Was the word "kunig/kunigas/kunigur" a gothic word?
I'm a French and specialist of toponomy for Northern Catalonia
(Gothaland??) a region where Visigoths lived between 414 and the
I am writing to you in order to verify a personal assumption about
the name "Canigo" of one of the summit in this country.
This name could have been given by Goths as "Kunighauh" .
But what could be the exact meaning ?
I read all the messages about the words for "king" in gothic
language, and I know that there is no evidence that Goths borrowed a
word like "kunig" or something else similar, with the meaning
But we know that such word existed, around the Ost-Baltic sea,
spoken by Visigoth's ancestors. At that time the meaning could
be "noble" and Visigoths could have borrowed the word with the same
meaning, or the meaning of "prinz", despite their usage of the
words "reiks" or " thiodans" for their proper kings.
The word "kunego" = prinz in old slavonic is compatible with my
I precise that this remarkable mountain Canigo -- we can see it from
the sea side the main summit (around 2800m) like the Fujijama
inJapan-- was not mentioned by antics authors travelling there.
Despite 5 centuries with the grecian city of Emporion near it, and 5
centuries of government by Romans!
So its name seems to be done between 400 (start of the lack of
authors writing about something with no relation with the Bible) and
875 (first occurrence of the name "Canigo" in a document).
In consequence this name is necessarily from Visigoths or Franks.
But I can explain why this name was not created by Franks coming
And I can tell you that a name meaning "Noble Mount " is
particularly adapted to its magnificence. The highness of the Canigo
could have inspired this adjective to the Goths.
If you tell me that this assumption is false, I have an other
The proto-germanic ancestor of the OHG word "kunig"or "kunning"
(and all the similar words meaning "king" in various countries)
could have been a concatenation between "kuni"= "family or people"
and "gur" = "en haut". I think at the corresponding word "kunigur"
in the isolated Iceland.
In that case the etymological meaning of an hypothetical gothic
word "kunig" (or "kunigo" or "kunigas") could be "somebody being
over the members of his family, or tribu or clan" as a king is.
In this case it could have been used for a personified summit over
the other summits in the same set of mountains, to tell everybody
that is the highest mountain.
NB. An other origine for "kuning/kunigas/kunigur" could
be "Khan+i+goh" = higher lord.
considering that "khan" was the word for "lord" somewhere in central
If these two assumptions are false, I must admit that some indo-
european around 1500-800BC gave the name "khanigo" as a
concatenation of "Khan + i +go" = higher summit (hier "Khan"
means "summit" (preindoeuropean meaning ), even if no antic author
mentioned this remarkable mountain.
What do you thing of this ?
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Francisc Czobor" <fericzobor@...>
> Hi, Michael and Urba,
> I apologize, it occured to me twice to push by error the "Send"
> button before the message was ready...
> What I write bellow is commonly accepted by linguists, and will
> the examples from two sources:(http://www.koeblergerhard.de/germanistischewoerterbuecher/gotischesw
> - Koebler
> erterbuch/GOT-K.pdf), and(http://www.etymonline.com/index.php),
> - Online Etymology Dictionary
> both these sources reflecting the commonly accepted viewpoints.with
> The Gothic word _kuni_ "clan, tribe, race, generation" is cognate
> other Germanic words like Old High German _chunni_, Old Norse_kyn_,
> Old English _cyn_ > Modern English _kin_, the reconstructed Proto-to
> Germanic (PG) form being *kunja-n, which comes from the Proto-Indo-
> European (PIE) root *g'en- (g' = palatal g) "to produce, to beget,
> be born", with the variants g'en@, g'ne:-, g'no:- etc. From thesame
> PIE root (and with the same Germanic sound shift, g' > k) are alsoNorse
> Germanic words derived otherwise, like Old English _ge-cynd_ >
> English _kind_, _cynn_ "family", _cennan_ "beget, create", Old
