Re: Vampire

From: m_iacomi
Message: 25521
Date: 2003-09-04

--- In, "tolgs001" wrote:

>> I don't know if there are any dialectal forms in Romanian
>> different from the literary word. Marius? George?
> <vampir> seems to be a quite recent (150-200 y) neologism;
> via French & German, says the Romanian dictionary.

Most probably this has to be true. Western-type vampires are
not quite a real tradition for Romanians. The word has no other
forms (out of some obvious deformations like "bampir", present
in nowdays ironical speech - allusion to a very well-known 19th
century play by Caragiale, attesting that at least in 1883 the
word was already in use).

> OTOH, I suppose there's no similar fantastic character in the
> Romanian folklore, and having a name similar to <vampir>.

Romanian folkore makes reference to a couple of fabulous beings
having some "vampire" attributes. There is "vârcolac" (the closest
equivalent of `vampire`) -- an undetermined being "eating" the Sun
or the Moon during eclipses but also a non-dead blood-sucking guy;
obviously, the etymon is Slavic (Bulgarian "vãrkolak"). There are
also other kinds of non-dead guys (merely kinds of ghosts) from
which the most vampire-like word could be "strigoi" (still Slavic).

>> "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.
> I don't know. <nesuferitul> might be too... weak
> for such a terrible character.

For `the Devil`, Daco-Romanian uses "Necuratul" (or, sometimes,
"Nefârtatul", literally meaning `the one who's not in brotherhood
[with humans]`). A derivation from the latter one seems unlikely
as phonetics come into play; "Nesuferitul" is slightly better from
this point of view (still /i/ > /a/ would be rather strange), but
doesn't qualify because it's not used to design evil beings.
I would pick something not too far from Ned's etymology proposal,
even if the final /u/ in "Nosferatu" sounds somehow Romanian.

> I suppose the Romanian connection is merely given by this:
> Eastern Transylvania (towards Moldavia), where Stoker's weird
> character, count Dracula, dwells (in Stoker's imagination).

Actually, Bram Stoker's Count Dracula is not Romanian but Szekler
(Hungarian-speaking population in Eastern Transylvania).

> The other idea, namely that Stoker's inspiration was the prince
> Vlad "TzepeS" ("The Impaler") is not convincing.

It depends in what. The name "Dracula" is ultimately a deformation
of "Drãculea" (`devilish`) which was Vlad(islav) Basarab II's
nickname in Romanian.

> The main Western sources for V's alleged crazy cruelties were
> German pamphlets circulated 20 years after V's death, as well as
> some writings of the contemporary German poet Martin Behaim.
> [...]
> However, all those leitmotifs have virtually nothing in common
> with count Dracula, except for the... nickname, Dracula,

There was more. German survivors of some punishment expedition of
Vlad in Brasov (Kronstadt) spread away the idea that Vlad was so
cruel because he used to suck victims' blood (during that ages,
this kind of ideas were successful enough...). More than that, the
rumor spread that during his long captivity near Budapest, he was
passing his time capturing cell fellows rats and sucking their blood
or having them impaled on pieces of wood (such a cruel character
needed always blood). Of course, that's pure fantasy, but it was
enough to consolidate Vlad's reputation as canonical vampire.

> In the German pamphlets of the 15th-16th c., this nickname isn't
> spelled Dracula, but Dracole, in the syntagm "Dracole wayde"
> (voyvod), "der schroecken-liche (schreckliche) Wüterich".

That is a missing link between (Romanian) "Drãculea" and Bram
Stoker's "Dracula" (probably B.S. has heard also the nick from
some Romanian mouth, with /u/ not with /o/).

Marius Iacomi