In a recent conversation with an aquantance I mentioned the fact that the english word “Slave” is derivative of “Slav” and, by the hyper-sensitive standards of our day, should be avoided or even suppressed in our language. Well, needless to say, said person didn’t believe my etymology was correct. Well, here’s what the Oxford English Dictionary says, so maybe they’ll believe it:
[ad. OF. esclave (also mod.F.), sometimes fem. corresponding to the masc. esclaf, esclas (pl. esclaz, esclauz, esclos, etc.), = Prov. esclau masc., esclava fem., Sp. esclavo, -va, Pg. escravo, -va, It. schiavo, -va, med.L. sclavus, sclava, identical with the racial name Sclavus (see SLAV), the Slavonic population in parts of central Europe having been reduced to a servile condition by conquest; the transferred sense is clearly evidenced in documents of the 9th century.
The form with initial scl- is also represented by older G. schlav(e, sclav(e, G. sklave. In English the reduction of scl- to sl- is normal, and the other Teut. languages show corresponding forms, as WFris. slaef, NFris. slaaw, MDu. slave, slaef (Du. slaaf), MLG. and LG. slave (hence Da. and Norw. slave), older G. slaf(e, Sw. slaf).
The history of the words representing slave and Slav in late Gr., med.L., and G., is very fully traced in Grimm’s Deutsches Wörterbuch s.v. Sklave.]
Song for the DumpedBen Folds FiveWhatever & Ever Amen3:40