Re: Vampire [was: Pagan, heathen ...]

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 25503
Date: 2003-09-03

In my opinion, the most likely ultimate source of <vampir> as an
international wanderwort is one of the Bulgaro-Macedonian dialects.
Nasal vowels survived in that area much longer than anywhere else in
South Slavic; indeed, they aren't quite extinct yet. In some modern
dialects of western Macedonia the reflex of *o~ before stops is still
pronounced as /aN/, where /N/ is a nasal homorganic with the following
consonant (e.g. *zo~bU 'tooth' > zamb, cf. Polish za,b /zomp/). This
would fit <vampir> like a black cloak.

*vUnU- must be ruled out; it explains no West or East Slavic forms known
to me; not does it work for the Macedonian forms you quote (they contain
the regularly expected reflexes of denasalised *o~). Polish <wa,pi(e)rz>
(archaic or regional, and found occasionally in Polish toponymy) can't
go back to *vUnU-pirU, which would have given *<wenpi(e)r> or <wempi(e)r>.

A less likely possibility is that Romanian, which borrowed extensively
from South Slavic at a time when the nasal vowels were still nasal, is
the source of the Serbian word. Less likely -- because the Slavic nasal
vowels are normally reflected as Romanian <âN> or <uN> rather than <aN>.
I don't know if there are any dialectal forms in Romanian different from
the literary word. Marius? George?

"Nosferatu" is Bram Stoker's invention, perhaps a garbled version of a
genuine Romanian word (e.g. <nesuferitul> 'the unbearable'?). Again, our
Romanian friends are better qualified to judge.