> kundr "son", German _Kind_ "child", and the suffixes Gothic -kunds,
> Old High German -kund.are:
> Outside Germanic, other Indo-European examples from the same root
> - Latin: genus "race, stock, kind", gi-gne-re "to beget", gna-sci "to
> be born", gens (Genitive: gentis) "race, clan", etc.gne-
> - Old Irish: ro-genar "I was born"
> - Welsh: geni "to be born"
> - Greek: genos "race, kind", gonos "birth, offspring, stock", gi-
> sthai "to become, happen"is
> - Lithuanian: gentis "kinsmen"
> - Sanskrit: janati "begets, bears", janah "race", jatah (from PIE
> *g'n-to-) "born"
> - Avestan: zi-zan-enti "they bear"
> Regarding the derivatin of "king" from "kin", I thing that there
> no doubt that this is the case, with the remark that thederivation
> happened not in Modern English, but in PG: *kuni-(an) + *-ingaz =in
> I don't know what connection could be between Gothic _kuni_ and
> Lithuanian _kunas_ "body". In any case, the Gothic word for sure
> doesn't come from Lithuanian: it is a common Germanic word coming
> from PIE *g'en-, and the shift g' > k occured in Germanic, but not
> Baltic; in Lithuanian g' > "z^" ([zh], French "j") or sometimes >g,
> like in the above example _gentis_, or in _gyvas_ "alive". Thus,kuni
> and kunas are not even cognates at the Indo-European level.mawi
> Only two alternatives remain:
> 1. chance resemblance, no connection;
> 2. Goth. kuni > Lith. kunas, but the meaning shift "clan, tribe"
> > "body" doesn't look very plausible.
> --- In email@example.com, "urba_kestutis" <urba_kestutis@>
> > --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Michael Erwin <merwin@> wrote:
> > >
> > > I still think 'king' comes from 'kin' or for the Gothic.
> > >
> > > Of course one C-Gmc root can yield two Gothic words, as with
> > andmight
> > > magatha, (or two English words, as with churn and quern, shirt
> > and
> > > skirt, ship and skiff, etc.) so that kindins and *kunig--
> > comeword-
> > > from the same root. IIRC, mawi and magatha reflect changing
> > > formation patterns within C-Gmc and Gothic, while shirt andrelated
> > > reflect internal borrowing among Germanic languages.
> > >
> > In lithuanian (neighbors of goths) there is the word kunas
> > (pronounciatin is like eng. koonus) with a meaning BODY and
> > language has the simmilarity. So, Gothic 'kuni' is possibly
> > to lithuanian kunas, because 'kuni' has the meaning from thesame
> > body, too but in prussian there is no koonas but kermenis. Howto
> > explain this puzzle?Thanks Francis for very impressive linguistic information - was this
one Yours or based on some article -I can't find it for example at
Pokorny database. I've had the idea about 'kunig' origin
like 'kuni'+'ing' too, but tried to guess on historical bases and
used the idea about Greek hunter, but now I suppose that Your
explanation gave more strong base. But lots of questions still are
unclear. At historicall level it is possible now to discuss such
idea - 5000-3000 BC with agriculture (ide) spreading 'kuni' reached
German and Gothic lands, where later it was transformed
into 'kunig'. Possibly, 200-400 AD during Gothic invasion into
Europe the new style of ruling appeared together with King idea in
Baltic, Slavic and the other lands. But why in Rome there appeared
the rex but not king (rex is more millitar than king - I guess)? On
the other hand, the Greek cultural linguistic influence was much
more stronger than Gothic invasion into Europa and Greek hunter
could give some influencies too. All these questions must be
considered Nostratic ideas too, supposing 'kn' and 'kng' to be
backbone, letting wovels to change someway. This gives the great
PUZZLE about the origin and chronology of dog - canis - hunter,
animal and man body - 'kunas' (lithuanian), 'kiaune' (lith) -marten;
tribe 'kuni' - hunting together or/and born from the same body; the
ruler of the tribe who was the best hunter for some time - Kunig-
king... So, if we want to obtain clear understanding about
Gothic 'kunig' origin we must solve this semantic linguistic
historical problem. Chronological problems are most complicated and
some changes could reach and appear at glacial or even preglacial