Hi all...what an interesting thread! I'm an off duty professor who loves words and being African American yet finding Balkan in my DNA I had done a bit of online research on the word 'slav' and the Balkans, which I'll share here to contribute to this lively conversation.
The word "slave" has the etymological root "Slav" because Slavs were often enslaved. "Slavic" refers to a lot of people, including Caucasian, Slovak (Czechoslovakian), Slovene (Slovenia & parts of Austria & Italy), Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, and Russian.
Whites were enslaved around the world -- especially the Slavs, from whom the word is derived in both European languages and in Arabic.
Origin of the Word "Slav"
The actual origin of the term "Slav" can be readily determined in accordance with the way in which it was historically used by the Slavic peoples.
At the outset, the Latin (not Greek) word for "slave" was spelled quite differently from its anglicized derivative. Western words such as these in Latin would not have been used by the Slavs in the East in their earliest history. Far from being slaves to anyone, the early history of Rus' demonstrates that the Slavs were not only war-like and independent-minded, but they actually made war several times against the Roman Empire at its later capital city of Byzantium. There are several Greek Church commemorations of Byzantium being saved through Divine intervention from the onslaught of the Slavic armies.
"Slava" means "glory." In actual fact, this term has nothing to do with any other country's assessment of Slavic culture and traditions, but with the spirit of Slavic values.
The glory that is talked about here is not about the egotism of achieving personal glory through heroic acts so that everyone else may acclaim it.
To achieve "Glory" has meant, to the Slavs in history, an heroic self-sacrifice of individuals and groups on behalf of the interests of their wider community and nation. To give one's life for the preservation or in defense of one's nation is to have truly achieved "Glory." This meaning is also wonderfully captured in the phrase coined by Metropolitan Ilarion Ohienko, "To serve one's people is to serve God." Dr. Alexander Roman
The Balkans is an area of southeastern Europe situated at a major crossroads between mainland Europe and the Near East. The distinct identity and fragmentation of the Balkans owes much to its common and often violent history and to its very mountainous geography. Romania, Bulgaria, northeastern Greece, European Turkey, eastern Serbia and Republic of Macedonia). The Croats and the Serbs arrived between 610 and 641. The Serbs and Croats were slavic tribes, yet some linguists theorise that the names "Croat" and "Serb" are not of Slavic origin, but rather derive from a common, ancient Iranian root. Similar names have been documented by ancient Roman historians along the path of migration of the Sarmatians- ie the names 'Serboi' and 'Choroutos' (see earlier).