-itzes, -ows, -dorfs- and -hausens

Moritz Stefaner, at truth and beauty, put together a list of the geographical frequency of place names in Germany. The whole map can be seen here. A few selections:

Place names Unspecified

I get that -ow and -itz are going to be mostly in the East, since they are usually transliterations of Polish words. But it would be interesting to know why certain other kinds of place names appear in such geographically distinct patterns.

3 thoughts on “-itzes, -ows, -dorfs- and -hausens

  1. Not polish but slavic due to the fact that these areas were mostly populated by slavic tribes in the early middle ages. These slavic tribes together with colonists of german origin were the ancestors of the so-called new german tribes called saxons,thuringians etc. The Suffix -rode is the same as -rade or -rath (as for instance in Benrath) and means these towns were founded on clearings of forests (german: Rodung, verb: roden)


  2. Concerning -ow

    You might want to check out your universities library. The Toponomastik deals with the origin of geographical names. The Wikipedia entry has some nice german sources listed at the bottom


    Tl;DR because swampy areas in the east gets swampy names. Check out “The Conquest of Natur” by David Blackbourne. Germany was a big huge swamp outside mountainous areas.

    As for the -ow there are two origins afaik.

    The old slavic-polnish ending -owe meaning “Ort des…” and the old germanic (500 BC – 600 AC) ending -ög/-öch for “Aue, Wiesenland”. In combination with a place it means grassland enclosure.
    Since the East of Germany was marches, lakes and woods, “Sumpfwiesen/Auen” were the easy to settle places for cattle and agriculture.
    -Öch is considered the origin for most places due the nature of the landscape.

    The polish-slavic explanation for -ow is usally dismissed, because the -itz means in “sorbisch” (slavic variant) “sumpfige Wiese” and is intermingled with the -ow places. Showing germanic/slavic intermingling.

    Now about the -itz second meaning:
    If you switch to old slavic, the meaning comes for some places from “strelci” which means rudimentary “Schützen” and was used for garnisons and places where the local levy met up on the local rulers summon.


  3. Polnisch ist falsch, eher slawisch. Denn Polen gab es damals noch nicht. Es gibt aber auch ganz im Nordwesten Endungen, die ähnlich sind, nämlich -wik oder Weik, oder -wejk. Diese Endungen sind friesisch, vielleicht sogar Wikingersiedlungen.

    An den Vorredner: Erstens gab damals kein Deutschland im heutigen Sinne und zweitens war “Deutschland” gewiß kein großer Sumpf, der von Bergen umgeben war. Wie überall waren die Flussauen sumpfig, da die Flüsse natürlich flossen und nicht begradigt waren.


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