglenorumans , Istrorumans and - rarely today - also for the Dakorumans themselves. In the broader sense of the term, all these peoples are referred to in German as Wallachians, English Wallachians, as Balkan-Roman language group or Romanian ethnic group.
    • Romanized Roma , mainly those who lived as slaves in the Romanian Wallachia for several centuries , who fully or partially appropriated the Romanian language and who left the country after its liberation in 1856.

In addition, the word takes on a meaning for ethnic groups living from the sheep industry in general:

  • for Slavic Romanes of Eastern Roman origin who survived the collapse of Byzantium as nomadic shepherds in southeastern Europe
  • for the remaining populations of the collapsed medieval Wallachian expansion as nomadic shepherds in Slovakia or Bosnia, for example.
Ethnography of the Balkans: Histoire Et Géographie - Atlas Général Vidal-Lablache, Librairie Armand Colin, Paris 1898

Loans in other languages

The Slavic form is borrowed back into German via the Middle Latin Wallachia for the Roman province and later the Principality of Moldova during the time of the Crusaders:

  • Wallachia stands for some regions or historical empires, specifically:
    • the Romanian region of Wallachia (Romanian Ţara Românească )
    • the Wallachian Lowlands (Romanian Câmpia Română ) on the north bank of the Danube lower reaches in Romania
  • Wallachians were called all Balkan novels in German until the 19th century.

Today the German word "Walache" is primarily used as a translation of the above Slavic words (such as Vlachi, Vlasi, Volochi ).

From the Slavs, the Magyars also adopted the expression:

  • olasz "Italian" and (outdated) oláh "Romanian"

The word also migrated into Byzantine in the High Middle Ages:

Γάλα Βλάχας ( Gála Vláhas "Shepherd's
Milk ") is a well-known brand in Greece
  • Blachoi (βλαχοι [ ˈvlaxi ]) as an expression for "shepherd" in general (regardless of ethnicity)
  • Blachoi, Latin Blachia synonymous with Mysoi and Boulgaroi in Niketas Choniates in the 13th century for the Bulgarian empire of Kaloyan

From this Greko-Slavic “Vlachi” pronounced βλαχοι then, literally adopted by the Crusaders, also in medieval Latin literature:

  • Blachi, Blaci, Blacci, Blasi, about Rex Bulgarorum et Blachorum for Karpato Moldovan-rich and Blacus, Dux Blacorum for Gelou in the Gesta Hungarorum (about 12C.)

And finally it can be found in Turkish :

  • Iflak or Eflak as a name for the Principality of Moldova until the middle of the 19th century

Welsch / Walsch in family names

The form is also preserved in family names:

  • in German and Dutch: Welsch , Welschen, Welzen , Welches, Wälsch, Walech, Walch , Wahl , Wahle , Wahlen , Wahlens, Wahlich, Wallisch , Wälke (partly indirectly through first names like Walcho ), De Waal , De Waele , Waelhens, Swalen , Swelsen ; but not Van der Waals (from the river name Waal )
  • in English: Welsh , Welch , Walsh , Walch
  • Slavic forms: Vlacho, Vlah
  • Greek: Vlachos , Vlachou
  • Polish: Włoch, Wołoch , Wołos, Wołoszyn, Wołoszek, Wołoszczak, Wołoszczuk, Bołoch, Bołoz
  • Bloch , a Jewish family name that maygo back to Włochy in Polish

Vlach and its variants are also historically guaranteed as a first name , to Blasius (for saints, see below).

Historical personalities:

Etymological differentiation from other terms

See also


  • JRR Tolkien : English and Welsh. 1955; publish in: Christopher Tolkien (Ed.): The Monsters & the Critics and Other Essays. George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd. 1983; republished HarperCollins Publishers 1990
  • Walch I and wälsch - rich word articles in the Swiss Idiotikon , Volume XV, Sp. 422-428 and 1583-1607 about Walchen and welsch in linguistic and cultural-historical terms, including the compositions and derivations.
  • Walter Pohl, Ingrid Hartl, Wolfgang Haubrichs (eds.): Walchen, Romani and Latini. Variations of a post-Roman group name between Britain and the Balkans . Publishing house of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna 2017, ISBN 978-3-7001-7949-8 .

