I have asked this question on History: What is the meaning of the word "vallaque" in the French Wikipedia page on Avignon's history?.

I was about to ask that here too, but I think it's better to ask on History first. Here, on the other hand, I would like to ask more specifically about the credibility of the idea presented at that Wikipedia page that the name of the village of Valaux reflects that odd word vallaque.

"l’Austrasie est l’apanage de Sigebert Ier. Comme l’Austrasie n’a pas de débouché vers la Méditerranée, Sigebert s’ouvre un passage. ... un « couloir austrasien » (ou vallaque) est forcé qui relie l’Auvergne à Marseille coupant en deux la Burgondie de Gondran. Ce passage perdure trente-deux ans."

"Ce couloir austrasien ou vallaque se repère encore par la toponymie ... ... dans les Bouches-du-Rhône ... ... Velaux (Vallacus + suffixe onem)"

"Austrasia is the apanage of Sigebert I. As Austrasia has no outlet to the Mediterranean, Sigebert opens a passage. ... an "Austrasian (or Vallaque) corridor" is forced, connecting Auvergne to Marseilles cutting in two Burgundy of Gondran. This passage lasts thirty-two years."

"This Austrasian or Vallaque corridor is still identified by toponymy ... ... in the Bouches-du-Rhône ... ...Velaux (Vallacus + suffix onem)"

Looking at the Wikipedia page on the village of Velaux the name of which is said to reflect that Vallaque/Vallacus connection, there is no discussion on etymology (although the toponym Vallat is mentioned ("c'est le mot local pour désigner les ruisseaux et rivières" = local word to name streams and rivers).

Velaux' etymology on Wiktionary is absent, but the image there (as well as the Wikipedia page at the other link) clearly say that the Occitan name is Velaurs.

Could that be related etymologically to something like Vallacus, whatever that is?

1 Answer 1


Starting with vallacus, this is most likely a latinisation of the Middle French wallec, which occurs, for example, in Jean Wauquelin’s introduction to his prose version of the 12th century epic poem Girart de Roussillon (1447):

… en nostre langaige maternel que nous disons wallec ou franchoix …

Wauquelin was from Picardie, and the term wallec appears to have been applied not only to the language spoken there and in some of the neighbouring regions, including Wallonia, but also to those regions themselves and to their inhabitants. (Exactly what the connection is between the words wallec and wallon—and thus Wallonia—is not clear, but it would be extraordinary if they were found not to be related. CNRTL has a few words about this under ‘wallon’.)

If vallacus was indeed used in the meaning “from, or relating to, Austrasia”, it would not be surprising to see it appear transformed into vallaque in French, but there are few or no traces of that word in this meaning, so perhaps its existence is just an assumption on the part of whoever decided that it was the root of the placename Velaux.

(In this context, I don’t think we need to concern us with valaque in the meaning ‘Wallachian’, although the three words wallec, wallon, and valaque are probably all related in the sense that they are all descended from a Proto-German word for ‘foreigner’ or ‘not one of us’.)

It seems unlikely to me that Velaux came from vallacus/vallaque, considering that prior to the 15th century the name only appears in manuscripts as various orthographic variants of Velaurs or Velaus, with no trace of the -acus or -aque ending. (Later, it is true, the Latin form Velaucium appears, but that is most reasonably explained as a latinisation of Velaux, the written form that the name had by then evolved into.)

The oldest attested form of the name seems to be Vellaur, assumed to be from the Latin Vellauris. It is difficult to resist the thought that this could be the same name as that of Vallauris (‘Golden Valley’?) near Nice, but perhaps a connection with the Velaui or Velauni mentioned by Caesar is equally likely.

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