> From: Jim Rader <jrader@...>
> To:
> Subject: [tied] Re: Vampire [was: Pagan, heathen ...]
> Send reply to: jrader@...
> Date sent: Thu, 28 Aug 2003 17:47:08 -0400
> Piotr presents an excellent summation of the history of *vo~-. My
> apologies for not noticing the ~ marking nasality. I fired my query
> off a little too rapidly. (The following may contain chunks of
> extraneous coding--please bear with me--I'll resend if anyone is
> interested.)
> The historical background of <vampire> makes things not so easily
> resolvable. The place and time that Serbian <vampir> entered
> German (and hence learned Latin and other European languages) are
> known with
> a great deal of certainty. In 1725 and 1732, Austrian officials in
> Serbia attended at the disinterment of several fluid-filled corpses
> whom (which?) the local villagers claimed were behind a plague of
> vampirism. Reports of the disinterments and the villagers' beliefs
> diffused quickly in German intellectual circles and were the subject
> of learned dissertations. The German text of the earlier report was
> reproduced in Michael Ranfft's _De masticatione mortuorum in
> tumulis_,
> printed in Leipzig in 1728; the text is more readily available in an
> article by Rudolf Grenz in _Zeitschrift für Ost-Forschung_, 16:2,
> 1967. The word was a novelty to the author(s) of the report:
> "...…sintemahl aber bey dergleichen Personen (so sie Vampyri
> nennen)
> verschiedene Zeichen, als dessen Cörper unverweset, Haut, Haar,
> Barth
> und Nägel an ihm wachsend zu sehen seyn müsten, als haben sich die
> Unterthanen einhellig resolvieret, das Grab des Peter Plogojowitz zu
> eröffnen, und zu sehen, ob sich würklich obbemeldete Zeichen an ihm
> befinden...." There are certainly earlier discussions of revenants in
> Europe, but I know of no earlier use of the word <vampir>.
> I don't believe Hungarian has any role in the westward transmission of
> <vampir>. According to the multi-author _A Magyar Nyelv to"rte`neti-
> etimolo`gai szo`ta`ra_ , the word is unattested in Hungarian before
> 1786, and first occurs in contexts that suggest a literary borrowing
> from Western Europe.
> If <vampir> is authentically Serbian, which is unquestionable, and was
> only borrowed in the 18th century, the idea that <vam-> represents a
> non-Slavic rendering of the Slavic nasal vowel is untenable--unless
> the word was reborrowed by South Slavic from an adjacent non-Slavic
> language that had borrowed the word at a much earlier date. Kenneth
> Naylor actually proposed that the word was borrowed from Romanian
> (_Southeastern Europe/L'Europe du Sud-Est_ 10:2, 1983), but could
> not
> supply any Romanian evidence. (Alex, George, and friends? By the
> way, does
> anyone know the earliest sense and etymology of <Nosferatu>?)
> Others have tried to explain <vam-> within Serbian/Croatian.
> André Vaillant, in an article published in _Slavia_ in 1931, proposed
> that <*upir>, with the expected outcome of the back nasal vowel in
> Serbian/Croatian, namely *u-, was altered to <vampir> by a two-stage
> process (insertion of initial [v] and intrusive [m]) by analogy with
> doublets such as <vazduh/uzduh>, “air,” and <dubrava/dumbrava>,
> “grove.” However, a Serbian/Croatian form with initial <u-> is
> attested only once, as <upirin> in a 17th-century poem written in
> Dalmatia; in Serbia and Bosnia, all the other forms that I can find
> have internal -m-. Taking a different tack, Trubachev has suggested
> that Serbian <vampir> would be the outcome of *vUnUpirU, with
> *vUnU-
> being a variant of *o~-; this would accord with -a- as the regular
> reflex of *U in Serbian/Croatian. (But isn't this the etymon of
> Russian <von>, OCS <vUnU>, etc., which has no necessary
> connection
> with *vo~/vUn....?)
> However, neither of these explanations of <vampir> can be
> easily reconciled with all of the extant South Slavic data. Both
> Trubachev (implicitly) and Vaillant assume that the word is, as
> Vaillant puts it, “un serbisme” that has penetrated into Macedonia and
> Bulgaria, but I would question why a word so closely associated with
> local cultural attitudes toward the dead would have diffused from
> (historical) northern Serbia and supplanted forms native to other
> regions. To judge from the data presented by Tihomir Djordjevic
> (“Vampir i druga bic`a u nas^em narodnom verovanju i predanju,” in
> the
> 1953 volume of _Srpski etnografski zbornik_), and M. Racheva (“K
> istoriko- e`timologic^eskomu izuc^eniju nazvanija vampira v
> bolgarskom
> i serboxorvatskom jazykax” in _Etimologija 1994-1996_, Moscow:
> Nauka,
> 1997), the dominant form in Macedonia and Bulgaria is <vampir>,
> extending from Kostur (Kastoria) in what is now northwestern Greece
> (the southwesternmost corner of the South Slavic speech area)
> eastward
> to Balchik and Varna on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. There are
> many
> interesting variants, including a number of occurrences of <vapir> and
> <vapirin>, mainly in Pirin Macedonia, as well as isolated forms in
> Macedonia such as <vUpir> (Kostur area), vUper (Valovishte), and
> voper
> (Ohrid). I am not sufficiently acquainted with Bulgarian and
> Macedonian dialects to be able to say whether all these forms can be
> derived from presumed *vUnUpirU/I and/or *o~pirU/I.
> Comments/corrrections? --Jim Rader
>> --- In, "Jim Rader" <jrader@...> wrote:
>> > Does *(v)o- really account for the mass of divergent outcomes this
>> > prefix takes in the attested forms? I don't know about "leaves
>> > nothing unexplained".... How do you explain u-, vam-, va-, vU-,
>> > etc.?
>> It's *(v)o~-, in fact ([o~] = nasal [o]). It derives from the PIE
>> adverb/preposition *h1en 'in' > BSl. *en ~ *an. The Slavic forms can
>> be derived from *an, which developed two different Proto-Slavic
>> variants: "strong" *o~ found in compounds (with word-medial
>> treatment of the final nasal) and "weak" *U(n) used as a preposition
>> or preverb meaning 'in' (with word-final phonetics, the final *n
>> being realised only before a vowel, like a/an in English).
>> Any word-initial *U received an obligatory prothetic glide: *U > *vU
>> (it survives now even if the vowel has been lost, hence <v> 'in' in
>> so many Slavic languages). Initial *o~ could also receive such a
>> prothesis, but not in all early Slavic dialects, hence the regional
>> variation *o~/*vo~. The nasal vowel is still nasal in Polish, but it
>> gives various other reflexes elsewhere, e.g. /u/ in Russian, hence
>> Russ. upyr' (also locally in Polish dialects, hence <upiór>
>> 'spectre, ghost' beside archaic <wa,pierz> with the normal
>> development of *o~). It was still nasal in some South Slavic
>> dialects at the time the now international form <vampir->/<vampyr->
>> began to spread into non-Slavic languages (Hungarian, German, etc.).
>> <am> is merely a Latinised orthographic rendering of the Slavic
>> nasal vowel.