The death of Gainas in 401 stirred Alaric to break the recent treaty and to move from the land granted to the Goths in Macedonia and strike at Italy itself. Alaric eventually attacked Milan, but Roman forces under the command of Stilicho arrived in March 402 and forced him to abandon the attack. Alaric's forces retreated along the northern bank of the river Po, then crossed the river and turned south. They attacked the city Hasta-Asti, but failed to take it; they then retreated upstream to Pollentia-Pollenzo.
Stilicho's forces pursued; among them were Alanic troops under the command of Saul. On Easter Sunday of 402, Stilicho handed over command to the pagan Saul, who proceeded to lead an unexpected attack against Alaric's forces. Alaric was caught off guard, and his infantry suffered heavy losses. He nevertheless managed to save his cavalry, and with them he counterattacked, pushing back the Alans and killing Saul. The Goths then withdrew into the mountains. Evidently a treaty was struck between Stilicho and Alaric.
The Gothic forces left Italy south of the river Po and headed to Verona where they stopped. Sometime later, Stilicho and the Alans attacked again, and the Goths again withdrew into the mountains. Their points of escape were blocked; they were seized by hunger and disease, and large groups of Alaric's forces began to desert. Two Gothic leaders, Ulfilas and Sarus, joined the Romans. The remaining Goths departed Italian territory and continued to ravage the countryside of Illyricum.
Alaric's forces remained relatively confined in Illyricum until the Alans, Vandals, and Suevi together crossed the Rhine into Gaul. Starting in 408, the Eastern and Western empires began a period of reconciliation, which obviated the tactical usefulness of Alaric's treaty with Constantinople. He therefore led his troops to Emona-Laibach in the Julian Alps, and then occupied surrounding areas. Shortly thereafter, Alaric threatened to invade Italy if he did not receive four thousand pounds of gold -- roughly the annual income of a Roman senator, but also an amount on which about 90,000 people could live decently, yielding a possible estimate of the size of Alaric's forces.
Stilicho persuaded Rome to pay the sum, and Alaric was taken into Roman service. He commanded combined Roman and Gothic troops which he led into Gaul against the usurper Constantine. The previously agreed sum of money probably never reached Alaric, since Stilicho was quickly overthrown. In the ensuing instability, a large number of barbarians joined Alaric's forces. Sarus remained with the Romans to take Stilicho's place, having his Hunnic bodyguard killed to secure his position.
Alaric tried to negotiate new terms with the emperor Honorius, but was rejected and therefore quickly moved into Italy. By October of 408 they surrounded Rome and cut off all her supplies. In their desperation, the Romans handed over to Alaric five thousand pounds of gold, thirty thousand pounds of silver, four thousand silk robes, three thousand purple-dyed furs, and three thousand pounds of pepper. In addition Alaric demanded that an embassy be sent to obtain a peace treaty from Honorius, but this never amounted to anything. At the end of 408 Alaric set up camp in Tuscany.
As a result of the economic straits imposed by the Goths' plundering of Rome, their spoils were devalued. This, combined with their subsequent pillaging of those areas which supplied their food, forced Alaric to seek a permanent home for his people. He began negotiations in early 409 with Honorius, but the emperor would not listen, and subsequently marched out with his own forces, accompanied by an auxiliary of Dalmatian troops, to attack Alaric. At this point Alaric was joined by his brother-in-law Athaulf, who led a contingent of combined Gothic and Hunnic cavalry. Alaric managed to defeat the emperor's Dalmatian troops, and again struck up negotiations, demanding Noricum and Venetia.
When that and a second series of negotiations broke down, Alaric again marched on Rome in late 409. The city again capitulated, and Alaric convinced the senate to declare Attalus emperor. Attalus appointed Alaric chief commander of the military, and Athaulf commander of the cavalry, but appointed an anti-Gothic partisan as the senatorial representative. Attalus was baptized by the Arian bishop Sigesar.
At this point it was in Roman, and Gothic, tactical interests to conquer Africa, which was the primary source of Roman grain. Attalus determined to take the region, but failed to accept Gothic assistance, and so the attack failed. Eventually Alaric had Attalus stripped of his office.
Alaric once again renewed negotiations with Honorius, meeting him in person in a small town in the Alps. At the same time, however, Sarus attacked Alaric's forces, and the result was that Honorius again broke off the talks. Alaric and his forces decided to move against Rome once more. They captured the city and continued to plunder it for the next three days. Athaulf captured the emperor's sister, Galla Placidia.
The Goths left as swiftly as they came, and proceeded to march south through Italy. They eventually tried to get to Sicily, but had to abort the attempt by reason of the weather and lack of ships. They eventually retraced their steps and headed north for Campania. There they set up a camp, but Alaric finally died in Bruttium before the year 410 drew to a close.
Athaulf became Gothic king after Alaric. In 411, through the mediation of Attalus, Athaulf struck an accord with Iovinus, the Gallic leader of a Burgundian-Alanic coalition who had recently taken over imperial authority. Sarus too joined the forces of Iovinus. Iovinus tried to consolidate his power on the Italian peninsula, but Athaulf unexpectedly led his forces out of Italy and destroyed Sarus's forces in the process. When Iovinus failed to make Athaulf coemperor, the latter broke his ties with Iovinus and began negotiations with representatives of Honorius, who promised to settle the Goths in Gaul. They reached an agreement sometime in 413.
