"Leire": forms, uses and etymology of a place-name



Argitaratua 2015-06-14
Iker Basterrika


After having compiled the mentions of Leire until 1202, we have classified them according to several criteria in order to determine the toponym's first written and oral forms and to understand relations between them. We suggest that these forms can take us back to two old forms of the toponym (*Le/j/erius and *Le/j/orius), which can be a result of two distinct phonetic evolutions of the Frank anthroponym Leodegarius. Thus, *Le/j/erius would derive from Old French (Leger). It was used in more formal contexts: it is the first documented form and the one used preferably by Church hierarchs to name the monastery of Leire. The evolution of the forms *Le/j/orius, in turn, would involve a metathesis which we find both in the medieval Basque onomastics (Ligoarius) and in the Aquitanian toponymy (Liguaire). This form, found in Romance and Basque contexts, was the vernacular and less formal one. The anthroponym Leodegarius might refer to a bishop of Autun, the leader of one of the factions fighting in the Merovingian kingdoms in the late 7th century, and martyr linked to the subsequent rise of the Carolingians. So, the toponym Leire could correspond to a dedication and foundation of a Frank monastery contemporary to the Carolingian counties of Pamplona and Aragon at the beginning of the 9th century.

Nola aipatu

Basterrika, Iker. 2015. «"Leire": Forms, Uses and Etymology of a Place-Name». Anuario Del Seminario De Filología Vasca "Julio De Urquijo" 49 (1/2):1-116. https://doi.org/10.1387/asju.18812.
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