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date: 23 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The term river name refers to names of bodies of running water: rivers large and small, streams, brooks, rapids, etc. (hydronyms). River names constitute an important body of linguistic and historical material, owing to their considerable age, wide linguistic range, and role in society. They can bear witness to human thought, activities, and conditions in very remote ages, and naturally to early stages of language development (lexicon, phonology, morphology, and semantics). River names are considered the oldest and most enduring of all surviving place-names in Europe. Many European river names are recorded before, or not long after, the birth of Christ. When trying to establish the age of a river name, scholars have to consider word formation (derivation or composition, primary or secondary name formation, which suffix?), lexicon (words lost early?), extralinguistic circumstances, and the occurrence of identical or related river names in other countries.

Keywords: river name, hydronymy, chronology, lexicon, semantics, word formation, stratification

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