Iovinus was subsequently captured by the Goths in Valence. In keeping with history, however, Honorius again broke his agreement with the Goths on the pretext that Galla Placidia would first have to be released. Angered once again, the Goths proceeded to ravage Gaul. They capured Narbonne and Toulouse, but failed in an attempt to take Marseille, where Athaulf was wounded.
In January 414, Athaulf married Galla Placidia in Narbonne. The wedding was conducted in Roman fashion. Athaulf seemed ready to cease his wars against Rome and make peace. He relocated to Barcelona, where before long his wife gave birth to a son, baptized with the name Theodosius. Unfortunately the child died shortly thereafter, in 415. Athaulf himself was assassinated in August or September of the same year. He was killed by one of the men in his entourage, by the name of Dubius or Eberwolf, while he and his company were inspecting their horses.
Sarus's brother Sigeric became king, but this lasted only a week. During this short period, he had Athaulf's children by his first wife killed, and humiliated Galla Placidia. In September 415 the Goths chose Valia as their king and resolved to contiue the war against Rome. Again in search of food stores, they marched into the Iberian peninsula intent on crossing into Africa. When they realized they could not cross the Straits of Gibraltar, they abandoned the plan and ultimately, in the spring of 416, Valia surrendered to Constantius, the military commander of the Western imperial forces. Constantius provided supplies for roughly fifteen thousand troops and their retinue, while the Goths turned over Galla Placidia. The Goths then set themselves to expelling imperial enemies from the Spanish peninsula, first turning against the Vandals, then against the Alans, who subsequently formed their own alliance. In 418 Constantius ordered the Goths to desist and called them to Gaul. The Goths were ordered to the valley of the Goronne between Toulouse and Bordeaux.
Valia died in 418 and was succeeded by Theodoric. This marked the beginning of a new period of Gothic power. So ended a biblical 40 years of wandering without a homeland, the result of events set in motion by the advent of the Huns. The Goths were finally in a position to construct an empire of their own: Theodoric's dynasty would go unbroken until 507, and the Goths were secured as a force with which neighboring empires would need to negotiate, recognizing the leadership of the Gothic king and sending hostages to his court. So rose the Visigothic tribe to power.
The following passage is 1 Corinthians 13:1-12. Much of the first verse has not survived. In I Corinthians 13.2 we find praúfētjans 'prophecy' The nominative form of this word is generally the neuter plural praúfētja (see verse 13.8). Although deriving ultimately from the Greek prophēteía, the fact that the accented vowel in Greek is merely a glide in Gothic shows that the word is most likely borrowed from the Latin prophētia.
In I Corinthians 13.4 we find the phrase friaþwa usbeisneiga ist, sels ist 'charity is patient, is kind'. Note here the change in gender between usbeisneiga (fem. nom. sg.) and sēls (masc. nom. sg.). In Gothic, nouns grammatically feminine are occasionally treated as masculines, or as neuters when denoting things.
Verse 13.7 contains an interesting display of repetition: allata þuláiþ, allata galáubeiþ, all wēneiþ, alla gabeidiþ 'bears everything, believes everything, hopes everything, endures all things'. Note the alternation between adjectival (zero) and pronominal (-ata) endings in the neuter plural. The Greek uses the same form, pánta, in each phrase.
In 1 Corinthians 13.12 we find a somewhat idiomatic phrase: in frisahtái, literally 'in an image'. Evidently by extension this meant 'in an ephemeral view, in a mere reflection', leading to the sense 'darkly, unclearly, imperfectly'.
13:1 - .... aiþþau klismo klismjandei.
2 - jah jabai habau praufetjans jah witjau allaize runos jah all kunþi jah habau alla galaubein, swaswe fairgunja miþsatjau, iþ friaþwa ni habau, ni waihts im.
3 - jah jabai fraatjau allos aihtins meinos, jah jabai atgibau leik mein ei gabrannjaidau, iþ friaþwa ni habau, ni waiht botos mis taujau.
4 - friaþwa usbeisneiga ist, sels ist: friaþwa ni aljanoþ; friaþwa ni flauteiþ, ni ufblesada,
5 - ni aiwiskoþ, ni sokeiþ sein ain, ni ingramjada, nih mitoþ ubil,
6 - nih faginoþ inwindiþai, miþfaginoþ sunjai;
7 - allata þulaiþ, allata galaubeiþ, all weneiþ, alla gabeidiþ.
8 - friaþwa aiw ni gadriusiþ, iþ jaþþe praufetja gatairanda jaþþe razdos gaƕeiland jaþþe kunþi gataurniþ.
9 - suman kunnum jah suman praufetjam.
10 - biþe qimiþ þatei ustauhan ist, gataurniþ þatei us dailai ist.
11 - iþ þan was niuklahs, swe niuklahs rodida, swe niuklahs froþ, swe niuklahs mitoda; biþe warþ wair, barniskeins aflagida.
12 - saiƕam nu þairh skuggwan in frisahtai, iþ þan andwairþi wiþra andwairþi; nu wait us dailai, iþ þan ufkunna ...
13:1 .... aiþþau klismo klismjandei. 2 jah jabai habau praufetjans jah witjau allaize runos jah all kunþi jah habau alla galaubein, swaswe fairgunja miþsatjau, iþ friaþwa ni habau, ni waihts im. 3 jah jabai fraatjau allos aihtins meinos, jah jabai atgibau leik mein ei gabrannjaidau, iþ friaþwa ni habau, ni waiht botos mis taujau.
