This is why Paris is more like Hull than Troy

PUBLISHED: 14:40 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:40 31 July 2017

Top, Hull’s riverside. Bottom, a view of Paris from Notre-Dame roof

Top, Hull’s riverside. Bottom, a view of Paris from Notre-Dame roof

Archant

Parisians might like to claim a link for their city back to ancient Greece. In fact the stronger connection is a Yorkshire one

The capital of France has many names. In the Gaelic of Ireland it is known as Páras; the Finnish name is Pariisi; it is called Parijs in Dutch; and in Lithuanian it is known as Paryžius. Our English-language name is of course the same as the French name – except that it isn’t, because we say it in a completely different way, with the stress on the first syllable and the ‘s’ at the end of the name actually being pronounced.

Many other languages also use the same ‘Paris’ spelling as French but then pronounce the name in their own way: this is true of German, Swedish, Turkish, and Portuguese. But elsewhere on the continent there are many other non-French versions of the name of the city: there is Bosnian Pariz, Estonian Pariis, Hungarian Párizs, Latvian Parīze, and Greek Parisi. The Spanish form París looks the same as the French, until you notice that there is an accent above the i in the last syllable.

This is not quite the same kind of situation as in Belgium, with Mons (the French-language name) being called Bergen in Dutch, or Liège being known as Lüttich in German. It is clear that all of these different European variants of the name of the French capital city are simply versions of the same single word. Paris, like London, Athens, Munich and Florence, has all these different names in these different languages because of its historical importance and its status as a world-famous city. In Britain, it is only places such as London and Edinburgh which have several different names in foreign languages.

The earliest known name of Paris was the Latin word used by the Romans, Lutetia. This name is probably derived from the Celtic language of the pre-Roman inhabitants of northern France, a Celtic language – which was closely related to the language of the ancient Britons on the other side of the English Channel – which survives in modern times as Welsh.

Crucially, though, the Roman town was also known more specifically as Lutetia Parisiorum, signifying ‘Lutetia of the Parisii’, the point being that the Parisii were the Gaulish Celtic tribe who inhabited this area. They had been living on the banks of the Seine in the area of modern Paris from around 250 BC. In his dictionary of the Gaulish language, the historical linguist and lexicographer Xavier Delamarre has suggested that the name of the tribe came from the Celtic root pario- ‘cauldron’, indicating that they might have taken their name after a type of Iron Age Celtic cooking vessel. The American linguist Professor Eric Hamp, on the other hand, has suggested that the name of the tribe came from a Celtic root which would have been something like peri-, meaning ‘to command’ or ‘to cause to have something done’. Their name, then, may have been equivalent to ‘the commanders’. It is certainly true that in modern Welsh peri means ‘to cause’; but otherwise we cannot be exactly sure.

What is sure is that there is no connection, as has sometimes been fancifully suggested, with Páris, the figure from ancient Greek history who was the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy and who famously carried off Helen, the Queen of Sparta, supposedly causing the Trojan War. His name was certainly not Celtic, and probably came from one of the languages of ancient Asia Minor, such as Luwian.

Interestingly, there was also a small Celtic tribe known as the Parisii in northern England. It is possible that they were linked to the Gaulish Parisii in some way, and may at some stage have been the same people: the same etymologies have been proposed for their tribal name as for the Gaulish Parisii.

These British Parisii are known to have lived in the coastal area of eastern Yorkshire. If things had worked out differently, Hull might have been called Paris.

Support The New European's vital role as a voice for the 48%

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

  • Become a friend of The New European for a contribution of £48. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish)
  • Become a partner of The New European for a contribution of £240. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook
  • Become a patron of The New European for a contribution of £480. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook and an A3 print of The New European front cover of your choice, signed by Editor Matt Kelly

By proceeding, you agree to the New Europeans supporters club Terms & Conditions which can be found here.



Supporter Options

Mention Me in The New European



If Yes, Name to appear in The New European



Latest Articles

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New Ukip leader Henry Bolton named the party's new 'shadow cabinet' today - and what a bunch they are

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Catalonians against self-rule came out in their thousands the weekend before last.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It might seem quixotic, at a time when Spain looks like it is falling apart, but could the country’s future lie in a union with neighbour Portugal? DAVID BARKER investigates ‘Iberism’

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

ALEXANDRA HADDOW on the Nordic trendsetters who have style sussed

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A second referendum that reverses Brexit would have a "positive" and "significant" impact on the UK economy, which is on track to be crippled by its EU divorce, an influential think tank claimed today.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Making money is no longer enough for firms, say ANGELA JAMESON

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The question, in a quiet voice, came from a woman in the audience at the Henley Festival’s Brexit debate, in a quiet voice: “So what do I tell my children now? They planned to live and work for a time in Europe. What now?”