Web links

Wiktionary: welsch  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

f1Georeferencing Map with all linked sites: OSM | WikiMap

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d entry Welsh. In: Douglas Harper: Online Etymology Dictionary, etymonline.com (en)
  2. "common Gmc. name for a man of what we should call Celtic speech. ”- J. R. R. Tolkien, quoted in Online Etymology Dictionary, trans. Wikipedia
  3. a b c d e f g Zdravko Batzarov: Wallachians, Walloons, Welschen etc. (No longer available online.) In: Orbis Latinus, www.orbilat.com. Archived from the original on March 20, 2007 ; accessed on June 10, 2008 (English).
  4. Arend Quak: Van Ad Welschen naar Ad Waalsen of toch maar niet? (PDF; 52 kB) 2005, archived from the original on February 6, 2012 ; Retrieved June 10, 2008 (Dutch).
  5. ^ A b Caesar: Commentarii de Bello Gallico , 52/51 v. Chr.
  6. De bello gallico : 6.24
  7. ^ Tolkien: English and Welsh. Quoted from The Celtic Languages ​​in Contact. Donn Bayard, Daniel Copeland, Highland & Gaelic Society, March 1, 2004, archived from the original August 7, 2008 ; accessed on June 10, 2008 (English).
  8. ^ Manfred Scheuch : Austria - Province, Empire, Republic. A historical atlas . Verlag Christian Brandstätter, Vienna 1994. Licensed edition: Verlag Das Beste, ISBN 3-87070-588-4 , p. 16ff
  9. Heinz Dopsch: On the part of the novels and their culture in the formation of the Bajuvar tribes. In: Hermann Dannheimer, Heinz Dopsch (ed.): The Bajuwaren. From Severin to Tassilo 488–788. Exhibition catalog Joint State Exhibition of the Free State of Bavaria and the State of Salzburg Rosenheim / Bavaria Mattsee / Salzburg May 19 to November 6, 1988, Prehistoric State Collection Munich and Office of the Salzburg State Government 1988, pp. 47–54
  10. a b Dopsch 1988: Breonen and Noriker in Tirol, pp. 51–52.
  11. a b Scheuch 1994: Romanized rest population, pp. 18-19.
  12. ^ Dopsch 1988: The Romanesque nobility in the Salzburg area, p. 52f
  13. Scheuch 1994: Salzburg - Archbishopric and Imperial Principality, pp. 36–37.
  14. Kurt Holter : Baiern and Slavs in Upper Austria: Problems of land acquisition and settlement . Symposium, November 16, 1978. In: OÖ. Musealverein Gesellschaft für Landeskunde (Ed.): OÖ series of publications. Museum association . tape 10 , 1980, ISBN 978-3-85320-225-8 .
  15. Scheuch 1994: Baiern and the Carolingian Ostland, pp. 24-25.
  16. Quotation Scheuch 1994: Romanized rest of the population. P. 19.
  17. Elof Hellquist: valnöt, fsv. valnöt (-not-, -nut) . In: Svensk etymologisk ordbok . 1st edition. CWK Gleerups förlag, Berlingska boktryckerie, Lund 1922, p. 1086 (Swedish, runeberg.org ).
  18. Helmut Carl, The German Plant and Animal Names: Interpretation and Linguistic Order, Heidelberg 1957, New Print Heidelberg and Wiesbaden 1995, pp. 235 and 270
  19. etymonline.com
  20. a b c d e Ad Welschen: 'Herkomst en geschiedenis van de familie Welschen en de geografische verspreiding van deze Familienaam.' Lf. II, in: Limburgs Tijdschrift voor Genealogie 30 (2002), 68-81; separate bibliography in: Limburgs Tijdschrift voor Genealogie 31 (2003), 34–35 (Dutch).
  21. According to Aleksander Brückner (1856–1939)
  22. Entry Walach , In: etymonline.com (en)
  23. ^ A b Kelley L. Ross: The Vlach Connection and Further Reflections on Roman History. In: Animated History of Romania. Retrieved June 10, 2008 (English, 1997-2003).
  24. Zuzana Kmetova: Wallachian sheep & cattle farming ( Memento of December 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive ). 1997 - on: Preserving And Reconstructing Ancient Buildings Of Wood (PARABOW), Slovenská agentúra životného prostredia (SAŽP), www.sazp.sk
  25. László Makkai: Anonymus on the Hungarian Conquest of Transylvania. Cape. 1-331. Transylvania in the Medieval Hungarian Kingdom (896-1526). In: László Makkai, András Mócsy, Béla Köpeczi (eds.): History of Transylvania, Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Columbia University Press, New York 2001, ISBN 0-88033-479-7 ( web document , E- Book, Magyar Elektronikus Könyvtár, mek.oszk.hu)
  26. Eflak, Muntenia, Ţara Românească, Valahia, Wallachia. In: Encyclopædia Britannica. on-line
  27. Konrad Kunze : dtv-Atlas Namenkunde, dtv 2004, p. 89, ISBN 3-423-03266-9
  28. Entry Vlach. In: Patrick Hanks, Flavia Hodges: A Dictionary of Last Names. Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 558; quoted from Ross: The Vlach Connection, oriblat.com
  29. ^ Robert Elsie: The Christian Saints of Albania. In: Balkanistica 13/2000, pp. 35–37 ( web document , home.olemiss.edu)