4 friaþwa usbeisneiga ist, sels ist: friaþwa ni aljanoþ; friaþwa ni flauteiþ, ni ufblesada, 5 ni aiwiskoþ, ni sokeiþ sein ain, ni ingramjada, nih mitoþ ubil, 6 nih faginoþ inwindiþai, miþfaginoþ sunjai; 7 allata þulaiþ, allata galaubeiþ, all weneiþ, alla gabeidiþ.
8 friaþwa aiw ni gadriusiþ, iþ jaþþe praufetja gatairanda jaþþe razdos gaƕeiland jaþþe kunþi gataurniþ. 9 suman kunnum jah suman praufetjam. 10 biþe qimiþ þatei ustauhan ist, gataurniþ þatei us dailai ist. 11 iþ þan was niuklahs, swe niuklahs rodida, swe niuklahs froþ, swe niuklahs mitoda; biþe warþ wair, barniskeins aflagida. 12 saiƕam nu þairh skuggwan in frisahtai, iþ þan andwairþi wiþra andwairþi; nu wait us dailai, iþ þan ufkunna ...
From the King James version:
13:1 (Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass,) or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know ...
Crimean Gothic (CG) is the name given to the language thought to be the dying throes of the East Germanic branch of languages. All that remains of this language is some hundred words copied in a letter of the diplomat Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq. The words so transmitted are similar enough to those of the Biblical Gothic (BG) of Wulfila's translation that scholars are in general agreement that the language in question is indeed Gothic, but there are some differences which suggest it may not be the later surviving form of BG itself. It may have formed a separate member of the East Germanic family, perhaps representing the language of another of the many Gothic tribal factions, but one whose literary records have not survived to the present day.
Busbecq himself was a highly educated man of Flanders, born in 1522 in the town of Comines (Komen). His father was a nobleman and secured for him an excellent education. He began at the University of Louvain in Brabant when he became thirteen, and then continued his education in Paris, Venice, Bologna, and Padua.
Busbecq eventually accepted an appointment in 1554 as an ambassador of Ferdinand I of Austria, who was later to become Holy Roman Emperor (1558-1564). In this appointment, Busbecq was charged with negotiating a peace treaty with the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I, 'the Magnificent'. In early 1555 Busbecq travelled to the Ottoman empire, and returned to Vienna that summer to deliver a letter from Suleiman I to Charles V, then Holy Roman Emperor. He subsequently returned to Constantinople in 1556 and remained in the region for the next seven years as Ferdinand I succeeded to the throne of the Holy Roman empire. He eventually negotiated a treaty with the Ottoman empire and returned to Vienna in 1562, then continuing to Frankfurt to present the treaty to Ferdinand.
Busbecq was subsequently knighted and continued to serve the imperial family in various political roles. In late 1592, then working in France, Busbecq took some time away from his service to visit his homeland. As he travelled through Normandy, he was seized by a group of soldiers, but set free the next day. Unfortunately, he quickly took ill and died on the 28th of October, 1592.
Busbecq had the reputation of being a man of many languages. Some biographers claim he had a native command of Flemish, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, German, and 'Slavic'. What is meant by the last is not exactly clear. Flemish was of course his native tongue, and his education evidently provided for a firm grasp of Latin, as the letter shows. He spent time at universities in Italy, where he was likely to have developed a command of Italian; and it is certain from surviving letters in French that he had a command of that language as well. Early in his career he was attaché to Ferdinand's representative Pedro de Castilla, so it is likely that he acquired some proficiency in Spanish. We also know that, while in Turkey, Busbecq had a habit of copying Greek and Latin inscriptions. It is therefore likely that he was acquainted with Classical Greek, though evidently not with Modern Greek. He also explains some Turkish words in his letters, so he may have had an acquaintance with this language as well. It is also quite possible that he had learned German while in service in Vienna.
Sometime during his second and longer stay in Constantinople, Busbecq had occasion to meet with two envoys from the Crimea. One was evidently a native speaker of a Germanic language of the region, the other a native Greek speaker who had learned the Germanic language in question. From what Busbecq says, it appears that the Germanic speaker had lost much of his ability with his native tongue due to constant interaction with Greek speakers, and the Greek speaker evidently turned out to be the more competent in the Germanic language. From the letter it is unfortunately unclear as to which one of the gentlemen actually supplied the linguistic data. Most scholars are of the opinion that it was the native Greek speaker, a source of much consternation to present-day linguists because of the fact that his native tongue presumably interfered with his ability in the Germanic language. Neither is it clear what medium was employed in the interview: whether Busbecq interrogated the gentlemen directly (what language would he use for this?), or by means of interpreters (presumably via Greek). The letter raises as many questions as it answers.
Busbecq was certainly no newcomer to linguistic pursuits, and his letter clearly shows that he had an interest in investigating rare linguistic gems should occasion arise. Some of the modern scholarly literature has faulted Busbecq for his poor habits as a 'linguistic fieldworker', failing to employ a phonetically accurate orthography, failing to be consistent in orthographic practice, failing to identify the recorded forms clearly, failing to note the circumstances and method of his linguistic interview -- the list continues. But this should not be a surprise, since the data was collected sometime between 1555 and 1562, centuries before the advent of modern linguistic practices. For a man who was actually employed to negotiate a peace treaty between empires, we are lucky that he took the time he did to produce what may be the last surviving record of the East Germanic family of languages.
The totality of primary texts concerning Crimean Gothic occupies roughly four manuscript pages. Of these, the bulk of the linguistic data proper occupies two pairs of columns, each column containing a word or, rarely, phrase of Crimean Gothic followed immediately by a Latin translation. There also appears a three-line song, or cantilena given space of its own, but which lacks the Latin gloss one would have hoped for. There are a few other words of Crimean Gothic set within the Latin text itself.
The entire corpus is short enough that it is worth reproducing here in full. Below, where there is continuous Latin text, this is placed to the left of its English translation. Where there are columns of Crimean Gothic with accompanying Latin, these have been set in three columns, the first Crimean Gothic, the next Latin, and finally an English translation of the Latin. The cantilena has no accompanying Latin translation, and so there is no English translation. The English translation is intended to be close to the Latin, word for word if possible, while at the same time making decent sense. No attempt is made at polished English prose.
|Latin Text||English Text|
|Non possum hoc loco praeterire, quae de gente accepi, quae etiamnum incolit Tauricam Chersonesum, quam saepe audiveram sermone, moribus, ore denique ipso et corporis habitu, originem Germanicam referre.||I cannot pass over what I have learned about a race which still inhabits the Crimea, which I had often heard to resemble a Germanic origin in speech, customs, in features even and in bodily appearance.|
|Itaque me diu cupiditas tenuit videndi ab ea gente aliquem, et si fieri posset inde eruendi aliquid quod ea lingua scriptum esset, sed hoc consequi non potui. Casus tamen utcunque desiderio meo satisfecit.||For a while now the desire has held me of seeing someone from this race, and if it be possible to bring about, of eliciting from this one something which is written in that language, but this I was unable to achieve. Nevertheless happenstance eventually fulfilled my desire.|
|Cum essent duo huc illinc delegati, qui nescio quas querelas nomine eius gentis ad principem deferrent, meique interpretes in eos incidissent, memores quid eis mandassem si id usu veniret, ad prandium illos ad me adduxerunt.||Since there were here two delegates from that place, who were conducting I know not what business in the name of that race, and as my interpreters had chanced upon them, mindful of what I had charged them if such should come about, they therefore led them to me for a lunch.|
|Alter erat procerior, toto ore ingenuam quandam simplicitatem praeferens, ut Flander videretur aut Batavus:||One of them was taller, displaying in his overall appearance a certain native simplicity, so that he looked like a Fleming or Dutchman:|
|alter erat brevior, compactiore corpore, colore fusco, ortu et sermone Graecus, sed qui frequenti commercio non contemnendum eius linguae usum haberet, nam superior vicinitate, et frequenti Graecorum consuetudine sic eorum sermonem imbiberat, ut popularis sui esset oblitus, interrogatus de natura et moribus illorum populorum, congruentia respondebat.||the other was shorter, with a stouter body, a swarthy color, Greek in origin and speech, but who with frequent interaction had a not disrespectable command of that language; for the first one on account of proximity and frequent dealings with Greeks had so taken in their speech as to have forgotten that of his own people; though when asked about the nature and customs of those peoples, he responded sensibly.|
|Aiebat gentem esse bellicosam, quae complures pagos hodieque incoleret, ex quibus Tartarorum regulus, cum expediret, octingentos pedites sclopetarios scriberet, praecipuum suarum copiarum firmamentum: primarias eorum urbes, alteram Mancup vocari, alteram Sciuarin.||He was saying that the race was a warlike one which inhabited many villages even today, from which the commander of the Tartars, when he would set out, would enlist eight hundred infantry armed with firearms, the primary foundation of his own forces; and that of their main cities, one was called Mancup, the other Sciuarin.|
|Ad haec multa de Tartaris eorumque barbarie: in quibus tamen singulari sapientia non paucos reperiri memorabat. Nam de rebus gravissimis interrogatos, breviter atque apposite respondere.||To this he added many things about the Tartars and their barbarism, but among whom he recounted not few were gifted with particular insight. For when they were asked about the most serious matters, they would respond concisely and to the point.|
|Ea de caussa non temere dictitare Turcas, reliquas quidem nationes scriptam in libris habere sapientiam, Tartaros libros suos devorasse, ideo in pectoribus eam habere reconditam, quam promat cum opus sit, et veluti divina fundant oracula.||For this reason the Turks say not casually that, though other nations have wisdom written in books, the Tartars have devoured their books, and have it so stored in their breast, and produce it as the occasion warrants, that they issue something like divine oracles.|
|Eosdem esse perquam immundis moribus: si iurulentum aliquid apponatur in mensa, nulla requirere coclearia, sed ius vola manus haurire. Enectorum equorum carnem devorare, nullo foco admotam, offas tantum sub equestri sella explicare, quibus equino calore tepefactis tanquam opipare conditis vesci.||These same ones have the most terrible habits: if some soup is placed on the table, they require no spoon, but rather the custom is to eat with the palm of the hand. They devour the meat of dead horses, served with no flame, but only lay out the pieces under a horse's saddle, and thus warmed by the horse's heat they eat them as if they were lavishly spiced.|
|Gentis regulum e mensa argentea cibum capere, primum inferri ferculum caput equi, ut et postremum, quemadmodum apud nos primo novissimoque loco honos habetur butyro.||The chief of this people takes his food from a silver table; the head of a horse is brought in as the first dish, and also the last, just as with us the honor of the first and last dish is held by butter.|
