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When were the world's seven continents first named?

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Elimu (Education Forum)' started by Bujibuji, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. Bujibuji

    Bujibuji JF-Expert Member

    Oct 31, 2012
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    "In Greek mythology, Europa was a Phoenician princess who was abducted by Zeus in bull form and taken to the island of Crete, where she gave birth to Minos. For Homer, Europa was a mythological queen of Crete, not a geographical designation. Later Europa stood for mainland Greece and by 500 BC its meaning was extended to lands to the north."

    "The name Africa came into Western use through the Romans, who used the name Africa terra � "land of the Afri" (plural, or "Afer" singular) � for the northern part of the continent, as the province of Africa with its capital Carthage, corresponding to modern-day Tunisia.

    The origin of Afer may either come from:

    the Phoenician `afar, dust;
    the Afri, a tribe�possibly Berber�who dwelt in North Africa in the Carthage area;
    the Greek word aphrike, meaning without cold (see also List of traditional Greek place names);
    or the Latin word aprica, meaning sunny.
    The historian Leo Africanus (1495-1554) attributed the origin to the Greek word phrike (meaning "cold and horror"), combined with the negating prefix a-, so meaning a land free of cold and horror. But the change of sound from ph to f in Greek is datable to about the first century, so this cannot really be the origin of the name.

    Egypt was considered part of Asia by the ancients, and first assigned to Africa by the geographer Ptolemy (85 - 165 AD), who accepted Alexandria as Prime Meridian and made the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea the boundary between Asia and Africa. As Europeans came to understand the real extent of the continent, the idea of Africa expanded with their knowledge."

    "The word Asia entered English via Latin from Ancient Greek, first attested in Herodotus, where it refers to Asia Minor, or for the purposes of the Persian Wars, to the Persian Empire as opposed to Greece and Egypt. Homer knows a Trojan ally named Asios, son of Hyrtacus, a ruler over several towns, and also describes a marsh as 461).

    The Greek term was likely from Assuwa, a 14th century BC confederation of states in ancient Anatolia. Hittite assu- "good" is a likely element in that name. Elamites numeous in the east called themselves As, and at least one Aryan people on the central Eurasian steppes called themselves Asi. Alternatively, the ultimate etymology of the term may be from the Akkadian word asu, which means "to go out" or "to rise", referring to the direction of the sun at sunrise in the Middle East. Compare to this the suggestion for the etymology of Europe from Semitic erebu "to set". The motives for the names of Asia and Europe would thus mirror each other, much like the terms orient and occident (the names Anatolia and Levant likewise signify "sunrise"). This suggestion is widely quoted, but it suffers from the fact that Anatolia from an Akkadian or generally Semitic perspective does not lie in the east."

    "The earliest known use of the name America for the continents of the Americas dates from 1507. It appears on a globe and a large map created by the German cartographer Martin Waldseem�ller in Saint-Di�-des-Vosges. An accompanying book, Cosmographiae Introductio, explains that the name was derived from the Latinized version of the explorer Amerigo Vespucci's name, Americus Vespucius, in its feminine form, America, as the other continents all have Latin feminine names. Christopher Columbus, who had first brought the continents' existence to the attention of Renaissance era voyagers, had died in 1506 (believing, to the end, that he'd discovered and conquered part of India) and could not protest Waldseem�ller's decision.

    A few alternative theories regarding the continents' naming have been proposed, but none of them have any widespread acceptance. One alternative first proposed by a Bristol antiquary and naturalist, Alfred Hudd, was that America is derived from Richard Amerike, a merchant from Bristol, who is believed to have financed John Cabot's voyage of discovery from England to Newfoundland in 1497. Supposedly, Bristol fishermen had been visiting the coast of North America for at least a century before Columbus' voyage and Waldseem�ller's maps are alleged to incorporate information from the early British journeys to North America. The theory holds that a variant of Amerike's name appeared on an early British map (of which however no copies survive) and that this was the true inspiration for Waldseem�ller.

    Another theory, first advanced by Jules Marcou in 1875 and later recounted by novelist Jan Carew, is that the name America derives from the district of Amerrique in Nicaragua. The gold-rich district of Amerrique was purportedly visited by both Vespucci and Columbus, for whom the name became synonymous with gold. According to Marcou, Vespucci later applied the name to the New World, and even changed the spelling of his own name from Alberigo to Amerigo to reflect the importance of the discovery.

    Vespucci's role in the naming issue, like his exploratory activity, is unclear. Some sources say that he was unaware of the widespread use of his name to refer to the new landmass. Others hold that he promulgated a story that he had made a secret voyage westward and sighted land in 1491, a year before Columbus. If he did indeed make such claims, they backfired, and only served to prolong the ongoing debate on whether the "Indies" were really a new land, or just an extension of Asia"

    The name Australia is derived from the Latin australis, meaning southern. Legends of an "unknown southern land" (terra australis incognita) date back to the Roman times, and were commonplace in medi�val geography, but were not based on any actual knowledge of the continent. The Dutch adjectival form Australische ("Australian", in the sense of "southern") was used by Dutch officials in Batavia to refer to the newly discovered land to the south as early as 1638."

    "...from Greek word for "opposite the Arctic". Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis ("Southern Land") go back to antiquity, the first commonly accepted sighting of the [antarctic] continent occurred in 1820 and the first verified landing in 1821..."


    This a good link, just click on the continent name for more info.

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