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Again China in Gothic

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  • Baira
    In my opinion the strongest possibility is that the hypothetic Gothic name for China came through contacts with the Goths nomadic neighbours in the Black Sea
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2006
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      In my opinion the strongest possibility is that the hypothetic
      Gothic name for China came through contacts with the Goths' nomadic
      neighbours in the Black Sea steppes, Alans, what was left of
      Sarmatians and so on, nomads who spoke Iranian languages. They did
      not have direct connections with China (excepted the possible case
      of a few individuals who travelled all the way from the Don area to
      China), but the notion was surely there. The name they used for
      China is not known, but we know that their relations with that
      country came either through Iran, that had a great cultural
      influence on the steppe nomads, or through the Sogdian merchants
      (also Iranian), who were the middlemen between China and the west.
      So the ultimate question is the name in Iran (Middle Persian) and in
      Western Central Asia (Sogdian) in the first half of the first
      millennium A.D.

      In Middle Persian the name for China is `Chen' (cfr. `Darchen', the
      China tree/wood = cinnamon, Neo-persian Darchin, Encyclopaedia
      Iranica http://www.iranica.com/ , s.v.) and I presume that in
      Sogdian it was the same, so we can suppose the Goths heard this
      name. But I don't have the slightest idea on how ch- could be
      transmogrified in Gothic. Maybe *Sen? Or *Ken? Or with a
      palatalization *Kjen? And this could have adapted as *Sen- *Ken- or
      *Kjenland

      If we prefer to think of a name borrowed from Greek, easy
      done. `Seres' were the Chinese in Greek (sing. Ser, both with long
      e), so the result could have been *Serland or *Sairland.

      Anyhow I think that an Iranian origin of the hypothetic name is less
      improbable.
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