Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Lexember, Day 06: cronu

I set out today to showcase and discuss a small but bigger-than-you’d-think class of words in Gothic Romance that can be traced back equally to Latin and Gothic. That is, their forms are similar enough and a few sound changes align in the right way that the resulting word would be the same ragardless of which branch it came from. This is compounded by the “word game” culture of the speakers of Bad Romance and Italian Gothic (which, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, were spoken in tandem by mostly bilingual speakers in a small city in northern Italy from the 12th to the 17th century), where jocular swapping of the occasional vowel often gave rise to permanent hybrid forms (cf. voqua ‘water’). 

In addition to cronu, a few others are veru ‘man’ (cf. Latin vir, Gothic waír, both from PIE *wiHrós), ezja ‘her’ (cf. Latin ea, Gothic ija), dreombra ‘to dream’ (cf. Latin dormīre ‘to sleep’, Gothic dráumjan ‘to dream’), and lôgura (cf. Latin lavāre ‘to wash’, Gothic lauga ‘laundry’).

However, before I got through making the above panel for cronu, I went for a trip down the proverbial rabbit-hole, trying to figure out the best way to derive a deadjectival (adverbial) suffix (‘‑ly’). Romance languages pretty universally use the suffix ‑mente from Latin mēns ‘mind’, and while it has an interesting semantic history, it wasn’t where I wanted to go with Gothic Romance. Germanic languages are a little less uniform, but a plurality of them use some derivation of ‑līk, from ProtoGermanic līką ‘body’. Now, a reasonable person would just look for a good derivation of a word that means ‘way, manner’, and for a moment I almost used ‑mo, cf. modus, quomodo, &c. But at the last minute, it occurred to me that another merger was at hand: mēns ‘mind’, līką ‘body’ – the obvious bridge to that gap is ‘heart’. 

The word ‘heart’ itself is another mixed word, croth (cf. Latin cor, with a stem-final d that gets lost in the nominative, and Gothic haírtō), but I wanted it to remain a little bit removed from the sound shifts applying to the full word, so after some fiddling around I settled on ‑cre from an earlier ‑core.

Then there’s the use of the genitive where in Romance languages we might find the “partative de,” which I’ve been noodling around with, but haven’t used in practice yet. This brought up the issue of the declension itself. I don’t want Gothic Romance to go too heavy on the inflections, but I thought it would at least be funny to steal back the genitive plural suffix from Old Valthungian which stole it from Latin to begin with. Latin ‑ārum and ‑ōrum became  Old Valthungian ‑aaru and ‑ouru,  giving way to Italian Gothic ‑aro and eventually Gothic Romance ‑ro. So **cron‑ro, but n and r are mortal enemies in Gothic Romance, and a persistent rule instantly separates them with a buffer d, which is how we end up with crondro for ‘of the horns’.

If that’s not enough excitement for one day, there’s also the unusual choice of Latin solitus  for the base of ‘usual’, which, with an unstressed vowel deletion, becomes soltus, which is when I decided to make good on my ruminating over causing a shift of VlC → VuC. An intermediate **soutu in Early Gothic Romance easily gave way to sûtu, plus our new ‑cre ending and we have a nice word for ‘usually’ as well. 

And with that, I might still make it in by midnight!

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