Journal of Romance Studies

Le Far de Meschines – the Strait of Messina: origin and history of the topographical term

Journal of Romance Studies (2008), 8, (2), 9–20.

Abstract

The presence of a lighthouse at the northern entrance of the Strait of Messina between Calabria and Sicily led medieval writers, later historians and lexicographers, and modern editors to confuse its original Norman French name, le Far de Meschines, with derivatives of Greek Pharos, the name of an island in the Bay of Alexandria, where a celebrated lighthouse was located in antiquity. After reviewing the interplay between oral and written tradition, far and phare, the study traces far to a Norman word deriving from Old Danish, meaning ‘fairway, narrow passage at sea’.

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Sayers, William