GOOTS REVISITED.

Back in 2006 I had a post about calling a baby’s pacifier a “goots”; there was much discussion, which eventually focused on German dialects (before the thread had to be closed due to spammers). Now Rachel Ramey writes to say she ran across the post while trying to find out about “goodgie,” the term her mother learned as a child growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania:

The family Mom learned this from spoke Granisch, which we have since learned is actually “Krainisch,” also known as Göttschee or Göttscheerisch. It’s a Germanic language heavily influenced by Slovene, spoken in a very small area of Slovenia, near Croatia. If “goots” was German (or some derivative thereof), then surely it’s related to my Granisch “gootsi” or “goodgie,” right?

Makes sense to me, and I wonder what the current batch of LH readers makes of it: do you know the term “goots(i)” or “goodgie,” and/or the German term that presumably lies behind it? (Here‘s the Wikipedia article on Gottschee, a formerly German-speaking area around Kočevje in southern Slovenia, which I had been unaware of.)

Comments

  1. The article was confusing as to who was being deported where.

  2. Duden has this:

    Gutsel, das; -s, – [Vkl. zu gleichbed. Guts, eigtl. = Gutes] (landsch.): Bonbon.

    and also the Southern German form Gutsle. The current word for pacifier is Schnuller.

  3. Grumbly Stu: Semantically the word looks perfect, but phonologically the problem is the missing “l” in both English words. In the original thread the same (“possibly Swabian”) form (“Gutsel”) was brought up. I’m no German dialectologist, but allow me to pretend I’m one:
    Swabian makes heavy use of a “le” (plural: “la”) diminutive, and within Swabian as well as in neighboring dialects it could well have had a different suffix: for instance, Bavarian has an
    -e diminutive, and a form */gutse/ could account for “Goots” as well as “Goodgie”.
    Significantly, the Gottschee dialect is/was (?there can’t be many speakers left, sadly…) a variety of Bavarian.

  4. One Wiki click leads to another: de.wiki has a page of links to entries about language islands. Many of the entries have parallels in English.
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kategorie:Sprachinsel

  5. Here‘s the direct link, and thanks—I love that stuff.

  6. Etienne, trailing /l/ is also a common way to form diminuitives in German; cf. Mädel, Dirndl, bissel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diminutive#German tells me it’s specifically Bavarian and Austrian, but there are certainly enough examples in the standard language that I didn’t have to think very hard even as a speaker of a more Northern German.

  7. Oh, one of those Sprachinseln is Asiago, which they used to sell at the Italian cheese shop on Sullivan St. (Greenwich Village) across from my apt. It’s a strong-cheddarlike cheese, pretty good if you like that sort of thing (food). I hadn’t realised it’s Venetian.

  8. Speakers of down-South variants of German must have special genetic equipment for pronouncing /l/ (not /el/) after certain consonants, as in Dirndl. Everybody can manage Dirndl more or less, but you can always tell whether it has sprung from the lips of a native variant speaker – there’s an extra, audible quantum foam or turbulence that Northerners can’t do. I have to concentrate real hard to pronounce fensterln at all.

  9. Both Fensterln and its pronunciation are best avoided, after a certain age.

  10. Here’s a link to a digitalized dictionary of Gottschee German from 1869:
    http://www.dlib.si/v2/Details.aspx?URN=URN:NBN:SI:DOC-3RJS3T7Z
    Anyone want to have a look if it has ‘goots’? I don’t have the time at the moment…
    And there are still speakers (at least there were in 2001): the Austrian writer Karl-Markus Gauss wrote a book (Die sterbenden Europäer, Vienna 2001) about minorities in Europe, went to Gottschee too and found a number of elderly speakers. The book, by the way, is very good.

  11. David Marjanović says:

    /ˌgʊdʃigʊdʃiˈguː/~/ˌkʊtʃikʊtʃiˈkuː/ is a cutesy noise made to babies while poking them.

    Swabian makes heavy use of a “le” (plural: “la”) diminutive

    I suppose the plural is rather “ler”, which is still strange, but not that much.

    Bavarian has an
    -e diminutive

    What? No. Are you thinking of the -i nickname suffix shared with the rest of German, English, and even Hungarian? It turns to some kind of -[ɛ] in eastern Austria.
    The Bavarian diminutive is -/(ɐ)l/ in Middle Bavarian, -/(ɐ)lɛ/ in South Bavarian (southernmost Bavaria, most of Tyrol, Carinthia, Styria, southern Burgenland).

    there’s an extra, audible quantum foam or turbulence that Northerners can’t do.

