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Translating Getica (Scythae)

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  • ualarauans
    To find a proper Gothic equivalent of the name of Scythians is a more difficult task than it may seem. Yes, there s an attested word Skwþus translating SKUQHS
    Message 1 of 29 , Oct 3, 2007
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      To find a proper Gothic equivalent of the name of Scythians is a
      more difficult task than it may seem. Yes, there's an attested word
      Skwþus translating SKUQHS "Scythian" in Col. 3:11, but this clearly
      was a newly borrowed name, unheard of before the Bible translation.
      When we are dealing with parts of Getica that apparently go back to
      the lost Gothic epics (such as the story of the migration into Oium,
      for example) and mention "Scythia" and "Scythians", a native Gothic
      term is to be found. In fact, Jordanes recorded several East
      European ethnonyms in the form presumably close to spoken Gothic
      variant: these are e. g. Antes (Go. *Anteis pl.) and Spali (Go.
      *Spalos or *Spalans pl.). Further there is the list of peoples
      conquered by Ermanaric in Getica 116 where the mysterious
      Golthescytha thiudos are mentioned. The most plausible of many
      different interpretations of this name first suggested by von
      Grienberger (1895) and supported by Stender-Petersen (1927) and
      Korkkanen (1975) views it as a Latino-Gothic hybrid Gotth[a]e or
      Gotth[ic]e Scytha-thiudos, that is "Scythian peoples [subjected] to
      the Goth (= Ermanaric)" or "peoples of Scythia in the Gothic
      language". This is followed with eleven heavily distorted names of
      these peoples. The word Scytha-thiudos pl. (cf. Gut-þiuda) seems to
      comprehend the element Skwþa-, but this is most likely a later
      conjecture made by Cassiodorus or Jordanes.

      Currently there are several suggested etymologies of the name of
      Scythians. The one I find most convincing explains Greek SKUQAI as a
      phonetic approximation of OIr. *Skuda- or *Skuða- derived from the
      PIE stem *skeu(d)- "to throw", "to shoot", "to push". Scythians are
      thus "archers" literally (see for details Oswald Szemerenyi's Four
      Old Iranian Ethnic Names:..., 1980:20ff). The Germanic reflex of the
      same stem is PG *skeutan "to shoot", "to cast a missile" >
      ON skjóta, OE scéotan, OHG skiozan, Crimean Gothic schieten etc.
      The attested nomen agentis in the historical languages – ON skyti,
      OE scytta, OHG skuzzo – points towards
      PG *skutjan- M.-an "shooter", "archer" (ibid.), but cf.
      ON andskoti "opponent", "adversary" which < *anda-skutan-, lit.
      "one who shoots back (or against smb.)", without -j- in the suffix.
      Hence we can reconstruct Go. *skiutan st. v. 2 "to shoot"; *skutja
      M.-an "archer" and its variant *skuta M.-an. The last form is the
      closest analogue of the Scythians' ethnonym possible. Semantically
      it's a perfect designation for a people of steppe nomads with
      mounted archers comprising next to 100% of its war power.

      By the time of the Gothic migrations the epoch of the Scythians
      dominating the steppes north of the Black Sea was long over. They
      had been effectively replaced by kindred Iranian-speaking tribes of
      Sarmatians, Alans, Iazyges and others. Their ethnonym must have gone
      away with them, although the Graeco-Roman authors continued to use
      it indiscriminately for all nomadic peoples of the Northeast,
      including the Goths. Thus we are far from being sure of an immediate
      genetic succession between Scythian self-name *Skuða-ta pl. and
      hypothetical Go. *Skutans. If the latter was ever used for Iranian
      (and probably Hunnish as well) neighbors of the Goths, it could well
      have occured independently. Still, for translation purposes I'd
      suggest *Skutans and *Skuta-þiuda (*Skuta-land), not Skwþus and its
      derivatives, whenever it comes to render Scythae and Scythia in the
      passages of Getica taken from the Gothic oral tradition.

      Ualarauans

      P.S. To compare with *Skuta-þiuda is OHG folk
      sceotantero "Schützenvolk" in Hildebrandslied 51.
    • llama_nom
      ... You re right, as usual :-) I ve replaced inu with alja . ... Well, we have got awiliudon , supposing the first element of that is from the same root?
      Message 2 of 29 , Oct 4, 2007
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        --- In gothic-l@yahoogroups.com, "ualarauans" <ualarauans@...> wrote:
        >
        > --- In gothic-l@yahoogroups.com, "llama_nom" <600cell@> wrote:
        > >
        > > [...]
        > > Thanks for all your eagle-eyed observations!
        >
        > Well, since I am obviously commended (arins augo! – I'm flattered
        > and blushing) I feel ready to drop in some more... eh... remarks.
        >
        > /allaim inu hrabna/ "for all but the raven" – probably I fail to see
        > something which is evident allaim inuh (Walha)hrabna, but if it is
        > the preposition inu(h) "without" it should govern accusative. Maybe,
        > allaim alja hrabna with alja "except"? Or niba(i)?


        You're right, as usual :-) I've replaced 'inu' with 'alja'.



        > Awimundus (PN). Thinking of niuja-satiþs (but niu-klahs) I wonder
        > could the name be occasionally spelt *Aujamundus or even *Aumundus?


        Well, we have got 'awiliudon', supposing the first element of that is
        from the same root?


        > /Jah miþ unhulþom arþu nemun/ "And with fiends they dwelt" – iirc
        > Jordanes' point was that the demons were actually male (incubi). Miþ
        > unhulþam (dat. pl. masc.)?


