Goths, Naming and Ablaut

David L. White dlwhite at
Sat Mar 3 02:41:54 UTC 2001

> Yes, my copy of Wright's (O. L. Sayce, ed., OUP 1954) says that Gothic
> <giutan> is a "class 5" strong verb

        ?!?  It is a class II strong verb.  See section 302, p. 142.

> With regard to OE, you write, "_gutans_ , which would correspond to the OE
> form."  I have for OE, <ge:otan (inf), ge:at (p sing), guton (p plu), goten
> (pp)>.  (And for OHG, <gioz:an>.)  If we have the ablaut set PIE *eu-ou-u

> Gothic iu-au-u, then it is at least possible that the name Goth never took
> the form <Gutan>.

        I do not follow.

> Perhaps it was a name given by other Germanic speakers and therefore had the
> -o- from the start -- e.g., OE, <Gotan> 'Goth', <goten> pp 'poured'.

        Nothing in Germanic has /o/ "from the start".  The distinction
between /o/ and /a/ was lost in the development of early Germanic and was
only recreated with the development of /aa/ from /anx/, if I am remembering
correctly.  /o/ in later past participles is the result of
vowel-harmony--like lowering before a following low vowel.  The OE word is
almost certainly from Latin.

> Once again we have no good reason to be sure Goth was first a
> self-name (cf., "Germans", "Apaches", "Basques").

        I agree.  There are, as I see it, three theoretically possible
sources of the difference between Latin /o/ and Greek /u/.

1)  The Vulgar Latin change of short /u/ to /o/.
2)  A possible Gothic change of /au/ to /o/.
3)  Latin borrowing from other Germanic with /o/, Greek borrowing
from Gothic, with /u/ for other Germanic /o/.

The evidence of attestation may well exclude one or more of these from
serious consideration.

Dr. David L. White

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