    Took me several minutes to figure out what you’re talking about: the /d/ is voiceless. So are /b/ and /g/, and the /z/-/s/ contrast (reisen/reißen) is one of length with an optional bit of lenis-fortis added in. Southerners don’t do voiced obstruents.
    (…Except /v/, which somehow behaves like an approximant. For some people, it actually is the approximant [ʋ]; for others like me, it’s articulated as a fricative, but it’s no nasal that there isn’t actually any friction.)
    I suppose the turbulence is something like 10 milliseconds of voiceless [l]. D̥evoice your lenes, and it’ll come automatically. Perhaps listen to some Mandarin first; their lenes, too, are all voiceless.
    Naturally, this is also how Gottschee can be Kočevje, how BCSM krompir, Slovene krumpir and Hungarian krumpli can descend from Styrian Grundbirn[e] (“ground pear”; = Erdapfel “earth apple”; = potato), and why “shower” in BSCM is t.

    I have to concentrate real hard to pronounce fensterln at all.

    Why? There is no consonant in front of that /l/ at all. It’s [ˈfɛnstɐln] – or anyway [ˈfẽ̙nstɐln] in the actual dialects.

  12. David Marjanović says:

    Sometime I’ll have to edit all those Wikipedia pages about the High German consonant shift to properly present this across-the-board devoicing of lenes. All they present nowadays are the /d/-to-/t/ shift, which went all the way to the fortis because the /θ/-to-/d/ shift was pushing from behind, and irregular Old Bavarian and Old Alemannic spellings with k and p (…oh, and possibly the word pizza, which could be cognate to bit(e)). Alas, I fear I’ll have to Ignore All Rules in order to get this bit of Original Research in, no matter how obvious it is to a speaker of High German without a Low German substratum, and then somebody vonnö Waterkant will slap “citation needed” on it or revert it altogether.

    poking

    “Slowly tickling with one finger” would be a better term.

    something like 10 milliseconds of voiceless [l]

    (At last the idle hours spent on and around the Wikipedia article about the Navajo language about five years ago pay off. Har, har. Yes, Navajo has voiceless lenis plosives and affricates.)

  13. Alas, I fear I’ll have to Ignore All Rules in order to get this bit of Original Research in
    Is there really no published material on this?

  14. Etienne says:

    David: I don’t know whether the -e and -i suffixes are distinct endings or variants of one (just pretending to be a German dialectologist, remember?), but a form */gutsi/ would be an even better match than */gutse/ if GOODGIE in English is the resulting form: as for GOOTS, it might go back to a related form with a weaker final vowel (schwa?) (which could have been dropped in the course of borrowing the term).
    Back to my role: the /l/ diminutive actually once existed in English: cf. CORN versus KERNEL, although of course it is no longer productive.

  15. Gutsle was used in the corner of SW Germany I grew up in (Stuttgart Region), but as far as I can remember, it always refered to cookies/biscuits, not hard candy.

  16. D̥evoice your lenes, and it’ll come automatically.
    WTF does that mean, in 25 words or less ? What is that little cyclomorphic subscript ?

  17. Does it mean “pretend to say ‘d’ but keep the vocal cords turned off” ?

  18. David Marjanović says:

    Is there really no published material on this?

    Probably not in this context.
    Four years ago I tried to find out if anything had been published about the fortis-lenis contrast of Bavarian-Austrian dialects (those that have it) or indeed Austrian Standard German*. Several hours in Google brought up nothing.
    Admittedly, I’m an armchair linguist. I don’t know in which journals to look, for instance.
    * …because there’s no voicing, no aspiration, and any length contrast is tiny and optional if I’m not imagining it in the first place. There isn’t any glottalization either. What is it, then? I think greater pressure from the lungs in the fortes, but while I’ve seen the speculation mentioned for lenis-fortis contrasts in general, I didn’t find anything specific. Nobody seems to have tried to measure anything here.

    Does it mean “pretend to say ‘d’ but keep the vocal cords turned off” ?