|Nunc adscribam pauca vocabula de multis quae Germanica reddebat, nam haud minus multorum plane diversa a nostris erat forma: sive quod eius linguae natura id ferat, sive quod eum fugiebat memoria et peregrina cum vernaculis mutabat: omnibus vero dictionibus praeponebat articulum tho aut the.||Now I will write down a few words of the many which sounded Germanic; for no less had many a form clearly different from ours, either because the nature of the language might cause this, or because his memory escaped him and he was mixing foreign words with native ones. Indeed, he would place the article tho or the before all his words.|
|Nostratia aut parum differentia haec erant||Those the same as ours or little different were the following:|
|Schieten.||Mittere sagittam.||To shoot an arrow.|
|Latin Text||English Text|
|Knauen tag erat illi Bonus dies: Knauen bonum dicebat et pleraque alia cum nostra lingua non satis congruentia usurpabat, ut||Knauen tag was for him 'Good day'; Knauen meant 'good', and he would use many other terms not agreeing well enough with our language, such as|
|Iel.||Vita sive sanitas.||Life or health.|
|Ieltsch.||Vivus sive sanus.||Living or healthy.|
|Iel vburt.||Sit sanum.||May it be well.|
|Kilemschkop.||Ebibe calicem.||Drink up your cup.|
|Tzo Vvarthata.||Tu fecisti.||Thou hast made.|
|Ies Varthata.||Ille fecit.||He made.|
|Ich malthata.||Ego dico.||I say.|
|Latin Text||English Text|
|Jussus ita numerabat. Ita, tua, tria, fyder, fyuf, seis, sevene, prorsus, ut nos Flandri. Nam vos Brabanti, qui vos Germanice loqui facitis, hic magnifice vos efferre, et nos soletis habere derisui, ac si istam vocem pronunciemus rancidius, quam vos Seuen effertis.||When asked he counted thus: Ita, tua, tria, fyuf, seis, sevene, just as we Flemings do. For you men of Brabant, who fancy that you speak German, are accustomed to magnify yourselves and take us for a joke, if we should pronounce horribly what you say as Seuen.|
|Prosequebatur delude Athe, nyne, thiine, thiinita, thunetua, thunetria etc. Viginti dicebat stega, triginta treithyen, quadraginta furdeithien, centum sada, hazer mille. Quin etiam cantilenam eius linguae recitabat, cuius initium erat huiusmodi:||He continued from there Athe, nyne, thiine, thiinita, thunetua, thunetria, etc. He said stega for 'twenty', treithyen for 'thirty', furdeithien for 'forty', sada for 'one hundred', hazer for 'one thousand'. Moreover he recited a song from this language, whose beginning was like this:|
|Wara wara ingdolou|
|Seu te gira Galtzou|
|Hoemisclep dorbiza ea.|
|Latin Text||English Text|
|Hi Gothi an Saxones sint, non possum diiudicare.||Whether these be Goths or Saxons is not possible to discern.|
|Si Saxones, arbitror eo deductos tempore Caroli magni, qui eam gentem per varias orbis terrarum regiones dissipavit. Cui rei testimonio sunt urbes Transilvaniae hodieque Saxonibus incolis habitatae. Atque ex iis ferocissimos fortasse longius etiam summoveri placuit in Tauricam usque Chersonesum, ubi quidem inter hostes religionem adhuc retinent Christianam.||If Saxons, I suspect that they were brought down in the time of Charles the Great, who scattered that people through the various parts of the world. As a testament to this fact there are Transilvania towns which even today are inhabited by Saxon settlers. And so perhaps it seemed fitting to move the most fierce of these even farther, all the way to the Crimea, where even among enemies they still retain the Christian religion.|
|Quod si Gothi sunt, arbitror iam olim eas sibi sedes tenuisse Getis proximas. Nec erraturum fortasse, qui sentiat maiorem partem eius intervalli, quod est inter Gothiam insulam et Procopiam, quam hodie vocant, a Gothis aliquando insessam. Hinc diversa Gothorum, Westgothorum et Ostrogothorum nomina: hinc peragratus orbis victoriis et seminarium ingens barbaricae multitudinis.||But if they are Goths, I suspect that they have held these regions for themselves beside the Getae for a long time already. Perhaps he would not be mistaken, if one thought that the greater part of that expanse which exists between the island Gotland and what they now call Perekup was once settled by Goths. From here came the various names of the Goths, the West Goths and the Ostrogoths; from here a traversal of the world through victories and the great nursery of the barbaric horde.|
|Habes quae de Taurica Chersoneso ex his Procopiensibus didici.||Now you have what I learned about the Crimea from these men of Perekup.|
In the course of subsequent copying and typesetting, it is possible that errors may have crept into the text. For example, some suggest that in setting one of the columns of the word lists, some letters may have fallen out and been incorrectly replaced. In this way, CG Thurn received the final n which properly belonged to CG Kor, and CG Fisct received the final t which properly belonged to CG Hoef. The proper words should thus be: CG *Thur, *Korn, *Fisc, *Hoeft. Others also suggest that the gloss Ego dico 'I say' for CG Ich malthata is an error for Ego dixi 'I said'; similarly the gloss Voluntas 'wish' for CG Borrotsch is a misprint for Voluptas 'pleasure'. Stearns (1978) proposes the following emendations:
|Eriten||'to cry'||*Criten, *Kriten, or *Griten|
|Menus||'meat'||is incorrectly printed for||*Mem(m)s or Menns|
|vburt||'may it be...'||*vvurt|
The phonology of Crimean Gothic is both the primary avenue of investigation into the language and the greatest source of consternation. The difficulty stems from the manner in which the linguistic data was gathered and transmitted. Interpretation of the phonology of the corpus as received suffers from three basic problems:
Corrections which may be due to the last point have been touched upon in the preceding section. Below we discuss issues related to the informant's linguistic skills and Busbecq's own skills and practices.