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Millions of families already struggling with soaring prices could end up being another £500 worse off if Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal, according to a report.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A day of action across the UK saw thousands of people take to the streets to demand Brexit is stopped.

Friday, October 13, 2017

People have been asking me if I know Simon Brodkin, the character-comedian/prankster who interrupted the Prime Minister’s conference speech to hand her a mock redundancy notice.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Angela Merkel’s power has taken a blow in the wake of the German election. Here Tony Paterson reports from Berlin on the new shape of German politics.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Roland Garros had every intention of pursuing a career as a concert pianist. An air show outside Reims during the late summer of 1909 changed all that.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Chancellor has admitted no Brexit deal could leave planes grounded in March 2019.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Catalonian crisis has put Europe, as well as Spain, in jeopardy, says PAUL KNOTT.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

It’s not a stretch to say that the economics of digital advertising are to blame for disasters like Brexit and Trump.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Boris Johnson is desperate to get into Number 10 – but it seems the Prime Minister has other ideas.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

We’re living in the Age of Cool Dad, with politicians obsessed with burnishing their pop culture credentials, says SAMIRA AHMED.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Theresa May has claimed “the ball is in their court” in a statement to the House of Commons updating MPs on the Brexit negotiations. Brussels, however, disagree.

Monday, October 9, 2017

By attempting to quash the result before it was even known, Madrid has made the case for Catalan independence all but unanswerable.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Lawyers have told the Government that Article 50 is not binding and can be scrapped at any time before the March 2019 deadline, it has been claimed.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The deluded fantasies of Leavers must have been inspired by the big screen says Have I Got News For You writer NATHANIEL TAPLEY. Here, he brings you the most Brexity films of all time.

Monday, October 9, 2017

France might be home of its most famous race, but Italy is the country with cycling in its DNA. To find out why, Patrick Sawer makes a tearful pilgrimage to its shrine to the sport.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Trieste, the city which has survived centuries of seductive illusions.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

As ambitions go, Lee Humphries’ is an unusual, if lofty, one – to ascend the highest points of 100 different countries. As he crests the halfway mark in his quest, he explains all to Julian Shea.

Friday, October 6, 2017

PETER TRUDGILL traces the clockwork progress of the word ‘orange’ from southern India to northern Europe, and finds the odd detour.

Friday, October 6, 2017

JUSTIN REYNOLDS on the Thomas Mann novel which tried to make sense of the descent of Europe’s most cultured nation into Nazism.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

In the days before Stephen Paddock reignited America’s gun control debate by raining down rapid fire carnage on the Las Vegas strip, a familiar voice was again calling the shots inside Donald Trump’s head.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ahead of the return to London of arguably his greatest work, Glengarry Glen Ross, Charlie Connelly considers the craft of polymath and playwright David Mamet.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

As with other such tragedies, the Las Vegas massacre quickly brought out the worst of the internet, says JONO READ.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

They have a new leader, but do they have a new purpose? RICHARD PORRITT went behind enemy lines at the UKIP conference and found a party on the brink.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Spain is facing an existential threat, says JASON WALSH, with the country’s fragile compromise – which has held since the end of Franco’s dictatorship – now in tatters.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What does it say about the Conservative government that Boris Johnson, a man whose record for lying, cheating and disgracing himself on the national stage stands alone in our political history, is not only tolerated in government, but actually holds one of the great offices of state?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Steve Anglesey rounds up the losers and losers (because there are no winners) of another crazy seven days on Planet Brexit.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

RICHARD PORRITT with this week's big stories.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Now the hype is over, what can we expect next from the king of hygge? As our culture correspondent Viv Groskop reports, it’s time to like lykke.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Gin has undergone a remarkable resurgence in popularity in recent years, with many new brands and flavours emerging. There are some older producers, though, with a heritage even stronger than the gin they create.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

There's good news and bad news for online news publishers: The good is that people are increasingly willing to pay for digital news subscriptions. The bad is that news often takes a back seat to entertainment services like Netflix and Spotify.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Peter Trudgill on a remarkable discovery which transformed the way we think about languages.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Jack Lang meets the football coach who has eschewed the English game to carve out a career in the dugouts of Latvia.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How the 'Flying Finn' dominated distance running during the 1920s through sheer dogged determination more than natural talent.

Podcast

Trending

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter