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Mutual Intelligibility of Older Germanic

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quendidil
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 Message 9 of 15
17 May 2010 at 9:44pm | IP Logged 
From a brief glance through the Greek I think it is indeed the Koine version - rough breathings and circumflex accents give it away.
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Wise owl chick
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 Message 10 of 15
17 May 2010 at 9:56pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:


þ


How is the pronunciation of this letter? is it like θ ?
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Iversen
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 Message 11 of 15
17 May 2010 at 9:58pm | IP Logged 
Like th in 'think'. In Icelandic it is called thorn
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Huliganov
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 Message 12 of 15
17 May 2010 at 10:23pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
I have not worked much on Gothic, but it certainly is an interesting language. Considering the impact the Goths (both Ostro- and Visi-) have had in world history for a short while 1500 years ago it would be a pity if we didn't have at least one good source for knowledge about their language - just as it {is a pity that we don't have any worthwhile Gaulish or Iberian sources, and that we can't understand those we have from the Etruscans.

But luckily much of bishop (W)ulfila's bible translation has survived, and it can be read in a trilingual version here. The beginning of Luke in Gothic, with the English version of King James and a Greek version added, runs as follows:

- Unte raihtis managai dugunnun meljan insaht bi þos gafullaweisidons in uns waihtins,
— Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
— ἐπειδήπερ πολλοὶ ἐπεχείρησαν ἀνατάξασθαι διήγησιν περὶ τῶν πεπληροφορημένων ἐν ἡμῖν πραγμάτων,

- swaswe anafulhun unsis þaiei fram frumistin silbasiunjos jah andbahtos wesun þis waurdis;
— Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
— καθὼς παρέδοσαν ἡμῖν οἱ ἀπ' ἀρχῆς αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται γενόμενοι τοῦ λόγου,

etc.

Frankly this is difficult to read even with a translation (or two), and as far as I can see the Gothic and English texts are not parallel, and neither one is a parallel version of the Greek one (which can't be the original Koiné version - not enough diacritics!). If anything the Gothic versions seems to be closer to the Greek one, which again must be fairly close to the original text from Septuaginta.

The same thing in the Latin rendering known as Vulgata (Clementina) and in Luther's German version from 1545 (both quoted from Lexilogos:

Quoniam quidem multi conati sunt ordinare narrationem, quæ in nobis completæ sunt, rerum
sicut tradiderunt nobis, qui ab initio ipsi viderunt, et ministri fuerunt sermonis :

Sintemal sich's viele unterwunden haben, zu stellen die Rede von den Geschichten, so unter uns ergangen sind,       
uns das gegeben haben, die es von Anfang selbst gesehen und Diener des Worts gewesen sind:       



Firstly I would just say that it is faithful to the Textus Receptus in Greek. I checked it against mine which is a Macmillen from London printed in 1873 - it doesn't contain a word of English, what's not in Greek is in Latin! In my opinion there should not be more diacritics in Koine than one per word if it is not a monosyllable, showing where the accent is, plus breathings if it starts in a vowel, plus iota subscript if it's a dative. But that's probably just my amateurish understanding of it. Suffice it to say that this passage matches the print version diacritic for diacritic.

Then secondly the Gothic maps the Greek to my mind rather more closely than the English one does. You can certainly see an attempt in the English to change the word order to suit natural English speech. For example, in the first verse "those things which are most most surely believed among is" - the "things" is at the end of the verse in Greek and in Gothic, and way up in the sentence in the King James. Also the King James team made a howler in the translation of "most surely believed" among us. That is almost certainly an error. The Vulgate and the Gothic talk about things having been "fulfilled" or "completed", not "believed". Also, the very next verse says that among them there are eyewitnesses to these things - and if you're an eyewitness you don't "believe" something - you *know* it. A second example of this word order is the position of the word "were" in verse 2 in each of the versions. So in fact the Gothic shows itself to be a much closer mapping to the Greek. And that goes on and on throughout everything in the Wulfila codex.

Even the way the letters are combined to make the sounds - allowing for the fact that this anyway is a transcription from an alphabet used by Wulfila which was a good deal closer to the Greek one anyway - the use of "gg" for "ng", the use of diphthongs to produce analagous sounds to the ones emerging in post classical Greek for the same diphthongs - these all betray how strongly influenced Wulfila was by his desire to make his translation as faithful as it could be.

Impressive though this may be from a theological perspective, (not that I am greatly impressed with the tendency to Arianism that the East Germanic tribes had - no pun intended) it still leaves the question open as to whether we have a natural Gothic record here at all, or rather an attempt to map Gothic onto a foreign scheme. Still, by looking at the sounds and the structure of the Gothic we certainly do receive an echo of the language. I believe one can feel the sound of it from Wulfila's work and the scholarly analysis of it such as there is that one could make a reasonable fist of pronouncing it and that a Goth from the time it was set down, if he emerged today from a coma and could remember and speak to us, would recognise the language as his own to a certain degree. I have heard Professor Arguilles reading of part of Mark in YouTube and his way of pronouncing it is broadly similar to the way I did it 24 years ago when I taped it and heard it back repeatedly in order to learn it. It's anyone's guess, of course, how it really sounded, but it's also interesting when people's guesses corroborate one another closely.

It was interesting to listen to the Latin envisaged by the makers of the film "The Passion of the Christ" - it sounded to me as if it were spoken by Romanians or Moldavians, but who can say how it sounded in reality?


