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Turkish, Arabic, Spanish for "Germany" are obviously cognate. But not with "Germany" or Deutschland.

At least two of them must be borrowed. Which, and what is the (commonly assumed) source?

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    A good adress to get a first hint is Wiktionary. BTW, same for French (Allemagne), Spanish (Alemania), ... – lemontree Oct 8 '16 at 20:08
  • Says the French got it from Latin. Doesn't say where Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, or Latin got it from (though probably Spanish got it from Latin). BTW, Spanish is Alemaña. – WGroleau Oct 8 '16 at 20:17
  • It does, just check the sites in the corresponding languages (e.g. Latin). Also possibly relevant to you: The "Descendants" section, providing the "reverse etymology" (i.e. a list of all words that this word is a common origin of). About Spanish: Sorry, you are of course right, that was some kind of Freudian slip trying to spell it phonetically. – lemontree Oct 8 '16 at 20:23
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    There is discussion of the Germanic etymology at etymonline.com/index.php?term=Alemanni. – user6726 Oct 8 '16 at 22:01
  • Good suggestions. Probably at least one of them worthy of promotion to "answer." I expected Wiktionary to show them all on one page, forgetting that it only happens when they're all spelled the same. – WGroleau Oct 8 '16 at 22:15
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Spanish Alemaña (as well as French Allemagne and Portuguese Alemanha) derives from Latin Alemannia, which in turn comes from Alemanni, which was a confederation of German tribes. The Online Etymological dictionary says this comes from Proto-Germanic Alamanniz, which possibly meant "all men" (which makes sence, since they were a confederation); an alternative would be "other men", from Latin alius and Proto-Germanic manniz.

It could also be that the Spanish word is a borrowing from French, as it was among the Franks that Allemand first became a term for all "Germans". In this case the etymology of the Spanish word would be more complicated: Proto-Germanic -> Latin -> Frankish -> Old French -> Spanish.

The Arabic word must have been borrowed from Spanish, and the Turkish word would then be a borrowing from Arabic.


To take into account the comments below, Spanish Alemaña derives from Latin Alemannia, either through Frankish -> Old French -> Spanish or through Frankish -> Iberian Romance -> Spanish. The Arabic word must be a borrowing from Iberian Romance or Spanish (because a literate borrowing from Latin would result in word similar to Germania, which was the Classic Latin most common name for the region and its people), and the Turkish word must be a borrowing from Arabic (because if they acquired the word via Eastern Europe instead, they would most likely borrow from either German Deustcheland, Greek Γερμανία, or some slavic language, in which case it would ressemble something like Njemačka).

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  • Why must the Arabic source have been Spanish rather than Latin? – user6726 Oct 9 '16 at 18:45
  • @user6726 - Because Spain was under Moorish rule for half a millenium. But since Spanish was still forming during that period, it would probably be safer to say that the Arabic word was borrowed from Iberic Romance. – Luís Henrique Oct 9 '16 at 20:14
  • I understand the history of Spain, but I assume you know that they had contact with Latin, so on cultural grounds both sources are plausible. How do you decide that it could not have been from Latin? – user6726 Oct 9 '16 at 20:23
  • @user6726: probably because the Arabs were not interested in Latin. the actual people they had contact with did not speak latin. – mobileink Oct 10 '16 at 18:57
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    @user6726 I suppose that if they borrowed the word directly from Latin, especially if from classic sources, they wold borrow Germania, instead of Alemannia. – Luís Henrique Oct 10 '16 at 20:29

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