"Gothi" (timeline)

X99Lynx at aol.com X99Lynx at aol.com
Sun Mar 11 08:09:36 UTC 2001

In a message dated 3/8/2001 2:22:24 AM, hwhatting at hotmail.com writes:
<< Another point - it seems that the variant with the n-stem
("gu/oton-")belongs to the older sources, when the Goths were just a faraway
tribe, known only from indirect (other Gmc?) sources. Later, when the contact
becomes close (and violent), we find the stem "guta- / gauta-" > "Gothi". So
maybe this indicates that "Goth" (in the form "guta- / gauta-") was a
self-name, and "gu/oton-" was the form used by other Gmc. tribes?>>

With regard to the n-stem ending attached to a proper name: it is not a
unique thing among the Greeks and to some degree the Romans, even where we
may have non-IE speakers being named - e.g., Sidones, Vascones, Nasamones.
Perhaps these endings, which were applied to peoples (or just gatherings or
groups, see e.g. <Amphictyones, antichthones>) across Greece, Gaul, Germania
and Scythia, were always based on a true n-stem root rather than a
convention.  But it is clear that there are often versions where the use of
the ending is dropped (e.g., Gothones, Gothi, Gothini).

And it may be worth noting the names of Ptolemy's <Gutae> or the later
<Gautoi> in Scandinavia don't show the ending.  This would seem to be the
reverse of what you suggested above, since the Scandinavians were always at a

I've suggested elsewhere that truly early word of the name of the Goths may
have had to pass through speakers that were not Germanic, just as the names
of other peoples far from the Greeks may have.  But the early Greeks were
exceptionally good at getting around, so direct contact is not out of the
guestion.  In fact, Tacitus, Pliny, etc., retell accounts of Greeks among the
northern Germani and of course there is even evidence of Mycenaean trade in
Denmark, etc.

What would the Gothic name have sounded like to Greeks?  Once again, we don't
have any clear-cut record of the what the early Goths called themselves.  We
have variation in the Greek.  But perhaps we can reconstruct something
backwards from Greek borrowings into Gothic.  (This is from our old friend
Sean Crist's copy of Wright's on the web, where the Browser finder made
searching for Greek refs easier.)  These are cases where a Greek source was
attributed for a word in Gothic, where the Greek contained an <o>:

Gr. <apostolos > Gothic <apau:lstau:lus, apau:lstulus> (strong masc),  apostle

Gr. <diabolos> > Gothic <diabau:lus, diabulus> (strong masc) devil (Wright:
through Lat. diabolus) (OE. de:ofol, OHG. tiufal)

Gr. <korban> > Gothic <kau:rba:n> gift (Greek from the Hebrew)

Gr. <porphura> > Gothic <pau:rpura> purple

Gr. <prophe:te:s>  > Gothic <prau:fe:tus, prau:fe:te:s> (strong masc) prophet

Note that Greek <o> appears to be consistently transliterated as <au:> except
in <diabulus> and <apaulstulus> where <u> alternatively appears.

Does this mean that if the word <got-> was heard in Greek, it would have been
written by Ulfila as <gau:t->?

hwhatting at hotmail.com also writes:
<< (3) They are adopted by another group for various reasons (as the Byzantine
Greeks used to refer to themselves as "Rhomaioi = Romans"; >>

But here I must note that <Rum> will appear soon after and become the name of
these places in everything from Turkish to Persian to Romanian and Russian.
The spelling is attributed to early Arabic in reference to the eastern Empire
and extends to the name of the Balkan provinces of the Ottoman empire. But
this version <Rum> persisted not only into later Greek but also into the
Romance language that was first called "Rumanian" for that very reason.

In fact, without background, how would we account for an Arabic kingdom in
Asia Minor calling itself "Rum"?  Or, without background, how would we
explain the o/u in Romanian/Rumanian?  And should we think that the basis of
<gotthi/gouthth/gotones/geat/getan/gutae/*gaut-> would be any simplier?

Steve Long

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