Monday, 2 November 2009

Hanibalo kaj la Glaciejoj

…de la Environmental Research Web:

...Amazingly, the Romans managed to create an empire that lasted 500 years without having a word for glacier. Amazing to me as a glaciologist, that is. I can see that there would not be much call for such a word in ancient Greek – all those sun-drenched islands – but the Romans needed to cross the Alps regularly, and on one vividly-recorded occasion to cope with Hannibal and his elephants.

A few articles ago, I was able to trace the word glacier back to 1332 on the strength of documentary evidence, and more conjecturally to some date in the post-Roman period when some unknown speaker of Franco-provencal first uttered a word from which our modern form could have descended…

…How could Polybius, who writes proudly of how he made the passage of the Alps so as to see for himself the terrain he was immortalizing, not have noticed the weird whitish things hanging from the ridges and creeping down the valleys? Surely the local inhabitants, if they had a word for them either in Latin or, more probably, a Celtic language akin to modern Breton and Welsh, would have given him the word?...

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