Anmerkungen zu den Flussnamen lit. „Liẽkė“, „Liekà“ und ihrer Sippe

  • Harald Bichlmeier
Keywords: Old European hydronymy, Celtic hydronyms, Lithuanian hydronyms, ‘false friends’


    The river-names Lith. Liẽkė, Liekà (and their siblings) are sometimes mentioned in papers dealing with the so-called ‘Old-European hydronymy’. Traditionally they are etymologized on the basis of a root PIE *(h1)lei̯k- ‘bend’. This root, however, probably never existed, at least there seem to be no descendents from it in the appellatival lexicon of any IE language. Thus the root – if it ever existed – cannot be ascribed a meaning. So it seems more appropriate to derive the Lithuanian river-names from the root PIE *u̯lei̯k- ‘moisten, be liquid’.
    Parallelly the river-name Lech (a river in Austria and Bavaria) was also analyzed based on the two roots mentioned, PIE *(h1)lei̯k- ‘bend’ and PIE *u̯lei̯k- ‘moisten, be liquid’. As just mentioned, the first one, however, never existed – and the second one cannot be the starting point because of phonological reasons. The river-name Lech is based on a Celtic formation ‘the one with stone(-plate)s’: PIE *pl̥(h2)k-(m)néh2- > PCelt. *(φ)likkā-.
    Thus it is clear that the river-names Lith. Liẽkė, Liekà etc. and Germ. Lech do not have a common etymology.