Călin in M. Eminescu’s Poetry and in Romanian Folklore (some linguistic observations)


  • Nikolay Sukhachev Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), Saint Petersburg


Călin is the name of the character of the unfinished tale in prose conceived by Mihai Eminescu (1850–1889) “Calin the crazy” (1875) and also of his poem “Călin (pages of fairy tales)” (November 1, 1876). In Romanian folklore we may find as well the female equivalent of this name. Călina is the heroine of the folk tale from Moldova “Who is the most beautiful?” (the first publication in 1892). It is a variety of the story of the sleeping beauty  (the beautiful bride), who was defamed and perished out of envy. The hero of the Eminescu’s poem (Călin) incarnates the popular idea of the so-called Zburătorul that means a flying demon – a very attractive young man who nightly breaks into the bedrooms of young girls, especially newly-weds. This personification correlates with a typical Turkic folklore female character Gelin, who seduces young men and lives her grave to kill them.
The Romanian name Călin(a) seems to bee of Turkic origin, compare: Old Turkic gelin ‘bride, new-wed, daughter-in-law’, Medieval Turkic kälin, Ottoman gälin etc. The corresponding forms are marked in the Balkan languages such as Albanian (archaic) gjelinё f. ‘daughter-in-law’; Bulgarian (dialectal) гелѝна f. ‘bride, young wife. The Turkic forms have the verbal stem gel- ‘to come, to arrive’.
If we agree with the Turkic origin of the personal name Călin(a) m. (f.), we should keep in mind the correlation between Oguz g- and Kypchak k- in inlaut. This fact enables us to believe that the most plausible origin of the Romanian form lies in the Kuman language which is a language of Kypchak type.