Edited by Huliganov on 17 May 2010 at 10:24pm

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Wise owl chick
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 Message 13 of 15
18 May 2010 at 11:40am | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
Like th in 'think'. In Icelandic it is called thorn


Thank you. It's interesting that Gothic had this sound but of the Germanic languages, only English and Icelandic have this now. Greek and Spanish have it also. What's the connection, and why the other languages haven't this sound more?
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Huliganov
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 Message 14 of 15
18 May 2010 at 12:04pm | IP Logged 
Wise owl chick wrote:
Iversen wrote:
Like th in 'think'. In Icelandic it is called thorn


Thank you. It's interesting that Gothic had this sound but of the Germanic languages, only English and Icelandic have this now. Greek and Spanish have it also. What's the connection, and why the other languages haven't this sound more?


There was a th to d shift in German. Martin Luther should have actually been called "Luder", but as that was not befitting to a theologian of his stature, his ancestors didn't join in that sound-shift. There was an opt-out clause if the result gave you a rude sounding name, you see. That is probably why it got retained just about everywhere in Icelandic and English, come to think of it...

In all honesty I think the reason it was one of the first to be dropped in languages was that the sound is not economical. It needs the tongue to move further forward in the mouth than other consonants. Also th in English is problematic - some people voice it in words that other people would leave it unvoiced. The British, I mean those of us who can be bovvered to make a "th" sound at all, say "with" with a voiced th. Americans can often be heard to pronounce the word with an unvoiced "th". And then there is the problem that within England alone those who find "th" a trouble to pronounce do default to a variety of replacement letters. I heard people defaulting th to d, in accordance with Old Germanic tradition, and was very proud of them. But many default th unvoiced to f, not t. The Irish and I think Liverpool defaults the unvoiced sound to 't', but Savvern Inglish, especially Saaf Landen, does an 'f' for unvoiced and by analogy a 'v' for voiced 'th'. (And we still don't have our own Wikipedia language, which is a bleedin disgrace, Jimbo moy san).

Let me give an example - some years back when regulation of the high-cost information telephone lines was just getting under way, adverts for info lines had to show you the country you would be ringing to. One advert said "Calls terminate in Tuvalu". One of my colleagues speaking Saaf Landen read this out, and another one laughed, thinking he had said that the calls terminated "into the loo", that is, the toilet.

(No disrespect intended to that island nation. In fact, I have a .tv domain myself. Pluggy-pluggy-plug.)

The argument that "th" is dropped because it is less economical to pronounce can be backed up by looking at how the equivalent to "th" unvoiced aspirate in the dental group in the other groups are fairing. In the labial group (no porn intended) the 'f' is dropped from most Slavic languages, except in loan words. Its popularity in Germanic is all down to the First Sound Shift, a linguistic event that is grimm to look into. The "ch" in the velar group as in "Loch" is barely used in English and most Germanic languages have demoted it to simple h in many cases, and of course even simple 'h' is regularly dropped in many English dialects. 'sh' in the sibilant group has been reduced or dropped in a number of languages also. It is not easy to find in Greek, for instance. Unvoiced aspirates have a hard time in the human mouth, you can't be in denial about it. Even the well-worn joke about denial being not just a river in Africa refers back to what I'm talking about.

The one conundrum is why Castillian Spanish, in its European version, actually prought in a "th" sound, which we have admitted is a hard one to keep going, into the language, admittedly though not in the same place, but as a lisped version of 'c' and 'z'. One benefit it has there, of course, is to facilitate diferenciacion between 'c/z' and 's'which is not audible in Latin American Spanish. I have no idea what impact that has on the frecuencia of espelling miztakes in that part of the world, perhaps someone here can enlighten me. One answer I heard was that it was a feature of aristocratic speech to lisp, and that people copied it to show how genteel (as in 'inbred') they were. I do give this theory some credence as there are parallels elsewhere - it puts me in mind of when the court was at St Petersburg and it became fashionable to adapt the style of that court, which in addition to 'okanie' happened to include an inability to roll one's 'r's for the camera, and also the same lisp on 's'. Today there is a tendency in so-called "World Spanish" to lose the 'th', and the Russian courtly lisp was put paid to rather more rapidly by the revolutsia. Anyone going around talking in courtly accents during that epic upheaval would be taking an unnethethary rithk.

In English the lisp became associated in the twentieth century and possibly earlier with camp speech, with all the TV sitcoms which showed stereotyped homosexuals having them lisping, which wasn't very nice for people who lisped because they couldn't help it, although it may well be some new friendships started that way for some people, who wouldn't otherwise have been exposed to them.

In case you are wondering on what basis I am positing that lisping only became relatively recently associated with homosexual speech in English, let me tell you what evidence I have - if you look up the popular hymn "O worship the King, all glorious above" by Sir Robert Grant (1785-1838) you will find that the original hymn has the following final verse:

"O measureless Might! Ineffable Love!     
While angels delight to hymn thee above,     
The humber creation, though feeble their lays,     
With true adoration shall lisp to thy praise."

In post-war hymnals this was often replaced with "... sing to thy praise". Interesting that they felt no need to update the archaic "thy" but couldn't handle any more the idea of "lisping" at God! You will find both versions in abundance in search engines, as well as an entirely modernised "you/your" version with a theologically modified version of the last verse here.

In Germany today there seems to be a tremendous amount of lisping going on, and nobody feels that they need to draw attention to it, neither does it seem to go hand in hand with campness, so it seems perfectly in Ordnung to hear "Sie sind so sauer" as if they were saying in English "Thee thinned though thou-a", and not a rainbow flag or an earring in sight. So, maybe the sound is actually returning to German, just in a different place. As long as no-one calls Martin Luther "Martin Loser" when the trend inevitably reverses again in the future, then why not?       

Edited by Huliganov on 18 May 2010 at 1:11pm

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Wise owl chick
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 Message 15 of 15
19 May 2010 at 12:01pm | IP Logged 
This was a great reply, thank you very much Huliganov!! I must take soem time for read it and better understand it because it's complicated and my English isn't so well as I would like.


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