Did Tzetzes write the first attested instance of μουνί?

By: | Post date: 2017-10-27 | Comments: 9 Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Literature, Mediaeval Greek

The first recorded instance of μουνί “cunt”, as I reported in 2010, is in the epilogue of John Tzetzes’ Theogony, written in the 1140s (based on when the patron who commissioned it was active). The next attestations are from the Entertaining Tale of Quadrupeds (1364), and the excommunication of a priest (1383).

At the time, Tasos Kaplanis pointed out that the phrase sounded too modern to be from Tzetzes himself, and wondered whether it might not be due to a later scribe.

Nick, I am not quite sure that this passage from V is not a later addition by the scribe in the 14th century.

It is not because this να γαμεί το μουνίν σου παπάς is over-colloquial or too vulgar, it is mainly because this would be the only occurrence of να + verb form (in my view, an indicative, as in modern Greek, in Kazhdan’s and TLG’s spelling, a subjunctive) in Tzetzis’s works and one of the earliest attestations of this use of να + verb form (in the place of an AGr infinitive) ever, together with those in Digenis and Glykas.

Please, correct me if I am wrong, but if this is so (and at least as regards Tzetzis’s works in the TLG this appears to be so), then it would be more possible to attribute the passage to the 14th century scribe of V than to Tzetzis himself.

I addressed those doubts at the time, but recently George Baloglou has suggested a detailed review of the vernacular Greek of the epilogue, in case it yields any clues about the date of the mention of the word itself.

As a reminder: the word comes up in the epilogue to Tzetzes’ poem, in which he shows off his language skills by giving some pleasantries with Greek translation in Cuman, Turkish, Latin, Ossetian, Arabic and Russian, and some antisemitism in Hebrew. The mention of “cunt” is in the Ossetian section:

To Alans I say in their tongue:
“Good day, my lord, my lady, where are you from?
Tapankhas mesfili khsina korthi kanda,” and so on.
(dæ ban xʷærz, mæ sfili, (æ)xsinjæ kurθi kændæ)
If an Alan lady has a priest as a boyfriend, she will hear such words:
“Aren’t you ashamed, my lady, to have a priest fuck your cunt?
(οὐκ αἰσχύνεσαι, αὐθέντριά μου, νὰ γαμῇ τὸ μουνίν σου παπᾶς;)
To farnetz kintzi mesfili kaitz fua saunge.”
(du farnitz, kintzæ mæ sfili, kajci fæ wa sawgin?)
[Literally: “Aren’t you ashamed, my lady, to have a love affair with the priest?”]

Now, the null hypothesis is that Tzetzes wrote the multilingual show-off piece. The alternative hypothesis that I rejected was that a later scribe wrote it instead.

The sentence containing the word occurs in only one manuscript; but the alternative hypothesis is easy to reject. We know that there was an epilogue to the poem from the earliest manuscript, from the late 13th century—although that manuscript decided to drop it: “We left out the entire epilogue, because it just went on too long.” We know that Tzetzes was half-Georgian himself, and had written on relations between Alans, Georgians, and Abkhaz. We know that he liked to boast about his intellectual achievements, which is why Hunger (the editor of the most recent edition of the epilogue) thought the epilogue had to be original.

And the alternative would be that an anonymous scribe, years later in the much-constricted Greek world of the 13th or 14th century, could still have summoned up knowledge of Ossetian, Cuman and Russian—with the Ossetian roughly corresponding in meaning to “to have a priest fuck your cunt”. Too hard to credit. It is far likelier that the Old Ossetian “kaitz fua saunge” [kajci fæ wa sawgin] came straight from Tzetztes.

But that’s not the only hypothesis in play. “kaitz fua saunge” may have come straight from Tzetzes; but νὰ γαμῇ τὸ μουνίν σου παπᾶς may not have. It is still possible that a scribe spiced up the language of Tzetzes in transmission. Kaplanis has noted concern about the vernacular form νά. We can also note that the monin, the Northern Italian word for “monkey” (and “cat” and “cunt”) is reported in the Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch as first attested in 1340.

So as George Baloglou suggested, we should look at the vernacular Greek words used in the translation more closely.

The Early Modern Greek glosses occur in the three manuscripts that preserve the epilogue, all from the 15th century. The Casanatensis gives up at verse 15 of the language demonstration, but the three manuscripts are clearly transmitting the same text. I’m presenting their texts separately, and commenting on their language to the extent I can.

