"Gothi" (timeline)

Hans-Werner Hatting hwhatting at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 15 07:22:09 UTC 2001

On Sun, 11 Mar 2001 03:09:36 EST Steve Long wrote:

>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 distance.

The possibility that _-ones_ was not based on anything in the original name,
but an addition by Greeks and Romans, did not occur to me - thanks for that

We would then only have ablaut variants, not stem variants.

>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.

Just a suggestion - maybe I am wrong:

I think people who go to places abroad will be interested in finding out the
names of people they are visiting, especially if they want to trade with
them, so most probably they will ask those people, or their neighbours. And
if they give them a name themselves, it will be propbably easily
etymologisable. On the other hand, if suddenly other people turn up on your
door step, it is much more likely that you name them yourself, or take a
name for them from your own neighbours, or mix them up with other people
having some similarity with them - be it cultural, some outward traits, or
geopgraphical situation.

So if the Greeks had commercial contacts to the Goths before, it is (by this
chain of reasoning)less likely that _Goth_ is a name given to them by the
Greeks, and more likely that it is theri own name, or a name given to them
by earlier neighbours.

>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),

>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)

>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->?

>From this, it seems that Ulfila wrote _au_ for Greek /o/ when it was
accented or came before the accented syllable, and /u/ otherwise. This could
also support the idea that Gothic _au_ was really pronounced /o/.
But what to make of the Greek forms with _y_ and _ou_, which seem to point
to a Greek pronounciation /gut-/, not /got-/? If I haven't missed something,
/o/ seems to be attested only in the Latin sources.

>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"?

A minor squibble - if you are talking about the Rum Seljuk empire, they were

>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

It may be as complicated. But shouldn't we look for the simpler solution? We
can doubt some pillars which it is based on, but we should drop it only if
we find that it is counter to fact, or that we have other facts supporting
another theory.

Best regards,
Hans-Werner Hatting

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