Saturday, October 05, 2013

New Gothic manuscript ...

Back in the summer, I heard that a new Gothic text had been discovered and published in an Italian journal. The article is this: "Gothica Bononiensia: Analisi linguistica e filologica di un nuovo documento",  Aevum, 87 (2013), 113-155.

I raced to the library to see the materials only to find that the issue wasn't in. Still isn't. I finally ordered it through inter-library loan. In the meantime, key info is available online, with a transcription and black and white image here, a more newsy report including the image in this post here, and a pretty clearly annotated version here.

The basic story is that four pages of manuscript of an early (6th c.) version of Augustine's City of God are a palimpsest, a manuscript where old material was scraped off for use for a new manuscript. The underlying text turns out to be Gothic, mostly stuff that wasn't known before. It's not part of the Gothic Bible per se, but rather a collection of snippets from various books. A lot of the excitement is about the new words and word forms attested, like atdraga 'pull down' in the image. (The Gothic word has been colored to make it stand out.) We had at as a preposition and prefix and dragan, but not this word. A noun common in Germanic is the ancestor of maiden. A form magaþs was reconstructed for Gothic (e.g, in Lehmann's Gothic Etymological Dictionary) based on a derivationally related form found in the earlier corpus. It's now directly attested.

In glancing through the new material, nothing jumps out at me as phonologically or morphologically surprising, but one thing I haven't seen talked about is this: The little bits of Gothic we have are almost entirely from one book, the Codex Argenteus. That means we have precious little variation ... just a few differences within the manuscript. We don't know much of anything of substance about dialectal variation, historical change, etc. beyond that. But now we suddenly have a few parallel passages. Here's a bit of Luke 10:18 from the Codex:
 qaþ þan du im: gasaƕ Satanan swe lauhmunja driusandan us himina
Here's the form in the Bologna manuscript:
bi þanei f(rauj)a qaþ: sahv satanan swe lauhmunja dri[u]sandan us himina
The differences aren't too big -- just a slightly different formulation in the first clause. The Codex has '[he] said to them' and the second has 'the lord said'. But it's very cool that we now have some variation. Could be that this stuff is translated independently from Wulfila's version, using another source, but it could show us things about Gothic syntax.

Can't wait to see the full article and what specialists do with the new data.

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