It’s time for your weekly Thursday Fun Fact!
The name Groennfell is a play on words: Groenn Fell is Old Norse for “Green Mountain” which is the meaning of “Vermont” in French.
How the state got this name is actually a very interesting story. The naming of the Green Mountains and the subsequent translation to “Vermont” is detailed in this article by Joseph-Andre Senecal. Here is an excerpt:
Based on a review of the available evidence we can advance with some degree of confidence that the word Vermont is indeed a translation of Green Mountains, and that most likely it comes from the fertile mind of Thomas Young, a self-made scholar who probably knew some French. The ultimate question might be why did Young write Vermont rather than Montagues Vertes or Vertsmonts! In other words: Is Vermont good French? The answer is yes. Archaic but excellent French. In the language of France as in English, two words compete to designate mountains: mont and montagne (mount and mountain). The words come from the Latin mons/montis and montanea. In French mont is much older than montagne. . . By the 1700s, mont had clearly lost out to montagne. . . Even in 1777, mont was archaic. However, its use in place naming was well established and carried an aura of antiquity.
Grammatically, the word order (adjective + noun: vert + mont) and the fusion of the adjective and the noun are perfectly correct. In modem French, one would say in a normal enunciation: les monts verts. However the creation of Young is probably not inspired by modern French, even the modern French of 1777. Above all, grammatically speaking, it is not part of a sentence. The word answers the special rules of geographical naming.