The Waterfall’s Slapping


The root of Sapis (now Savio) is *sap-, as shown by the Tribus Sapinia of Umbrians dwelling around the river, with their principal town at *Sapinium (now Sapigno). The river-name cannot be decomposed as SA-PIS.

Douglas G. Kilday

There is a river Sapna in eastern Bosnia, Savinja in Slovenia (tributary of Sava) Drina's tributary, and there is a valley Sapna in Iraq and a river with the same name. The Germans named the river Savinja Sann and that example showed all the difficulties we have to struggle with when the names of certain "modern" toponyms are concerned. If Savinja could become Sann than we could only imagine what corruption the old (ancient) toponyms, written by the Roman writers, have survived.

The first association that crossed my mind when the name Sapna is in question was the Sanskrit word 'svapati' (sleep; Serb. spavati); i.e. svapna => sapna. Of course, I rejected that idea almost immediately: for god's sake, who would have ever gave such an "uninventive" name to a river? A sleeping river? No! Then I thought that Sapna and Savinja could have something in common with the Thracian god Sabazios (known in Serbia as Savaot) but I quickly rejected that idea too. I couldn't remember any river that might have been directly associated with the some of the god's names.

I supposed that Sapna could be (as for most of river's names) somehow related to water, wetness or some of the many water activities. Maybe the name Sapna is related to the kind of words as flow (Serbian plaviti). In a moment, I thought that the problem is solved; namely, Sapna and Savinja are the quick mountainous rivers and people were using the power of their streams to transport the timber on rafts for millenniums. In Serbian raft is called 'splav' but rafting is not splavanje (as I would have wanted it to be) but splavarenje; too long and not likely to be reduced to Savinja (splavarenje could eventually become sviranje /playing/!):yikes: 

Finally, I tried to think more "liberally"; why not begin with the words as pour, stream, splash, douche, tide…? There is a river in Romania called Slava, mouthing into the Black Sea, and there is a great number of rivers and other toponyms in the Balkan with the names Savinja, Slavinja, Slivnica, Slavina. In Slovenia there are PN Slavinje (cf. Serb. slavina a tap) and rivers Savinja and Slivnica. Additionally, river Sapna is reach with the waterfalls as well as rivers Savinja and Slivnica are. Waterfall is called “slap” in Serbian and it would be very easy to erase the sound "l" from the supposed word 'slapna'; slapna => sapna; cf. Loch Slapin in Scotland.

What about a contraction of Sap- and -pis to Sapis? Pistoriae (also -ia, -ium, now Pistoia) is probably simply 'Bakersville', from Latin 'baker'.

Maybe Lat. pistris (sea monster, shark, whale), piscor (fish), piscina (fish pond, a swimming pool); Italian pisciare (piss; cf. Serb. pišati, pišuria piss, pišura a sloppy woman); also Serbian pesak (sand), peskara (sandy pond). All these words are coming from the Bel- Gon (or Bel-Gon-Hor) womb (cf. Serbian vlaga wetness, voda water, vodenost wetness, Greek ά-φυδρος without water, υδραίνω equal to Serbian vodurina a big water, Ger. feucht). Sometimes the phonetic changes inside the IE languages are taking a of phantasmagoric dimension: just compare German Feuchtikeit (wetness) and Serbian vodnjikavost wetness, as if filled with water 🙂

I still prefer the meaning of water in motion. TOR means a bull in motion. PIS TOR could then be water in motion…

Franz Gnaedinger

Right! TOR has the meaning "motion" (mo-tor!) but it originally came from the primeval Hor- syllable (Serbian krenuti start to go, kretanje motion, English run. German rennen, Latin cursus rapid motion, run, curro currere to run, Greek ρέω run, flow). Initially, the ancient people connected any kind of motion to the flow (CURRENT) of river water (Serbian reka river, Spanish rio).

Etruscan F- and V- are not interchangeable. Apart from the suffix – na, Felsina has nothing to do with the family name Velzna, the basis of Velznal 'Volsinii' (now Orvieto; the inhabitants were forcibly removed and resettled at Volsinii Novi, now Bolsena). Velz-na cannot be divided as VEL-ZNA.

There is a lake Vlasina (Vlasinsko Jezero) in the eastern part of Serbia and it could be compared to the lake of Bolsena (Lago di Bolsena). I am surprised that Abdullah and his "Proto-Illyrian" mentors (G. Starostin and Lubotsky) have not yet taken that "fact" to coroborate their "Shqip-Illirian proto-PIE language" and "the mother of all European mothers" (not sister!).

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