Crimean gothic

The phonology of Crimean Gothic is both the primary avenue of investigation into the language and the greatest source of consternation. The difficulty stems from the manner in which the linguistic data was gathered and transmitted. Interpretation of the phonology of the corpus as received suffers from three basic problems:

1. the informant: Whichever of the two gentlemen from the Crimea provided the linguistic data, he was either a Greek by birth, or a native speaker of Crimean Gothic more competent in Greek than in his own native tongue. In either scenario, one may be certain that the pronunciation of Crimean Gothic words was colored by some degree of interference from Greek phonology of the region and period.

2. the fieldworker: Busbecq himself was known to be competent in several languages. Nevertheless, his native language presumably colored his understanding of the sounds he heard. In addition, as is clear from the letter, Busbecq had already formed preconceptions as to the nature of the language and its possible origin. This, coupled with his competence in other languages, perhaps resulted in his amendment of certain words to conform with those of languages he knew and to which he believed the language of the informants to be related

3. the transmission: Busbecq’s original letter appears to have suffered from both scribal emendation and error, introducing a certain degree of uncertainty in some instances as to what it was that Busbecq intially wrote.

Corrections which may be due to the last point have been touched upon in the preceding section. Below we discuss issues related to the informant’s linguistic skills and Busbecq’s own skills and practices.



ada egg.

ael n.m.(u?) stone.  Probably aal (see).

*aal n.m.(u?) stone.

alt adj.(ja) old.

ano n.w.f. hen. Possibly hano.

apel apple.

atochta adj. bad.

athe num. eight.

baar n.n. boy. Probably barn (see).

*barn n.n. boy.

bars beard.  Probably typo for bart (see).

*bart beard.

boga n.w.n. bow.

borrotsch pleasure, (desire?).

breen v.t. to roast.

broe bread. Probably typo for broet (see).

*broet bread.

bruder brother.

brunna n.w.m. well, spring.

cadariou soldier.

*criten (=kriten)

dorbiza unknown.

ea unknown.

eriten v.t. to cry, to weep.  Probably typo for criten (kriten, see) or griten.


fers n.m. man.

*fisch n. fish.

fisct n. fish. Probably typo for fisc(h) (see)

furdeithien num. forty.

fyder num. four.

*fynf num. five.

fyuf num. five. Probably typo for fynf (see).

gadelitha adj. beautiful.

galtzou unknown.

geen v.i. to go.

gira unknown.

goltz n. gold.

*griten v.t. to cry. (See kriten.)

handa n. hand.

*hano n.f. hen. (See ano.)

hazer num. one thousand.

*hiel n. health, life. See iel.

*hiel wurt itj. be well. See iel vburt.

*hieltsch adj. healthy, alive. See ieltsch.

hoef n. head. Probably typo for hoeft (see).

*hoeft n. head. (See hoef.)

hoemisclep unknown.

hus n. house, home.

ich prn. I.

ich malthata v. i said.

iel n. health, life. Possibly hiel.

iel vburt itj. be well. Probably hiel wurt.

ieltsch adj. healthy, alive. Possibly hieltsch.

ies prn. he.

ies warthata v. he made.

ingdolou unknown.

ita num. one.

kilemschkop itj. drink up! cheers!

kop n. cup.

knauen adj.m.acc. good.

kommen v.i. to come.

kor n. grain.  Probably typo for korn (see).

korn n. grain.

*kriten v.t. to cry.

lachen v.i.. to laugh.

lista adj. too little.

malthen v.t. to say.

marzus n. marriage.

*mems n. meat.

*menns n. meat.

menus n. meat. Probably typo for mem(m)s (see) or menns.

miera n. ant.

mine n. moon.

mycha n. sword.

nyne num. nine.

oeghene eyes.

plut n. blood.

reghen n. rain.

rinck n. ring.

ringo n. ring.

rintsch n. mountain.

sada num. one hundred.

salt n. salt.

schediit n. light.

schieten v.t.. to shoot (an arrow).

schlipen v.i. to sleep.

*schnos n.f. fiancée.

schuos n.f. fiancée. Probably a typo for schnos (see).

schwalth n. death.

schwester sister.

seis num. six.

seu unknown.

sevene num. seven.

siluir n. silver.singhen v.t. to sing.

stap n.f. she-goat, nanny.

statz n. land.

stega num. twenty.

stein n. star.  Probably typo for stern (see).

*stern n. star.

stul n. chair, stool.

sune n. sun.

tag n. day.

te unknown.

telich adj. foolish.

thiine num. ten.

*thiinetria num. thirteen.

*thiinetua num. twelve.

thiinita num. eleven.

thunetria num. thirteen. Probably typo for thiinetria (see).

thunetua num. twelve. Probably typo for thiinetua (see).

*thur n. door.

thurn n. door. Probably typo for thur (see).

treithyen num. thirty.

tria num. three.

tua num. two.

tzo prn. you, thou.

tzo warthata v. you made.

varthata v.t. made. Probably typo for warthata (see).

vburt v.i. may it be. Probably typo for wurt (see).

waghen n. wagon.

wara v.? unknown.

*warthata v.t. made.

*warthen v.t. to make.

wichtgata adj. white. Probably typo for witgata (see).

wingart n. vine branch.

wintch n. wind. Probably typo for wintsch (see).

*wintsch n. wind.

*witgata adj. white.

*wurt v.i. may it be.