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Thread: All Gothic Loanwords in Baltic Languages Mediated through Slavs - Busting the Myth

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    All Gothic Loanwords in Baltic Languages Mediated through Slavs - Busting the Myth

    I have seen this appeared many times in forums, also in wikipedia.
    For example here:
    As for the Baltic languages, all their prehistoric Germanic loanwords are either mediated through Slavic or are borrowed from Old Norse or Proto-Norse; i.e., borrowed during a period well after Slavic prehistory (which ended c. 600 CE).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Slavic_borrowings

    So I decided to dig it up. I found this.
    Frederick Kurtland "The Origins of the Goths", page 4, final point:
    A final point to be noted is that Baltic loanwords from Gothic were transmitted through Slavic (cf. Stender-Petersen 1927: 134 and Green 1998: 172-174), which suggests that the Balts never had direct contact with the Goths but were separated from them by the Slavs.

    This sentence suggests that Kurtland made his point based on page 134 of Stender-Petersen work of 1927, and pages 172-174 of Green work of 1998.

    Page 134 of Stender-Petersen "Slavisch-germanische Lehnwortkunde" I could not find online.

    Pages 171-174 of Green "Language and History in the early Germanic world" are not that categorical and states the following quotes:
    1. "Another difficulty concerns the precise Germanic language from which Baltic languages may have drawn their loanwords"
    He mentions Prussian Sarwis vs Gothic Sarwa. Lithuanian muita (Latvian muita) vs Gothic mota and speculates that it is unclear whether those words came from Gothic, other Germanic or mediated via Slavic.
    2. "Related to all these difficulties is the question whether a Gothic loanword entered Baltic directly or via Slavonic"
    Here he discusses following examples:
    Gothic "Hlaifs" vs Lithuanian "kliepas" (loaf of bread, my own example Latvian "Klaips", my own comment Russian is "Hleb"? Does Hlaifs-> Hleb -> Klaips make sense?)
    Gothic "Hilms" vs Prussian "Ilmis" (helmet, Slavic Shlem?)
    Gothic "Katils" vs Prussian "Catils" (boiler, my own example Latvian "Katls", my own comment Russian is Katel. Does Katils -> Katel -> Katls make sense?)
    Gothic "Stikls" vs Prussian "Sticlo" (glass?, here Russian "Steklo" and Latvian "Stikls")


    Of the above examples he states this:
    3. "These cultural loans into Baltic languages could therefore have been effected directly by the Goths or through the Slavs as intermediaries"

    Further he discusses Gothic loans in Slavic languages:
    4. "It is clear that Gothic loanwords into Slavonic are much more frequent than in Baltic and cover a more varied range"
    - my comment - I agree author.

    In general my view here is this:
    The above mentioned examples can't be mediated via Slavs (pls see below). However on one item we agree with the author. There are many different ways how words could have arrived into Baltic languages from Germanics (Goths, Norse, Livonian Order State).

    Let's take examples from Green's work based on which Kurtland made categorical point:
    Gothic has "hlaifs" -> hleb? chleb? -> Latvian has "klaips"
    Gothic has "hilmis" -> shlem? helm? -> Prussian has "ilmis"
    Gothic has "katils" -> kotel? -> Prussian "katils", Latvian "katls"
    Gothic has "stikls" -> steklo? szklo? -> Prussian "stiklo", Latvian "stikls"

    Conclusion
    1) I believe further study in the subject is necessary. To present a single Gothic word that was mediated into Baltic from Slavic, one should show the relevant initial word, the word's form in relevant Slavic stage and relevant Baltic borrowing with relevant sound changes after borrowing when applicable.
    2) Same holds true for Gothic words that got directly into Baltic languages.
    3) The bolded statements of All Gothic loanwords in Baltic languages mediated through Slavs is simply wrong. Definately not all. Maybe not even most.

    But if you can point me to a good study that shows word forms at language states and how they entered Baltic languages (Gothic via Slavic) or (all prehistoric Germanic via proto-Norse, Norse or Slavs), I will be happy to learn.
    (I have a theory for which proto-Norse/Norse origin for all pre-historic German borrowings would be nice cherry on top :) )

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    Arvisto (and whoever else is interested in these matters,) what do you think about the opinion that the Corded Ware Culture is too early to make a distinction between pre-proto Germanic and pre-proto Baltic and the Baltic languages are intrusive to the Baltic area from the Southeast and likely more recent, e.g. middle/ late Bronze Age movements and the Germanic language is the original language of the Baltic and Polish areas?

