----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, September 30, 2002 8:47 AM
Subject: [tied] Re: Pliny's "Guthalus"
> Okay, in this weird, upside world of reconstruction: Gota alv
[*gauta albiz] does NOT look like Guthalus BUT *Gut(a)-xalsaz DOES look like
Guthalus. Give me a break.
Dear Steve, Pliny Latinised all those rivernames. <-us>,
<-is> and <-a> are _Latin_ endings, equivalent (roughly) to Germanic
*-az (the usual ending of Germanic masculines), *-iz and *-o: (strong feminine
declension). *gutxalsaz would have been Latinised as *Guthalsus, which, although
not a perfect prototype for the Plinian form (as I admitted) is still a
damn sight better than *Gauta Albiz 'The Gautish Elbe' (it might have been
Latinised as *Gauto:rum Albis, *Gautalbis or the like). Note that Modern Swedish
älv (don't forget the umlaut; it does make a difference, and <alv> is a
different Swedish word) is historically the same as continental <Elbe>
*albiz, which is Pliny's Albis in the exact same sentence in which Guthalus
> First, Pliny's Latin did not have the letter <u>, so we
should read Guthalus as -alvs. And <v> could stand for what would be
written as either <u> or <w> in later script. Even if Pliny did
interpret or Latinize the word as ending in -us, there is no way to be sure that
it originally was not -ws in his sources.
I know how Latin was written, thank you. But see above. If the
Germanic stem had ended in *-alw-, Pliny would have made it -ALVVS
<-alvus> or -ALVA <-alva>. Anyway, <älv> is a _Modern_
Swedish word, and since we (or at lest some of us) know how Swedish developed in
time, we can avoid committing gross anachronisms like comparing Göta älv
directly with Guthalus, which is two thousand years older.
> Secondly, the idea that even the conjectured and undateable *gaunt
*Gauta albiz, actually. Undateable? Conjectured? Both elements are
attested separately (ON Gautr and elfr; the form I gave is more or less
Proto-Scandinavian, but will work also for Pliny's time). I merely put
them together. The former is the genitive plural of the name of the Gauts. I
hope you've heard of them -- the Geatas of Beowulf, and the people after whom
Götaland and Göteborg were named.
> ... could not end up as "Guthalus" in Pliny's writings is totally
uncalled for, especially when we know that Pliny had no personal experience with
these names and was mostly relying on lost Greek and other works (like Pytheas
-- some three hundred years before Pliny wrote) for most of his
imformation. To act as if there were any certainty as to how such words
would have been transferred or altered is total overstatement.
Don't underestimate Pliny. The names that _can_ be verified
(those of the Elbe, the Vistula, the Weser, the Maas or the Rhein) were
transmitted very faithfully.
> Especially since Gote Alv and Guthalvs look like the same damn
They don't even _sound_ alike, though.
Swedish Göta älv (_not_ Gota or Gote alv) is pronounced [jø:ta
Elv], and if that's the same damn thing as Guthalus, I'm the same friggin'
thing as Mickey Mouse. You can't escape reconstructing the older form, and if
you want to do that, you'd better use the methods worked out by linguists, weird
as they may seem to you, rather than homespun ones.
> And HOW can one take seriously the distinction
between <gut> and <guth> when the Romans were apparently able to use
<gutones>, <gotones>, <gothones>, <getae> and
<gothi> to describe Goths who supposedly had the self name
<goten>. (And PLEASE there's no reason to offer explanation for how
the Goth name could vary, because those explanations do not affect the fact the
Guthalvs word would have been subject to as much variation for any number of
I won't. I've done so before.