Most scholars interpret Busbecq's letter as suggesting that it was in fact the native Greek speaker who was the primary source of the Crimean Gothic material. If so, it is especially important to understand the sounds of his native language, since we expect that he will be more apt to preserve those phonological distinctions of Crimean Gothic which are paralleled in his own language than those which are not distinguished in his native tongue. What then was the phonological structure of the Greek which the informant spoke?
Stearns (1978) suggests the following line of reasoning. We may presume that, because of the Greek speaker's familiarity with the region, he may have been born in or near the Crimea and probably spoke the Greek found in that region at that time. We may call this language Crimean Greek of the 16th century. Inasmuch as there is scant evidence for the exact nature of this variety of Greek during this period, we must look for some indirect method to discover its characteristics.
It turns out that in the late 18th century the Tartars persecuted the Christians of the Crimea, and these Christians requested from Catherine II permission to settle in Russian territory. This was granted, and many of them, among them a large number of Greek speakers, eventually settled in the city of Mariupol (Zhdanov) in the Ukraine, beside the sea of Azov. The dialect of these Greek speakers, which we may term Mariupol Greek (MGk), survived into the 20th century. As it ultimately stems from the Greek spoken by natives of the Crimea, we may tentatively equate Mariupol Greek with Crimean Greek (CGk). We then further assume that MGk, hence CGk, has undergone little change in the centuries between the gathering of current linguistic data and the time period of Busbecq's visit to the Crimea. These assumptions are all speculative, but provide at least some starting point for an assessment of the pertinent phonology.
From studies of Mariupol Greek, we find that this dialect does in fact differ from standard Modern Greek in some ways. The consonants of Mariupol Greek, and thus Crimean Greek, are given in the chart below:
|CGk Consonants||Labial||Dental||Palatal (Alveolar)||Velar|
|Voiced:||/b/||/d/||[g] = /k/|
|Voiceless:||/c/ = [ts]||/š/|
|Nasals||/m/||/n/||[ŋ] = /n/|
Here the symbol þ is used rather than the more usual theta in keeping with our focus on Gothic. There does not appear to be any distinction between long and short consonants in MGk. In addition, MGk preserves the distinction of voiced and voiceless consonants, and word-final consonants do not undergo devoicing.
The vowels of Mariupol Greek, and so Crimean Greek, are shown in the following chart:
A period immediately following a vowel indicates a tense pronunciation. MGk apparently does not phonemically distinguish vowel length. Several of the phonemes had allophonic variants, indicated in square brackets in the column following the phoneme. In particular, the phoneme /e/ had phonetic variants including palatal on- and off-glides. MGk [je] appears for /e/ in initial position, so that [jéma] corresponds to Modern Greek [éma]; likewise MGk [ej] occurs for /e/ in one-syllable words, so that MGk [psejs] corresponds to Modern Greek [pses].
We may now consider a few examples of how our knowledge of MGk phonology, and hence CGk phonology, provides us with a method by which to interpret the Crimean Gothic corpus.
We are in a position to determine the reflex of PGmc *e in Crimean Gothic. Consider the word Busbecq transcribes as seis. The diphthong may be Busbecq's rendering of what the Greek-speaking informant pronounced as [sejs]. This mid-front vowel with palatal off-glide, however, is the Greek informant's allophone for /e/ in monosyllabic words. Hence we expect the informant's [sejs] to correspond to CG /ses/. Thus CG /e/ corresponds to PGmc *e. Compare BG saíhs, ON sex, OHG sehs.
Consider also the initial the initial ie of the words written Iel, Ies. Some scholars have taken ie to represent long [ī]. This is possible, but the allophones of CGk /e/ provide an alternate explanation. Since the CG ie appears in initial position, we might expect this to represent a palatal on-glide introduced by the informant. Thus the informant's [jes] may represent CG /es/. Compare Runic eR, OHG er from PGmc *es. In addition, since CGk does not distinguish vowel length, we may suspect that CGk /e/ represents a possible CG /ē/. Then we find in initial position [je] < CG /ē/, which is perhaps the CG reflex of the PGmc diphthong *ai. Then CG Iel = /ēl/, for which compare BG háils and OHG heil 'well', with loss of initial h-.
As regards consonants, we may recall that final voiced consonants in CGk are not devoiced. In this context we note the following correspondences:
|Meaning||Old English||Old Saxon||Crim. Goth.|
The final consonants in the CG reflexes are clearly devoiced, and this devoicing cannot be presumed to be a result of interference from the informant's native language. Thus we find that devoicing of final PGmc consonants is a feature of CG itself.
The initial p in CG Plut 'blood' poses an interesting challenge. In this position we expect the voiced plosive b, as in BG blōþ, since other words give us no indication that an initial PGmc *b should be treated specially. Compare the following: CG Broe 'bread' (cf. OE brēad, OHG brōt), CG Bruder 'brother' (cf. BG brōþar), CG Boga 'bow' (cf. ON bogi, OS, OHG bogo), CG Bars 'beard' (cf. OE beard, OHG bart), CG Brunna 'fountain' (cf. BG brunna). Given that Plut is the sole exception, it is quite possible that the p is simply a misprint. If not, we must seek another explanation. Since the informant's native tongue distinguishes voiced and voiceless consonants in all positions, we must assume that this represents a true CG [p]. It is then possible that CG had two allophones for /b/, one strongly voiced [b], and one weakly voiced [p]. The latter occurred in initial position when followed by /l/.
