Re: That old Odin scenario ...

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 58347
Date: 2008-05-04

On 2008-05-04 01:19, tgpedersen wrote:

> Actually, I've thought of this explanation:
> It is not the Germans that are called mute,
> but the mutes are called Germans.
> Or rather Nemeti, since that was the closest non-Slavic speaking tribe
> to the Slavs at the time.
> I was going to check first whether the "mute" word has a proper
> etymology in Slavic, since I suspected it didn't. I haven't yet.

Sorry, Torsten, if I burst your balloon, but the Slavic 'mute' word is
*ne^mU, and the 'German(ic)' derivative is *ne^mIcI, not *nemetU (or the
like). The suffix just can't be earlier (or even borrowed) *-eto-; apart
from problems with the vowel, *t is never palatalised to *c except
dialectally (West Slavic) in combination with *-tj-, but that would have
given Russian c^, OCS *s^t, etc. It must be just what it seems to be,
*-IcI < *-iko- (affected by the progressive palatalisation of *k).
Deadjectival nouns in *-iko- are highly producttive in Slavic, cf.
*starIcI 'old man' from *starU, etc. As for *ne^mU, there are two
etymologies around: from BSl. *me:mas 'mute, stammering' (Latv. me:ms
'mute') with dissimilation, of *ne- + some form of *h1em- 'take' in the
sense 'comprehend' (frequent in Slavic), which would make
'incomprehensible' rather than 'mute' the original meaning of *ne^mU --
which makes sense, given that the Germanic neighbours of the Slavs
probably talked a lot if the number of loans is anything to go by.