Hmm…interesting etymological observation

14 Sep

The common Indo-European root between “άκρη” in Greek — “akre” — and krai/kraj in Slavic languages…?

From my post, Turkish Alevis and Syrian (or Lebanese…or Turkish?) Alawites — a Twitter exchange:

The “akrites” were the Byzantine border warlords who defended the Empire’s southern frontier — the άκρη or “edge” [akre] — which as I mentioned here is what the word “krai” or “kraj” in Ukraine means, or in Serbo-Croatian Krajina — but were half-Arab culturally and every other way themselves.  The most famous is the ballad of “Digenes Akritas” who was born of a Greek father and Arab mother.   


The Krajina region of Croatia (in green…roughly…it didn’t include Dubrovnik) where the Hapsburgs settled large numbers of Serbs starting in the 17th century, to guard their “kraj” — their frontier — against the Ottomans.  With Krajina Serbs the bearers of this tradition of armed frontiersmen, this was arguably the tinder-box region of Serbian minority Croatia where the whole war began.


2 Responses to “Hmm…interesting etymological observation”

  1. Philopomeon September 27, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    Interesting point, I believe this words are both cognates to the english “acrimonia” ie. ‘animosity” from the meaning of the root “to be edged”. Acri cognate in Latin also means “sharp” or to “jut out” Akros also has the meaning in Greek as a “town” or Castled area. ‘Kraj” in Slavic can also mean something like ” city” or “place”. ie. Iz katerega kraja si ravnokar prišel? “What place did you just come from?” Interesting indeed!

    On the Akritans- I’ve always thought of them as “Mardaites”- the mysterious people of the Byzantine frontier- maybe Arabs, maybe Armenians, maybe some unknown and extinct people. (Btw some scholars have traced the appearance of the toponym “Morea” in Greece to these Mardaites….

    Cheers Nick!

  2. Philopomeon September 27, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    er rather *ἄκρα* not akros means castle or town

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