Schüss und Susch – zwei keltische Segusia-Namen?



  • Luzius Thöny Universität Bern



This article discusses the etymology of two Swiss toponyms which share a similar etymology. (1) The Schüss (French La Suze) is a river in the Bernese Jura region of Switzerland. It is attested as Sushe in 1281 and perhaps even earlier as Secusiam in the Himerius-Vita from the 8th/9th c. In previous scholarship, the name of this river has been explained from Celt.*Segusiā, a derivation from the well-known base Celt. *sego-, ultimately from the root PIE *seǵh- ‘overcome, overpower’. A number of similar river names (and other
toponyms) such as La Suze < Secusia 1178, La Suize < Secucie ca. 1123 exist in France. (2) The village Susch, German (older) Süs, lies in the Canton of Grisons. Its name is first attested as Susis in 1161 and has similarly been explained from Celt. *Segusiā in previous scholarship. The morphological structure of the name is not clear. It seems likely that the form is a derivation with a complex suffix Celt. *-usiā- < PIE *-usieh-, cf. the name Celt. Bergusia (both a place name and a name of a deity). The naming of various objects (rivers, settlements, a mountain etc.) with the same name is perhaps most easily explained if we assume that *Segusiā was originally the name of a Celtic goddess (as already suggested by Hubschmied in 1938 for the Swiss river), although no decisive proof of such a goddess has been found so far.