    Irrespective of the above, all words in your list: bread, helmit, glass, boiler, are probably later inventions that postdate the Corded Ware priod. I find it however odd that the Baltic languages are among the closest languages to the Proto-Indoeuropean and yet Germanic would have preceded it in the area. If we argue that Balts represent a more recent Indo-European flow from the southeast, why they carry more WHG than the Germanics. When you look at this admixture chart (http://biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/s...1/005850-1.pdf) you see that the purest Northeast Europeans are Vepsas, Karelians, North Russians and Lithuanians in this order. Orcadians and Germans have a much smaller percentage of Northeast European ancestry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kristiina View Post
    Arvisto (and whoever else is interested in these matters,) what do you think about the opinion that the Corded Ware Culture is too early to make a distinction between pre-proto Germanic and pre-proto Baltic and the Baltic languages are intrusive to the Baltic area from the Southeast and likely more recent, e.g. middle/ late Bronze Age movements and the Germanic language is the original language of the Baltic and Polish areas?

    Irrespective of the above, all words in your list: bread, helmit, glass, boiler, are probably later inventions that postdate the Corded Ware priod. I find it however odd that the Baltic languages are among the closest languages to the Proto-Indoeuropean and yet Germanic would have preceded it in the area. If we argue that Balts represent a more recent Indo-European flow from the southeast, why they carry more WHG than the Germanics. When you look at this admixture chart (http://biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/s...1/005850-1.pdf) you see that the purest Northeast Europeans are Vepsas, Karelians, North Russians and Lithuanians in this order. Orcadians and Germans have a much smaller percentage of Northeast European ancestry.
    The German language only began to develop about 2500 years ago from a mixture of IE and one or more pre-IE languages so Germanic borrowings from a Baltic language seems more likely than Baltic language from German unless we're talking about a fairly recent word.

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    @Kristiina
    Couple of points/speculations:
    1) I need to check on what basis they believe Germanic was spoken there before Baltic. My best educated guess is because some very archaic toponymes in Baltic lands or loan words in Finnish carry Centum not Satem features.
    2) Based on this guess apparently first Corded Ware folk had Centum features in language, but autosomally did not differ much from next wave Satem.
    3) Those Corded Ware Centum, who went in Germany/Scandinavia and created modern Germanic folk, mixed on their way with previous cultures (more EEF rich) in Central Europe. Those Corded Ware Centum who went in Baltics met only WHG/ANE. They apparently left some Centum language traces which is the reason of your question.
    4) Corded Ware Satems who followed Centums somewhat mixed with them, somewhat pushed them out of East of Baltic Sea, created modern Balts and Slavs ancestors. Obviously modern Balts have more WHG than Germanics, based on 2 and 3.

    @Aberdeen
    Theorists speculate that some Germanic Parent Language was spoken before Grimm's law.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_Parent_Language
    But in general it is tricky about Baltic loans in Germanic before Grimm's law. I think Grimm's law is used as somewhat marker to define Germanic origin of word. So, word coming before Grimm's and being IE, would be seen as default Germanic word, since Grimm's law is applied and makes it Germanic :) I hope Taranis can correct me here and shed some more light for us.

    @All
    Btw - the example of Klaips could be considered an example of reverse Grimm's law in action :)
    Klaips -> Hlaifs
    *k > h [x] (Grimm's)
    *p > f [ɸ] (Grimm's)
    Funny :) Because it is surely Hlaifs -> Klaips, not Klaips -> Hlaifs. Grimm's law is dated 500 BC. Too early for Gothic borrowing. I also know that Germanic f routinely produced p in later borrowings from German into Latvian. We have neither h or f sound in our old words (hokejs, futbols, ferma, foto, hologramma, these types of words only have H, F in Latvian). So 'h' before 'l' gets 'k'. And 'f' gets 'p'. 'H' before 'i' turns into no sound, like in Hilmis - Ilmis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arvistro View Post
    @Kristiina
    Couple of points/speculations:
    1) I need to check on what basis they believe Germanic was spoken there before Baltic. My best educated guess is because some very archaic toponymes in Baltic lands or loan words in Finnish carry Centum not Satem features.
    2) Based on this guess apparently first Corded Ware folk had Centum features in language, but autosomally did not differ much from next wave Satem.
    3) Those Corded Ware Centum, who went in Germany/Scandinavia and created modern Germanic folk, mixed on their way with previous cultures (more EEF rich) in Central Europe. Those Corded Ware Centum who went in Baltics met only WHG/ANE. They apparently left some Centum language traces which is the reason of your question.
    4) Corded Ware Satems who followed Centums somewhat mixed with them, somewhat pushed them out of East of Baltic Sea, created modern Balts and Slavs ancestors. Obviously modern Balts have more WHG than Germanics, based on 2 and 3.