    Exactly. The ring underneath is the IPA diacritic for “voiceless”.
    Fortis and lenis are cover terms used when you don’t want to commit to whether the feature used for contrast is voicing, aspiration, length or whatever.

    the /l/ diminutive actually once existed in English: cf. CORN versus KERNEL

    Thought so! Thanks. :-)

  19. Stu: just sing along.

  20. David Marjanović says:

    Well, yeah, if you can stand it. *facepalm*
    You’ll notice that /b d g/ are basically audible only as pauses because there’s no voicing. (There would be an audible release, except the recording is too bad to preserve it.)

  21. Thanx, David and lukas. One is a a martyr to notation (“orthography”) when the real thing is not often heard. “Bin i deppert” says it all from a cosmopolitan perspective !

  22. FWIW, in my experience (my kids and two generations worth of extended family that I’ve hung around with) toddlers do not say Ls (not l nor ɫ, though ɫ shows up earlier because they don’t speak French) until long after they have stopped using passies/plugs/nookies/soothies/binkies/goots (except at night.).
    So its absence doesn’t mean much, it would be quickly lost in forming a word which the very young would lose. It would be borderline cruel to lateral approximants in baby talk, wouldn’t it?
    I can see both good and somewhat less admirable reasons for using this sound in diminuitives, however. Spending a few hours with three year-olds will make an average English speaker never want to hear a long-E again.

  23. Trond Engen says:

    Up here they use goats as pacifiers. Well, some do. English architects, mostly.
    (…oh, and possibly the word pizza, which could be cognate to bit(e))
    Ooh, I like that. Greek, them Turkic, then general Balkanese and East Mediterranean pita from Venetian?

  24. Some goats* are too loud and emotional to pacify anyone.
    *Holly

  25. Styrian Grundbirn[e] (“ground pear”; = Erdapfel “earth apple”; = potato)
    I’m sure that the guy who taught me the word “Grundbirn” (which sounded more or less like “Grom-pern” when he said it in his exaggerated drawn-out way) was from somewhere around Trier (and said it came from there).

  26. David: for Austrian, there’s this paper. There is also a recent paper by Guido Seiler in the Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics (I think) where he argues, rather convincingly to my mind, that the fortis/lenis contrast in most Upper German dialects is simply one of quantity.

  27. void: it’s complicated.

  28. Aha. At the time I actually thought he was saying “Grundbeere”, but somebody here later told me it must have been “Grundbirn-”. Now I’m not sure.
    By the way, it seems that “Kartoffel” is related (through Italian) to “truffle”. Though OnlEtymD maybe doesn’t get the details right?

  29. David Marjanović says:

    for Austrian, there’s this paper

    Thank you! I’ll try to find out if I have university access… I don’t understand what “spread glottis” is supposed to mean.
    I’m very surprised, however, that they claim voiced plosives occur between vowels. I’ve never* encountered that, except as a symptom of a cold. This goes very far. Most, perhaps all such dialects optionally turn (voiceless) /b/ into (fully voiced) /v/ between vowels. This happens most but not all of the time; whether it’s done depends on the mood of the speaker. So, we’d expect intermediates – [b], [β] – to crop up from time to time, when somebody speaks faster than they can decide. Indeed this happens, but it’s remarkably rare.
    The first page is also imprecise when calls Spanish, French, Russian and Hungarian “true voice languages”. Yes, they all have utterance-initial fully voiced plosives, but they don’t use the same kind of contrast: the voiceless consonants of the latter three are phonetically fortes (as are those of Japanese), while those of Spanish are lenes (like the unaspirated voiceless ones of Hindi and Thai and Mandarin). Spanish alone of these four examples uses a pure voice contrast**; the others add a fortis-lenis contrast on top of it (…OK, the French /k/ may not count).
    * Never mind Carinthian with its Slovene consonant system.
    ** And it augments this contrast at every occasion, turning its /b d g/ into approximants everywhere except utterance-initially and behind nasals.

    There is also a recent paper by Guido Seiler in the Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics (I think) where he argues, rather convincingly to my mind, that the fortis/lenis contrast in most Upper German dialects is simply one of quantity.

    This is the case in Switzerland, where the “lenes” are short voiceless lenes and the “fortes” are long voiceless lenes. That length contrast is very salient, like in Italian. At least some of these dialects even have word-initial long consonants, because they map imported fortes onto their own long consonants – in the Thurgau in Switzerland, backen and packen are a minimal pair for length of /b/; that dialect has been investigated in great detail in several publications.
    This is not found in Bavarian-Austrian dialects. Instead, there’s a length contrast (though less salient than in Italian) within the fortes. My dialect lacks phonemic vowel length and distinguishes lenes, short fortes, and somewhat lengthened fortes (which don’t occur word-initially). It’s a three-way contrast.

    void: it’s complicated.