A similar explanation may apply to the unexpected occurrence of t in Tag 'day' and th in Thurn 'door'. These presumably represent the same voiceless plosive [t], where we would otherwise expect [d] from PGmc *d, cf. BG dags, OS duri, OHG turi. The PGmc *d in fact occurs as CG [d] in other places: Handa (cf. BG handus, ON hǫnd, OS hand) and CG fyder (cf. BG fidwor, fidur-). As with CG /b/, we may assume that CG /d/ < PGmc d had two allophones. One was lightly voiced and equivalent to [t], occurring for initial /d/; the other was voiced, and occurred for /d/ between sonorants, i.e. resonants and vowels.
An unfortunate property of the CGk phonemic inventory is that it lacks the glottal fricative /h/, which we would expect to develop at some stage in the history of CG from PGmc *x if the other Germanic languages are any indication. If such a phoneme was in fact present in CG, we would expect the Greek-speaking informant to substitute either [x] or zero. Unfortunately we find the confusing situation in which the CG corpus shows both the expected h in certain words and zero in others:
|Change||Crim. Goth.||Gothic||Old English||Old Saxon||Old High German||Old Norse||Meaning|
|*x > h||Hus||hūs||hūs||hūs||hūs||'house'|
|*x > zero||Ano||hana||hana||hano||hano||hane||'cock'|
This could be an idiosyncracy of the informant, employing [x] in some words, zero in others. Perhaps more likely, however, is that PGmc *x was in fact lost in CG, and that it was Busbecq's own knowledge of Dutch and German orthography which lead him to write an h in words which were in fact pronounced without [x]. Note that the words with h, Hus, Hoef, Handa, appear in the list of those words which Busbecq believed to be quite similar to his own, while Ano and Ieltsch appear in the list of words which sounded fairly dissimilar to the Germanic languages with which he was familiar.
Busbecq was fluent in a number of languages, and familiar with still others. Therefore the number of different language sounds with which he was familar must have been considerable. Some scholars have suggested, however, that Busbecq was not entirely familiar with [þ], hearing the sound instead as [ts], and therefore transcribing tz. Consider the following examples: CG Goltz 'gold' (cf. BG gulþ), CG Statz 'land' (cf. BG dat. sg. staþa, OS stað, OHG stad, stado 'shore'), and CG Tzo 'thou' (cf. BG þu, OE þu, ON þú).
However this same familiarity with a number of languages may have been a hindrance in the area of orthography. It is clear from the letter that Busbecq already had certain preconceived notions of the relationship the language under investigation had to other Germanic languages. It appears that in certain respects he allowed his transcription of the informant's words to be colored by the orthographic conventions of other languages, particularly Netherlandic and German writing conventions.
Busbecq's transcription ie may have represented the long vowel ī, since this was the practice in Middle Netherlandic and Early New High German. This is likely the intention in the transcription Meira 'ant' and Schieten 'shoot', which mimic Middle Netherlandic miere and schieten. Given the lack of phonemic distinction between long and short vowels in CGk, however, the informant likely pronounced a short vowel. We have also discussed above how the ie found in CG Ies, Iel, and Ieltsch likely represents the palatal on-glide of the informant's initial [je], and not the monophthong [ī]. If this is true, it shows that Busbecq suffered some inconsistency in employing letters for transcription.
As discussed in the preceding subsection, h is particularly problematic. Its apparent inconsistency on Proto-Germanic grounds is likely the result of Busbecq's own orthographic habits. This letter appeared in the Middle Netherlandic words huus, hovet, hant and in Early New High German haus, haupt, hand(t). What is more, Busbecq was accustomed to writing this letter in initial position before a vowel, since in his native Flemish [h] was lost in just this position, though inconsistently retained in the writing. This strengthens the argument outlined above, that [h] was lost in initial position in Crimean Gothic, but Busbecq inserted the letter in the writing of those words closest to those of the Germanic languages with which he was familiar.
Scholarly opinion varies on what the transcription tz actually represents. This digraph only occurs in places where one expects PGmc *þ, though *þ also appears as t, th, and d. It could of course be a misprint, but the correspondences with *þ are not chance, so that this is not likely. As mentioned above, Busbecq may have misunderstood [þ] as [ts] and thus written tz. On the other hand, he may have been attempting to transcribe the voiced fricative [ð]. But since the informant would have distinguished [ð] and [þ], he may have pronounced [ð] in CG Tzo 'thou', but it is less likely in Goltz and Statz. In the end, Busbecq likely heard CG [þ] correctly, but was confounded in how to transcribe it. Perhaps tz was his solution to this dilemma.
Unfortunately Busbecq has left us with few complete phrases with which to analyze syntactic relations and the morphology which marks those relations. Instead what we have are for the most past isolated forms devoid of context. This leaves any identification of morphological form tentative at best.
