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
> 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
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
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
referring to the_Getae_ in the area of Prussia or modern Lithuania.
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',
The Ostrogoths (Latinized variously as _ostrogothi_, _autrogothi_ - the
perhaps through mistaken folk etymology linking it with Latin 'auster'
south wind]), and which I've seen anglicized as Ostergoths (surely
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
Several Google searches today revealed that the 'noble Goth' or 'valiant
meaning has quite a following. But I couldn't find anyone quoting the
Germanic word! Is it cognate with English "wise".
Do we have any Germanicists who can enlighten us?