The Names of Germany


Recently I learned that the Polish way to refer to Germany (Niemcy) means “those who don’t speak”. That’s a beautifully evocative descriptor, isn’t it? It’s hard not to have noticed the variety of names given to Germany and Germans, summerized at Wikipedia. In fact, Italians even keep Germans (tedesci) separate from Germany (Germania). The difference in English between German and Germanic is a bit too subtle, but once understood quite clear. The origin of the root in French (Allemagne) is also not suprising. The Finnish Saksa even less. However, the remaining mystery was the Danish/Scandinavian Tyskland. Did that mean something colorful like in Polish?

Nope! The latinised Theodiscus, from þeudō, was seperately transformed to tedesci, tyskland, and Deutsch/Dutch/Diets. Þeudō means people, just as what Deutsch/Dutch/Diets still mean. And þeudō, doesn’t that sound very similar to Teuton? Indeed, Teuton derives from þeudanaz, which means leader of the people.