        Changed to 'unhulþam' as you suggest to emphasise that they're male.


        > /fulk unkausiþ jah faurhtjando/ "a force untried and fearful". I'd
        > just like to ask whether fulk unfraisan could be equally possible (I
        > translated inexpertus exercitus as unfraisans harjis in the Attilae
        > alloquium. Maybe I should change it to unkausiþs)?


        I think either would fit the meaning (cf. 2Cor 13:5), but I've changed
        to 'unfraisan' for the sake of the extra gratuitous alliteration.


        > /Hilms gulþahrudans im ana haubiþ ni sat/ "No gilt helm sat upon
        > their heads" – ana haubida (dat. sg.)? Or maybe ana haubidam (pl.)?


        Changed to 'Hilms gulþahrudans / ni sat ana haubida im'. I think
        'haubidam' would be possible, but for singuar, see 'ni indrobnai izwar
        hairto' = hUMWN hE KARDIA (J 14:1); 'iþ hairto ize' = hE de KARDIA
        AUTWN (Mk 7:6) = KJB 'their heart' = Icelandic 'hjarta þeirra'.
        Google turns up lots of examples of Icelandic 'í/á/yfir höfði þeirra',
        and in st. 60 of the Old Norse Sólarljóð, we find:

        Marga menn
        sá ek moldar gengna,
        þá er eigi máttu þjónustu ná;
        heiðnar stjörnur
        stóðu yfir höfði þeim
        fáðar feiknstöfum.

        "I saw many dead men who could not take service [with God]. Heathen
        stars stood over their head[s], painted with evil letters/runes."


        > /Jus þan ... airlos allai gadauþnand/ "Then all ye doughty ones ...
        > shall die" – gadauþniþ (2nd pers. pl.)?


        You're right.


        > /Ga-nu-riqizjadau himins strelom/ "So let the heavens be blotted
        > with the bolts"
        > and
        > /Inreiradau grundus ... hrussam/ "Let the ground quiver ... with
        > [our] steeds" – the attested verbs riqizjan and reiran are
        > intransitive, and I don't know if they could be used with what seems
        > to be dativus auctoris like transitives in mediopassive. Do we have
        > any examples?
        >
        > /Ik þuk nu faigjana wait jah funs haljos/ "I know now that thou art
        > dead already and eager for thy grave" – funsana haljos? Or it's
        > Audika who is eager for Ibra's grave (funs [im] haljos [þeinaizos])?


        I was trying to get across the idea that Audika (indulging in a bit of
        traditional flyting before the battle) is telling Ibra that he (Ibra)
        is fey, i.e. locked into a feverish or trance-like state of mind where
        his every choice seems to bring death closer, as if he's
        subconsciously working towards his own destruction, and so there's no
        helping him, and it shows in the fact that his mind's on ancient
        glories and tales rather than on the practical realities of the
        chahged political situation.

        http://lexicon.ff.cuni.cz/png/oi_cleasbyvigfusson/b0149.png


        > /Sijaidu afhugidai?/ "Are ye bewitched?" – if this aims at the two
        > above, then it should be dual, probably sijaitsu?


        The plural was deliberate. The nameless grey-haired warrior is on the
        side of the Huns and Gothic rebels against Airmanareiks. He's
        addressing the forces loyal to Airmanareiks, currently holed up in
        their fortified settlement (Ibra and his men). I think he's probably
        a certain god (harjonds, from the same root as Herjan) who famously
        turns up at such moments to ensure the battle goes according to his
        inscrutable plans. He goads the defenders into leaving their position
        of strength and coming out to fight in the open against superior
        numbers; he also drops a hint to the attackers clues about how to get
        them out if they refuse (cf. the end of Völsunga saga), although he
        knows they won't. The reference to fire and enchantment was meant to
        be an allusion to the story in Guta saga of the founding of Gotland
        and how the spell that caused the island to sink every day was lifted
        with fire; so he's invoking a memory of the very beginning of Gothic
        history here at what must seem to the participants as something like
        the end.


        > And I'd like to add that I re-read the poem ever again with a non-
        > lessening pleasure. Waila gawaurhtes waurstw þata mikilo, Lama!


        Þagk þus fairhaita, Walhahrabn, jah allaim fairni-liuþarjam þaim
        þizeei *hugisahtins (ideas) ik skandalaus hlaf!
      • llama_nom
        ... This isn t quite the same, but compare the use of dative both in the passive was ... gawasiþs taglam ulbandaus and the active intransitive hve
        Message 3 of 29 , Oct 4, 2007
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          --- In gothic-l@yahoogroups.com, "ualarauans" <ualarauans@...> wrote:
          >
          > /Ga-nu-riqizjadau himins strelom/ "So let the heavens be blotted
          > with the bolts"
          > and
          > /Inreiradau grundus ... hrussam/ "Let the ground quiver ... with
          > [our] steeds" – the attested verbs riqizjan and reiran are
          > intransitive, and I don't know if they could be used with what seems
          > to be dativus auctoris like transitives in mediopassive. Do we have
          > any examples?

          This isn't quite the same, but compare the use of dative both in the
          passive 'was ... gawasiþs taglam ulbandaus' and the active
          intransitive 'hve wasjaima', 'gawasjam sarwam liuhadis', 'ni wasjaiþ
          twaim paidom'. Or 'agisa mikillamma dishaibaida wesun' : 'ohtedun
          agisa mikilamma'. But can we generalise from that to other uses of
          the dative? I'll see if I can find a closer match somewhere. Or
          would a preposition help: miþ, fram, af?
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