Scholars generally agree that Crimean Gothic distinguished gender, case, and number, though it is difficult to tell from the data available just to what degree. If we are correct in interpreting both s and sch as representations of CG /s/, then several words may show that CG retained the PGmc nominative singular masculine ending -z as CG /s/. Consider the following examples: CG VVintch 'wind' (if a misprint for *VVintsch, cf. BG winds), CG Fers 'man' (cf. BG faírƕus), CG Rintsch 'mountain', CH Borrotsch 'desire'. The CG phrase Knauen tag may display the ending of the accusative masculine singular. Compare the accusative singular BG dag, ON dag, OE dæg, OS dag, OHG tag. Only CG Oeghene 'eyes' has a plural gloss. This perhaps represents a nominative or accusative plural form, as with BG áugōna, ON augo, OE ēagen, OS ōgun, OHG ougun.
The phrases preserve some of the CG pronouns. In particular we find CG Ich 'I' (cf. BG ik, ON ek, OE ic, OS ik, OHG ih), as well as CG Tzo 'thou' (cf. BG þu, ON þú, OE þū, OS þū, OHG dū). We also have the masculine third person pronoun CG Ies 'he' (cf. BG is, ON er). The letter may also provide examples of the accusative singular of a third person neuter enclitic pronoun CG -(a)ta, if it is correct to interpret phrases like Ich malthata as 'I say it'. Compare BG ita, OS it, OHG iz. A different interpretation takes the pronoun to be a demonstrative CG thata, so that Ich malthata would mean 'I say that'. Compare BG þata, ON þat, OE þæt, OS that, OHS daz.
Among adjectives, CG Ieltsch 'healthy' may employ the transcription sch to reflect a strong nominative singular masculine ending CG /s/, and is thus equivalent to BG háils. The adjectives CG Alt 'old' and Telich 'foolish', lacking either transcription s or sch, may show strong neuter nominative/accusative singular endings, similar to BG blind. The pronominal alternate ending for this form, akin to BG blindata, may also be in evidence in the transcriptions -ta and -tha of the following adjectives: CG Atochta 'bad' (Lat. Malum), CG VVichtgata 'white' (perhaps misprinted for *VVitgata; Lat. Album), CG Gadeltha 'beautiful' (Lat. Pulchrum). Each of the Latin glosses shows the neuter nominative/accusative singular form. The adjective CG Knauen 'good' likely represents the strong masculine accusative singular ending, akin to BG blindan.
Busbecq's data provides us with a number of infinitive verb forms, all ending in CG -en: CG Schieten 'to shoot an arrow' (written in the manuscript with a lift over the e, rather than the n itself; Lat. Mittere sagittam), CG Schlipen 'to sleep' (Lat. Dormire), CG Kommen 'to come' (Lat. Venire), CG Singhen 'to sing' (Lat. Canere), etc.
The two verb forms CG Vvarthata and Varthata (both likely representing *VVarthata) are glossed with the Latin perfect indicative, first and second person singular, respectively. These could be disyllabic preterite forms, analogous to the plural forms of BG, e.g. nasidēdum 'we saved'; this would then show that such disyllabic forms were extended to the singular in CG. However, such a conclusion might be obviated by reading the final sequence -(a)ta or -thata as neuter accusative pronouns. In this regard, the manuscript glosses the phrase CG Ich malthata as 'I say' (Lat. Ego dico). Since this form appears the same as the preceding, and those are glossed as preterites, most scholars take Lat. Ego dico 'I say' to be a misprint for Ego dixi 'I said'. However, reading the final two syllables as a neuter direct object allow the manuscript reading to stand, and perhaps this shows the first person singular, present indicative active.
The phrase CG Kilemschkop 'drink up your cup' is glossed as a Latin imperative. Reading the final syllable -kop as the CG word for 'cup', then that leaves Kilemsch as a second person singular imperative. The phrase CG Iel vburt 'may it be well' is glossed with the Latin present subjunctive. The form CG vburt, perhaps for *vvurt, may be a third person singular past subjunctive (optative): cf. OHG wurti from werdan.
There are a meagre few phrases in the Crimean Gothic corpus from which we can even hope to begin a study of the language's syntax. Most regrettably, the cantilena (song)
|Wara wara ingdolou|
|Seu te gira Galtzou|
|Hoemisclep dorbiza ea.|
does not even contain a gloss. This is a particular blow, because this is the only possible passage which may have contained multiple clauses, or at least one extended clause. What we are left with, then, are the following phrases:
|Knauen tag||Bonus dies||good day|
|Iel vburt (*vvurt)||Sit sanum||may it be well|
|Tzo Vvarthata||Tu fecisti||thou hast made, done|
|Ies Varthata||Ille fecit||he made, did|
|Ich malthata||Ego dico||I say|
|Kilemschkop||Ebibe calicem||drink up your cup|
If we take CG -thata to be a pronoun, then we may make the following analysis:
|Tzo||Vvar||-thata||thou hast made that|
|Ies||Var||-thata||he made that|
|Ich||mal||-thata||I say that|
Assuming the informant made no syntactic errors, then it appears that CG is tentatively a Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) language. Such an identification must be qualified, however, by the structure of the phrase CG Knauen tag '(I bid you) good day'. This presumably shows an attributive adjective preceding the noun it modifies, which is a feature generally associated with SOV languages. If similar to other Germanic languages of a similar time period, Crimean Gothic was likely an SVO language which retained remnants of an earlier period of SOV word order.
If the phrase CG Kilemschkop 'drink up your cup' is actually to be analyzed as an imperative Kilemsch and direct object -kop, then it appears imperative forms occupy first position in an utterance. This order need not hold, however, if the verb is subjunctive: CG Iel vburt 'may it be well' appears to be verb final.