Names of Kosovo
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The name Kosovo (as referred to in this spelling) is the most frequently used form in English when discussing the region in question. The Albanian spelling Kosova has lesser currency. The alternative spellings Cossovo and Kossovo were frequently used until the early 20th century
Kosovo (Serbian Cyrillic: Косово) is the Serbian neuter possessive adjective of kos (кос) "blackbird", from the ancient Greek kοssyfos (κόσσυφος, blackbird) an ellipsis for the Byzantine Gr. toponym Kossyfopedion (the field of blackbirds). In Serbian is known as Kosovo Polje "field of the blackbirds", the site of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo Field. The name of the field was applied to an Ottoman province created in 1864. In Greek the full name of the historical region is Kossyfopèdio meaning field (-pèdio) of the blackbirds (Kossyfi-).
The name Kosovo (also spelled Kosowo) is a popular name of numerous places and villages in some Slavic countries. Moreover, unlike the Albanian variant of the name which has absolutely no meaning in the Albanian language, the Serbian name "Kosovo" has its specific meaning, which is nearly the same in most Slavic languages (e.g. the Polish word "kos" likewise means "a blackbird", while "kosowo" in Polish means "a region of blackbirds"), and therefore it is suggested, that the name of Kosovo might have pure Slavic origin.
Albanian usage may contain the definite article, as such it varies (Kosova vs. Kosovë). The question does not arise in Serbian, which has no definite article.
The use of these spelling variants is a highly sensitive political issue for both Serbs and Albanians, who regard the use of the other side's name as being a denial of their own side's territorial rights.
Albanians refer to Kosovo as Dardania, the name of a Roman province located in Central Balkans that was formed in 284 AD which covered the territory of modern Kosovo. The name is derived from the Albanian word "dardha/dardā" which means pear, and for the country meaning "The land of pears". The former Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova had been an enthusiastic backer of a "Dardanian" identity and the Kosovan flag and presidential seal refer to this national identity. However, the name "Kosova" remains more widely used among the Albanian population.
- "Kossovo". Volume V15, Page 916 of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
- H.G.Liddell, R.Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, article "κόσσυφος"
- Albanian Etymological Dictionary, V.Orel, Koninklijke Brill ,Leiden Boston Köln 1998, p.56