----- Original Message -----
From: x99lynx@...
To: cybalist@yahoogroups.com
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 occurs.
> 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 albiz ...
*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 thing.
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 reasons.)
I won't. I've done so before.