Dear Mr. Newcomb, like you, I'd like to think of the word "America" as a compendium of "ame"-love and "rica"-riches; it certainly seems to fit. However, just for the sake of accuracy, I don't believe we are correct. As far as I know, from what I learned in history books in school, America was named for "Amerigo" Vespucci, an Italian explorer, contemporary and friend of Columbus, who did more extensive voyages after him, and to whom was given the great honor of lending his name to the New World. Apparently, it was Martin Waldseemuller, a French cartographer, who decided to name the new continent “America” on his world map of 1507. As explained in Wikipedia: “It was the publication and widespread circulation of the letters [describing Vespucci's voyages] that might have led Martin Waldseemüller to name the new continent America on his world map of 1507 in Lorraine. Vespucci used a Latinised form of his name, Americus Vespucius, in his Latin writings, which Waldseemüller used as a base for the new name, taking the feminine form America, according to the prevalent view (for other hypotheses, see the footnote in the introduction). The book accompanying the map stated: "I do not see what right any one would have to object to calling this part, after Americus who discovered it and who is a man of intelligence, Amerige, that is, the Land of Americus, or America: since both Europa and Asia got their names from women". Amerigo itself is an Italian form of the medieval Latin Emericus (see also Saint Emeric of Hungary), which through the German form Heinrich (in English, Henry) derived from the Germanic name Haimirich." The bottom line? Amerigo turns out to be an Italian form of Henry!!! Who’d have thought it?
Monday, October 17, 2011 - 21:28