Rūs or Rus? Or What the Arab Geographers Can Deliver on Slavic Historical Phonology.
Guest lecture by Andriy Danylenko, professor of Russian and Slavic linguistics in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at Pace University (New York) and Research Associate at Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.
The paper looks into a system of ethnic, personal and place names of early Slavs as rendered in the works of the Islamic descriptive school of geography, e.g., Bīrūni (973–1048), “Hudūd al-‘Ālam” (982), Abu Bakr al-Zuhrī (1130–1150), and earlier Al-Mas‘ūdi (893–956), and especially Al-Idrīsī (1100–1165). In addition to a survey of Islamic attestations of Slavic ethnic, personal, and place names, the author looks into the system of Arabic script and its capability to reflect sound changes taking place in Common Slavic and its historical dialects. A special emphasis is placed on the names of Rus’, Varangians, Vepsians, and Kyiv. The author offers recommendations for the use of the relevant material by the historians of Slavic as well as early Islamic-Slavic contacts.