The hydronyms in Panemunėlis area

Laimutis Bilkis

In 1935–1936, 48 hydronyms had been registered in Panemunėlis Valsčius (rural district); 11 names of lakes and 37 names of rivers, brooks, ravines or their parts. 

According to their origin, the hydronyms of Indo-European, general Baltic and Lithuanian layer are distinguished within the Panemunėlis array. The Indo-European layer contains those names which could be formed even before the formation of Lithuanian and, in general, Baltic languages. To explain their origin it is necessary to use the context of many Indo-European languages. A hydronym of such origin might be the lake name Nótigalė. The general Baltic group of hydronyms consists of those, the origin of which can be explained not only by Lithuanian, but also by other Baltic (Latvian, Prussian, Selian) language data. The lake name Alsetâ and such river names as Šetekšna, Žvygupis and Žvygupys can be attributed to this group. In order to explain the origin of the names belonging to the Lithuanian layer, it is enough to have the Lithuanian language. This group contains the highest number of names–43. 

From the word-formation point of view, there are primary hydronyms, i.e., those coinciding with the common words, and the secondary hydronyms, i.e., those formed using the additional word-formation means. According to the word-formation type, there are 18 compound hydronyms, or 37.5%, 11 suffix derivatives, or 22.9%, and nine primary and nine composite hydronyms, or 18.75%, as well as 1 ending derivative, or 2.1%. The trends in formation of Panemunėlis Valsčius hydronyms differ slightly from those in other areas of Lithuania: more than a half of all Lithuanian hydronyms are suffix derivatives, while in Panemunėlis area the compound names prevail; moreover, there are few ending derivatives and not a single prefix derivative.

There is very different semantics of hydronyms or motivation of their formation, but the motives met more often can be distinguished. The most names express peculiarities of stream, water surface, colour, temperature, channel direction, banks, flowing, location and dependence. In rarer cases, the hydronym semantics or motivation can be related to the names of animals, plants, mythological entities. There are two cases, when common hydronyms became the proper names, and one case that can be counted as a metaphor.