of the Idea
I was a teenager, I have always been interested in languages.
Speaking and writing correctly are issues I have been
concerned about and that still today lead me to learn
something new every day. Many of us may have surely wondered
some time why our country bears the name with which we
usually name it.
Some years ago, while I was studying Portuguese in the
School of Engineering at the University of Buenos Aires,
in one of the classes delivered by Sirlei, my teacher,
she commented on the origin of the name "Brazil".
That day I became aware that in every single country in
the world people are taught about the origin of the name
of their mother country. This idea was confirmed when
I had the chance of meeting some people from Canada and
Taiwan. They told me that during their school years, they
had been explained the etymology of the name of their
countries, but somehow they were not able to remember
it any longer.
So, I came to the conclusion that the inhabitants of different
countries have learnt some time in their school years
the origin of the name of the country they live in, but
as they grow older, they often forget though they can
recall having been taught so. Few are the ones who can
remember the etymology of the name of their country, even
fewer the ones who are acquainted with those of the neighboring
countries and very few the ones who claim they know those
of other latitudes.
The idea of writing this book is based precisely on my
curiosity to know a bit more about this issue. I have
found some names particularly odd. Others were familiar,
but all of them must definitely have an origin, an explanation.
I started looking for some bibliography about this and
it turned out to be not a simple chore. In fact, I was
not able to find any book that provided the information
I needed. I occasionally came across some meanings of
the names of countries in encyclopedias, but their explanations
were not complete. Neither was my search satisfactory
once I had finished collecting data from the Internet.
There, I also became aware that there were lots of people
from all over the world who had similar queries, even
about their own countries. Therefore, I concluded that
there was no book that defined the origin of those names.
What was started off out of curiosity turned into major
concern, and I finally decided to investigate the subject
in a systematic way.
I found lots of stumbling blocks in the way and even some
surprises because the investigation allowed me to find
countries in which time had completely erased the origin
of their names and there were few traces left about their
meaning. This accounts for the fact that nowadays there
is not a single explanation about the origin of the names
of some countries and, on the other hand, many investigators
concoct different hypotheses about this. Moreover, I have
found it interesting to include the origin of many islands
which - because of their history, importance or simply
their popularity - are even more difficult to find. Of
course, I could not overlook the name of the continents
since in fact all countries and islands belong in one.
I once again insist that in case the reader can provide
a well-founded interpretation of the origin of the name
of some countries, or if he or she can find the origin
of those few that have been not fully explained, he or
she should send it to me and I will be glad to include
it in future editions.
The book has been published in Spanish and Portuguese, in short time, it will be edited in English.