January 17, 2012

What are the Hungarian and Romanian Names of Transylvania

In the last post, I wrote about the names Transylvania, and many people in North America know the area by Transylvania.  Sometimes, however, it is be spelled differently: Transilvania.  However, if you go to Transylvania, Romania, you will hear some very different names for the same place.


Before the First World War, people who lived in Transylvania were citizens of Hungary, and after the end of the war they were citizens of Romania.  If you are of a Romanian background, you would say that Transylvania is called: Ardeal, and if you are Hungarian it is Erdely.

To most people, these written names look similar to one another and both are found in their written form in the space of 200 years. The Gesta Hungarorum (there is an argument about its reliability but for this point I will use it) mentions Erdely it its pages - though in that work, the spelling was Erdeuelu.

The Romanian version of the name of Transylvania began as Ardeliu, but this changed over centuries.  Now the spelling is Ardeal.

There are more theories about how each of the names developed, but it is interesting to people who do not speak either language to see the similarities there.  Both cultures view their names as being separate or that one came before the other.

The name of Transylvania in either Hungarian or Romanian an intensely political topic for many people, and countless pages have been written about the origins of each of the words.  Still, these are just two of the many names that Transylvania has been given.  Interestingly, they are similar in spelling, but are rooted in two very different cultures:  Hungarian and Romanian.



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