    Absolutely!!!

    By the way, it seems that “Kartoffel” is related (through Italian) to “truffle”.

    Yes, and it’s even possible that Erdapfel is a folk etymology of this. (But that would make French pomme de terre a bit mysterious, I think.)
    Confusion between Beere “berry” and Birne “pear” occurs elsewhere, for instance in the surnames Birnbaumer and Bierbaumer – the latter implies a beer tree…

  30. Ooh, I like that. Greek, them Turkic, then general Balkanese and East Mediterranean pita from Venetian?
    According to Klein פת (patt) means a morsel of bread in Hebrew. He derives it from פתת (patat), “whence also Aramaic פתה (pita), a morsel of bread, piece of bread.
    In a separate entry, Klein says that the verb patat means to break (esp. bread) into pieces, and then provides cognates in Syriac, Arabic and Ethiopic. It is a hapax legomenon in the Bible, occurring in Leviticus 2:6 in the infinitive.

  31. Is there any chance that pomme de terre is a calque of Erdapfel?

  32. Tom Recht says:

    Speaking of Germanic diminutives, Yiddish has a diminutive suffix -le whose plural form is -lax (as in kinderlax, little kids). I’ve always wondered about this plural morpheme, since forming your plurals with a velar strikes me as an odd thing for an Indo-European (or Semitic for that matter) language to do. Can anyone shed light on its origin?

  33. Tom Recht: The question has been asked many times on Mendele, but I can’t find a clear answer. What does seem clear is that it is by origin a collective, not a plural as such (note that kinder is already plural). One poster compares it to the now-silent -h of German Vieh ‘cattle’, (cf. OE feoh ‘cattle, money’ > ModE fee), which is fikh in Yiddish. FWIW, the YIVO spelling is not lakh but lekh, who knows why, though [lax] is certainly the usual pronunciation.
    I wonder if there’s a link to Indic lakh [with aspirated k] ‘a lot, 100,000′, cognate with PGmc lakhs ‘salmon’, Yiddish laks > ModE lox, presumably from the vast size of salmon runs, or possibly from the large number of spots on their skins (thus Pokorny).

  34. David Marjanović says:

    One poster compares it to the now-silent -h of German Vieh ‘cattle’, (cf. OE feoh ‘cattle, money’ > ModE fee), which is fikh in Yiddish.

    Are there any other examples of this alleged morpheme?
    BTW, /x/ not derived from the High German consonant shift has dropped behind long vowels in Standard German and central and northern dialects, with a few puzzling exceptions like hoch “high” that I guess could be due to dialect mixture, but it is preserved in the spelling as the famous “silent h” that marks vowel length. In southeastern dialects, there are no long vowels, so the /x/ has stayed, and “animal” (singular, not collective!) is /fix/ in my dialect and many others.

    Indic lakh [with aspirated k] ‘a lot, 100,000′, cognate with PGmc lakhs ‘salmon’

    :-o I had never noticed…

  35. David Marjanović says:

    …and the ie in Vieh is apparently unetymological, as shown by the dialectal /i/ instead of /iɐ̯].

  36. Tom Recht says:

    The -h of Vieh is part of the lexeme, cf. Latin pecus, pecunia (PIE *pekw-).
    I wonder if there’s a link to Indic lakh [with aspirated k] ‘a lot, 100,000′
    This would be very nice, but surely the morpheme in question is just -x? Sg. -le, pl. -le-x, or -lax with the vowel lowered before a velar (a common enough process, though I have no idea if it happens elsehwere in Yiddish).

  37. David: “animal” (singular, not collective!) is /fix/ in my dialect and many others.
    You mean the word Viech, plural Viecher ? That’s prominent in (parts of ?) the Rheinland.