    @Aberdeen
    Theorists speculate that some Germanic Parent Language was spoken before Grimm's law.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_Parent_Language
    But in general it is tricky about Baltic loans in Germanic before Grimm's law. I think Grimm's law is used as somewhat marker to define Germanic origin of word. So, word coming before Grimm's and being IE, would be seen as default Germanic word, since Grimm's law is applied and makes it Germanic :) I hope Taranis can correct me here and shed some more light for us.

    @All
    Btw - the example of Klaips could be considered an example of reverse Grimm's law in action :)
    Klaips -> Hlaifs
    *k > h [x] (Grimm's)
    *p > f [ɸ] (Grimm's)
    Funny :) Because it is surely Hlaifs -> Klaips, not Klaips -> Hlaifs. Grimm's law is dated 500 BC. Too early for Gothic borrowing. I also know that Germanic f routinely produced p in later borrowings from German into Latvian. We have neither h or f sound in our old words (hokejs, futbols, ferma, foto, hologramma, these types of words only have H, F in Latvian). So 'h' before 'l' gets 'k'. And 'f' gets 'p'. 'H' before 'i' turns into no sound, like in Hilmis - Ilmis.
    I'm no linguist but if I had to guess what the German Parental Language would be, my guess would be Proto-Latvian. But of course when one considers how many non-IE words there are in German, I think non-IE languages must have also figured prominently in the development of German, which is the main reason I don't believe the Corded Ware folk spoke an IE language.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    First off, interesting thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by arvistro View Post
    Let's take examples from Green's work based on which Kurtland made categorical point:
    Gothic has "hlaifs" -> hleb? chleb? -> Latvian has "klaips"
    Gothic has "hilmis" -> shlem? helm? -> Prussian has "ilmis"
    Gothic has "katils" -> kotel? -> Prussian "katils", Latvian "katls"
    Gothic has "stikls" -> steklo? szklo? -> Prussian "stiklo", Latvian "stikls"
    The sound change /f/ > /p/ is extremely improbable. In my opinion these were borrowed directly from Germanic (if they were borrowed in that direction), without Slavic mediation. One peculiar case, however, is this:

    - about Lithuanian "kepalas", Latvian "klaips" versus English "loaf", Gothic "hlaifs", German "Laib". In my opinion the connection here is between Baltic (or Proto-Balto-Slavic) and Pre-Grimm Germanic. In contrast, the Slavic cognate, e.g. (Polish "chleb" Russian "khleb"/"хлеб") is clearly (re-?)borrowed later from Germanic, after Grimm's Law.

    In my opinion, a good case can be made for this "Pre-Proto-Germanic" (or "Germanic Parent Language"), because Celtic (and Scytho-Sarmatian) loanwords in Germanic are generally affected by Grimm's law. What I see as controversial about it is the timing: Euler (2006) postulates that the change of Grimm's Law only occured in the 1st century BC, which is too late in my opinion. Conversely, there's also the opinion that Grimm's Law was a result of the adaptation of Indo-European by speakers of a pre-Indo-European language (Kentel over here on Eupedia forwarded that opinion, as have others), but in my opinion this is far too early, and you do not explain how Celtic and Scytho-Sarmatian loanwords could be affected by it.

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    Could be :) I am still looking for a Gothic loan in Baltic that would have a chance of being transmitted via Slavic, as in where Slavic version of that word is closer than Baltic. Either we dont have relevant cognates, word was only borrowed into Slavic not Baltic, or there appears no mediation.
    Asilus (Goth) - Asilas (Lith) - Osel (Slav), etc.

    About "Grimm's Law was a result of the adaptation of Indo-European by speakers of a pre-Indo-European language". I think for Germanics this could have happened several times in the history. Who knows when was the last time?

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    since the goths where neighbours of the balts, then how much of Gothic was baltic influenced.
    With Slavic coming much later, logically balto-gothic ( if there is such a term ) would be the initial foundation of gothic.

    With gothic also establishing itself in old-prussia , then it makes sense that there was a balto-gothic mix happening in the iron age on the baltic coast
    có che un pòpoło no 'l defende pi ła só łéngua el xe prónto par èser s'ciavo

    when a people no longer dares to defend its language it is ripe for slavery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taranis View Post
    First off, interesting thread!



    The sound change /f/ > /p/ is extremely improbable. In my opinion these were borrowed directly from Germanic (if they were borrowed in that direction), without Slavic mediation. One peculiar case, however, is this:

    - about Lithuanian "kepalas", Latvian "klaips" versus English "loaf", Gothic "hlaifs", German "Laib". In my opinion the connection here is between Baltic (or Proto-Balto-Slavic) and Pre-Grimm Germanic. In contrast, the Slavic cognate, e.g. (Polish "chleb" Russian "khleb"/"хлеб") is clearly (re-?)borrowed later from Germanic, after Grimm's Law.

