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How can I figure out the Latin declension of a proper name, especially a city name?

For example, consider the city of Marash in Turkey. It appears in various forms in medieval Latin sources: Marasim, Mariscum, Marasiam, Maresiam, Maresc, Maresch, Marafim… What is the nominative of the city name? Is there a way to find it?

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    I edited your question quite a bit in an attempt to clarify it. Feel free to edit it again or undo my edits! – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 8 '17 at 21:17
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    I suspect "Marafim" is actually a misreading of the long "s" for "f" – brianpck Feb 10 '17 at 22:54
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You could use this site: https://pleiades.stoa.org/.

It is a great tool which provides data about ancient names of cities and places. It gives scientifically approved coordinates of places, detailed informations about their names and further bibliographical references.

Here is the city of Marʿaš with all the names along the ages. As you can see, they changes through the centuries:

Caesarea Germanice (30 BC - AD 300)

Germanicia (30 BC - AD 300)

Germanikeia (30 BC - AD 640)

Germanikeia (140 BC - AD 1307)

Germanikeia Kaisareia (30 BC - AD 226)

K. Maraş (AD 1918 - AD 2000)

Kahramanmaraş (AD 1918 - AD 2000)

Marasch (Attested dates needed)

Maraş (1750 BC - AD 2000)

Maraš (1200 BC - 1199 BC)

Mariscum (AD 1081 - AD 1291)

Marqasi (1200 BC - 330 BC)

Marʿaš (1200 BC - AD 1922)

Marʿaš (1200 BC - AD 1922)

The ancient nominatives of the latin names are:

1) Caesarea Germanice (1st declension)

2) Germanicia (1st declension)

while Mariscum is the nominative (2nd declension) of the medieval latin name of the city.

  • "Marasim, Mariscum, Marasiam, Maresiam, Maresc, Maresch, Maresch, Marafim" why are there different variety name city of Marash? for example city of Antioch is always "Antioch" in Medieval Latin sources. What is your opinion about this? Thank you for your help. – turuncu Feb 10 '17 at 17:37
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    It depends on the sources where they are attested, which could be written in one language or another over times. Mariscum is the latinized form of the name, just like Constantinople is the anglicized form of Constantinoupolis – Alessio Feb 11 '17 at 0:58
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There were generally three options for foreign names in Latin:

  1. The name had a Latin-like ending on it already. If it ended in -a, for instance, it would probably be treated as a first-declension feminine.
  2. The name was given a new Latin ending, and declined appropriately. Mariscum for instance was given the second-declension neuter ending -um.
  3. The name was left as-is in every case. This notably happened with Jerusalem, which is Jerusalem in the nominative, genitive, dative...

I personally dislike the third option, since it disguises the case of the noun. And "-ash" doesn't sound like any standard Latin nominative. So I'd go with the second.

If you want to use the medieval names, you could use Mariscum, -ī, or Maresc, -escis, or any of the others you listed. Or you could come up with your own version, like Marasia, -æ.

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