  38. Viecher is often used to refer to smallish, bothersome critters (!) like gnats, flies, rats.

  39. FWIW, Yiddish has both fi and fikh, which I think are dialect variants.

  40. I too have wondered about the origin of /lax/ as the plural of the /le/ suffix: let me play the germanic scholar again:
    If the variation between /fi/ and /fix/ in Yiddish (by the way: the English cognate is FEE, which is a great way to introduce students to semantic change) reflects earlier variation between final zero and /x/ in other items, I wonder whether the “plural” /lax/ arose through a process of “exaptation”, i.e. a case where variation in form (/le/ versus /lax/) which at first lacks any clear semantic function is subsequently used by speakers to mark a clear semantic distinction (/le/ singular, /lax/ plural).
    If diminutive /le/ was originally uninflected for number, this would explain why this /x/ pluralizer only appears there: for other nouns there would have been no need to create a plural ending out of the /x/ variant in such pairs as /fi/-/fix/, Yiddish already having several plural-marking suffixes.
    That just leaves the variation in vowel quality to be accounted for…ideas?

  41. David Marjanović says:

    I have now read the paper (and others about German and about voice/aspiration contrasts in the same issue). Well.
    All speakers were from Vienna and its surroundings. Bad choice. The eastern Austrian dialects have completely lost the fortis-lenis distinction, leaving only the length contrast in place. When trying to speak Standard German, such people regularly fail to restore the contrast (note fig. 10, which shows a complete lack of distinction in the amplitude of the release) and/or grab at anything they can think of: aspiration, length, occasionally even voicing. This, I suppose, explains the incredibly wide variation in voice-onset time that was measured for the fortes.
    I’m surprised at the instances where lenes became fricatives (usually voiced) or approximants. That strikes me as a feature of very slurry speech (by extremely tired people for instance), and I’d expect it to jump right to the extreme (nasalized approximants) rather than encompassing intermediates (voiced plosives, voiced fricatives). OK, as mentioned, the dialects turn /b/ into /v/ between vowels (…strangely, the authors claim [β] rather than [v]; maybe that’s what happens somewhere in Bavaria – Bavaria is what the vowels in their transcriptions suggest), and in some words this can creep into the standard, but the example they show is wieder.
    Maybe it can also be argued that some of the examples are badly chosen. The word Kir is so rare that I have forgotten what it means.
    The authors are clearly right to note that usually all members of a plosive cluster are released in Austria, unlike in northern Germany (or in English). But to call them “aspirated or affricated”… Their sonogram of Sekte is interesting. They interpret it as [sɛ] pause [çtʰɛ] and note that there is no release burst that leads to the [ç]. I wonder if the pause is actually a [g̊], during which the speaker noticed he wasn’t differentiating the fortes from the lenes and overcompensated by making the release too loud, resulting perhaps in a bidental fricative. (The overcompensation stayed on, explaining the [tʰ].) I cannot for the life of me imagine that the speaker actually aimed at *Sechte instead of Sekte.
    It’s also not surprising that they find the most aspiration for word-initial /k/. That’s the one that survived the High German consonant shift and is loud in the standard and affricated or turned to a [kh] cluster in the South Bavarian dialects, so people are exposed to such sounds on TV. (There are weather announcers from Carinthia or so whose Wolkendecken, “cloud covers”, are [ˈvɔlkhəŋdɛkhəŋ].)
    Somewhere the authors mention that Standard German allows all four combinations (short vowel + fortis, long vowel + lenis, long vowel + fortis, occasionally short vowel + lenis) while “Bavarian” allows only two (short vowel + fortis, long vowel + lenis). But their examples are both transcribed with long vowels, and they fail to mention that there are long and short fortes.
    In the conclusions, the authors conclude that the contrast is showing signs of trending toward neutralization. The other way around: their test speakers have a natively neutralized contrast and tried to restore it in order to speak Standard German into the microphone.
    The last sentence of the conclusion says that “the Austrian dialects” have lost the /b/-/p/ and the /d/-/t/ contrast. That’s oversimplified.
    Footnote 14 claims that Bavarian vowel contrast only for length and not for tenseness. What? Where in Bavaria? Not anywhere in Austria in any case, where the opposite holds.

    You mean the word Viech, plural Viecher ? That’s prominent in (parts of ?) the Rheinland.

    Yes. I don’t know why it’s so widespread in this form.

  42. Tom Recht says:

    Etienne, I like your exaptation theory; I also wonder if there’s any evidence for a semantic difference in variants like fi~fix (or in other such pairs if they exist), i.e. the second being used as plural of the first. If so, plural -x could have spread from there.
    That just leaves the variation in vowel quality to be accounted for…ideas?
    I think that’s the easy part, actually – vowel lowering before a dorsal consonant is a pretty widespread and phonetically natural phenomenon.

  43. Which is perhaps why the YIVO standard writes -lekh, as I noted earlier.

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