    In my opinion, a good case can be made for this "Pre-Proto-Germanic" (or "Germanic Parent Language"), because Celtic (and Scytho-Sarmatian) loanwords in Germanic are generally affected by Grimm's law. What I see as controversial about it is the timing: Euler (2006) postulates that the change of Grimm's Law only occured in the 1st century BC, which is too late in my opinion. Conversely, there's also the opinion that Grimm's Law was a result of the adaptation of Indo-European by speakers of a pre-Indo-European language (Kentel over here on Eupedia forwarded that opinion, as have others), but in my opinion this is far too early, and you do not explain how Celtic and Scytho-Sarmatian loanwords could be affected by it.
    If you think there was an IE Parental German language, why do you think it took so long for that language to evolve into a language with a lot of non-IE language influences? Do you think that would suggest that the Parental German language must have existed for a time in a lightly populated and fairly isolated area, such as Scandinavia, before evolving into German? And do you think that the non-IE aspects of German call into question the idea of Corded Ware folk speaking an IE language, given that German must have evolved somewhere in what was formerly Corded Ware territory?

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    I went through the list of Gothic loanwords in
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-S...c_and_Germanic

    Of all those there was none in Lithuanian that would be mediated via proto-Slavic (form of Slavic at times of Gothic). Wine and Vinegar were mediated to Lithuanian via Polish at times of Commonwealth.
    For Latvian Wine and Bowl could be proto-Slavic borrowings: vīns, bļoda (proto-Slavic *wīna, *bjuda seems closer than Gothic *wein, *biuda). I still don't believe it was mediated in Gothic times, rather in times of early contacts with Polotsk.

    But to be fair to all sides, there were little words in that list that would be borrowed directly from Gothic: donkey and smoke (asilas/asilus; smaka/smakka). These 2 plus 4 words from above is all known to me potential Baltic borrowings from Goths. Plus Goths seem to have borrowed Ganisan (to grow healthy) from Baltic forms similar to Latvian ganīšana, ganīt - to shepherd. Kost (to bite) seems to be Baltic borowing, but rather old one, before Goths.

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    balti kings

    Quote Originally Posted by arvistro View Post
    I went through the list of Gothic loanwords in
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-S...c_and_Germanic

    Of all those there was none in Lithuanian that would be mediated via proto-Slavic (form of Slavic at times of Gothic). Wine and Vinegar were mediated to Lithuanian via Polish at times of Commonwealth.
    For Latvian Wine and Bowl could be proto-Slavic borrowings: vīns, bļoda (proto-Slavic *wīna, *bjuda seems closer than Gothic *wein, *biuda). I still don't believe it was mediated in Gothic times, rather in times of early contacts with Polotsk.

    But to be fair to all sides, there were little words in that list that would be borrowed directly from Gothic: donkey and smoke (asilas/asilus; smaka/smakka). These 2 plus 4 words from above is all known to me potential Baltic borrowings from Goths. Plus Goths seem to have borrowed Ganisan (to grow healthy) from Baltic forms similar to Latvian ganīšana, ganīt - to shepherd. Kost (to bite) seems to be Baltic borowing, but rather old one, before Goths.
    *Just adding something: "Esel" is Norwegian for donkey. "Å esle" means to equip or prepare. "Gjeter" is Norwegian for a person shepherding animals. The verb is "å gjete ." In swedish, "å bjuda på vin" means to offer wine to someone. Basically the Baltic languages seems to me very far away from the slavic and the finno-ugric, but also far away from the Scandinavian. I do find the similarity between Baltic names and old gothic names quite interesting, and of course one of the gothic chieftain clans migrating into Europe was called Balto. Whether the name gave rise to Baltic sea and Baltic states I am not sure but it seems very logical. One of the branches of the goths migrated into the Baltic area from Gotland island or/and from Sweden. The historical account from the roman age historians say there were 3 gothic tribes in Gotland and several in mainland Sweden. We know for sure that some of those branches split into wisigoths and ostrogoths, settling large parts of Europe from the time just before the viking age. For example the Alaric/Liuvigild/Sisebut/Aoric lineage of Balto(plural in latin Balti), ruled Toledo in Spain until later romans and islamic expansions made the rule too difficult. There are many Words from gothic known, that are not found in norse Language and later Scandinavian, meaning that gothic must have been quite different from norse already into the medievals. Maybe the extremizations of this difference gave rise to the later difference between latvian/lithuanian vs the scandinavian languages. Then of course the modern scandinavian languages have also gotten a large impact from old latin Church language and from french. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visigot...#List_of_kings
    Last edited by BaltoHeritageNorway; 14-03-15 at 05:24. Reason: addendum

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