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CHAT: Visigoths (was: YADPT (D=Dutch))

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, November 11, 2003, 19:07
On Tuesday, November 11, 2003, at 12:19 AM, Andreas Johansson wrote:


> Hm, the Latin pl seems to be _uisigothae_, which ought to suggest > _uisigotha_ > as sg, oughtn't it? I know, however, that I've seen _gothus_ as a Latin > singular, so I better confess I'm not entirely clear what's going on.
Latin forms of Visigoth are post-Classical. If the plural is _uisigothae_ then the singular is indeed _uisigotha_. The ending might have been influenced by names of other ancient peoples such as the _Celtae_ and _Galatae_ etc. But _uisigothi_ is also found. _gothus_ is certainly attested in the Classical period, though not till a late period. Possibly they were also called _gotho:nes_ or _goto:nes by Tacitus, and Gu:tones by Pliny; though some argue, apparently, that the latter two writers were referring to the_Getae_ in the area of Prussia or modern Lithuania. Who knows? What's going on is simply a difference in Latinizing a non-Latin Ethnicon. There was no "Academia Latina" to decide such things :) ========================================================================= On Tuesday, November 11, 2003, at 02:05 AM, John Cowan wrote:
> Andreas Johansson scripsit: > >> The exact meaning of _visi-_ seems to be unknown - several sources says >> it may mean "noble", which sounds like a self-chosen designation. No >> indication what language it may be from, which I guess suggests it is >> indeed Gothic. > > The traditional interpretation of "Visigoth" and "Ostrogoth" are that they > mean West Goth and East Goth respectively, which certainly fits the facts. > Has there been some reason to reject this?
Well, yes. uisi- doesn't really fit well with Germanic words for 'west', 'western' etc. The Ostrogoths (Latinized variously as _ostrogothi_, _autrogothi_ - the letter perhaps through mistaken folk etymology linking it with Latin 'auster' [south, south wind]), and which I've seen anglicized as Ostergoths (surely 'Eastergoths' would be better) are almost certainly the eastern Goths. But when I first encountered 'Visigoth' in my teens I was puzzled how the Romans could possibly have mangled a Germanic *westr- to _uisi_. One would surely have expected the Latin to be have been *uestrogothi (or even, with folk etymology, the odd occurrence of *uesprogothi/ *uesprigothi) - we find no such thing. My dictionary hedges it bets and says: "Late latin _Visigothi_ - Gmc. word meaning perh. noble Goths, perh. west Goths" Several Google searches today revealed that the 'noble Goth' or 'valiant Goth' meaning has quite a following. But I couldn't find anyone quoting the actual Germanic word! Is it cognate with English "wise". Do we have any Germanicists who can enlighten us? Ray =============================================== (home) (work) ===============================================


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>