Casanatensis (1413)

4 [Cumans] καλημέρα σου, αὐθέντριά μου, καλημέρα σου, αὐθέντα μου.
Good day to you, my mistress, good day to you, my lord.
7 [Turks] καλημέρα σου, ἀδελφέ, ποῦ ὑπάγεις, πόθεν εἶσαι, φίλε;
Good day to you, brother, where are you going, where are you from, friend?
10 [Latins] καλῶς ἦλθες, αὐθέντα μου, καλῶς ἦλθες ἀδελφέ.
Welcome, my lord, welcome brother.
12 καὶ ἀπὸ ποίου θέματος ἦλθες;
And what theme [Latin: provintsia] have you come from?
14 πῶς, ἀδελφέ, ἦλθες εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν;
How, brother, have you come to this town?

  • καλημέρα: this is the familiar “good day” greeting of Modern Greek, and the Casanatensis writes it, like Modern Greek, as a single word; the other two manuscripts write it as two words. Trapp’s Lexikon der Byzantinischen Gräzität records καλημέρις “wish for a good day” in De Ceremoniis by Constantine Porphyrogenitus (956–959), and the corresponding καλησπέρα “good evening” in Delatte’s Anecdota Atheniensia. Kriaras’ dictionary of Early Modern Greek records καλημέρα later, in the Account of Famed Venice, Ptocholeon, and Machairas’ Chronicle—so 15th century. But given Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ earlier καλημέρις, and the fact that the other two manuscripts still write it as two words, I don’t think it a stretch that it could have been extant in Tzetzes’ time. At any rate, De Ceremoniis uses καλὴ ἡμέρα nine times: once in the identical καλὴ ἡμέρα ὑμῖν, ἄρχοντες “good day to you, my lords”, and in the formula νίκαις καλὴ ἡμέρα “a good day for victories!”
  • καλημέρα σου: the genitive for indirect objects was certainly in place in Southern Italy by the 11th century, in the monastic land deeds published by Trinchera and Cusa. 1 Seeing it in Constantinople is odd: Constantinople would have used the accusative, not the genitive. Yet De Ceremoniis also attested it in the selfsame expression: καλή σου ἡμέρα. If the expression turns up in De Ceremoniis, it is plausible two centuries later in Tzetzes.
  • καλῶς ἦλθες: This expression for “welcome” is as old as the Apocalypse of Sedrach (3rd–4th century) and the Apophthegmata Patrum (5th century); so again, it could plausibly have been used by Tzetzes.
  • θέματος: Themes are districts we associated with Middle Byzantium more than with Palaeologan Byzantium, but Wikipedia assures us that “the term remained in use as a provincial and financial circumscription until the very end of the Empire.” So we can’t use it to date the writing.

Barberinus (15th century)

4 [Cumans] καλὴ ἡμέρα σου, αὐθεντρία μου, καλὴ ἡμέρα σου, αὐθέντα μου.
7 [Turks] καλὴ ἡμέρα σου, ἀδελφέ, ποῦ ὑπάγεις, πόθεν ἧσαι, φίλε;
10 [Latins] καλῶς ἦλθες, αὐθέντα μου, καλῶς ἦλθες ἀδελφέ.
12 πόθεν ἧσαι καὶ ἀπὸ ποίου θέματος ἦλθες;
Who are you and what theme have you come from?
14 πῶς, ἀδελφέ, ἦλθες εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν;
16 πεζός, καβάριος, διὰ θαλάσσης, θέλεις ἀργ…;
On foot, on horseback, by sea, do you wish to [delay]?
19 [Alans] καλὴ ἡμέρα σου, αὐθέντα μου, ἀρχόντισσα, πόθεν ἧσαι;
Good day to you, my lord, my lady, where are you from?
24 [Arabs] ποῦ ὑπάγεις, πόθεν ἧσαι, αὐθεντρία μου; αὐθέντα μου, καλὴ ἡμέρα σου.
Where are you going, where are you from, my lady? My lord, good day to you.
27 [Russians] ὑγίαινε, ἀδελφέ, ἀδελφίτζα, καλὴ ἡμέρα σου.
May you be healthy, my brother, my dear sister, good day to you.
30 [Jews] μεμαγευμένε τυφλέ
Bewitched blind man
32  Ἑβραῖε λίθε, ὁ Κύριος ἦλθεν, ἀστραπὴ εἰς τὸ κεφάλιν σου.
Jewish stone, the Lord is come, lightning to your head.

  • καβαλλάριος: (mangled in this manuscript but not in the Vindobonensis) is Latin, and is first attested in the 6th century.
  • ἀρχόντισσα: again, already occurs in De Ceremoniis.
  • ἀδελφίτζα: the diminutive suffix -itsa (which is of course Slavic in origin, and in fact ἀδελφίτζα is Tzetzes’ translation of Old Russian sestritsa) is again old enough to be Tzetzes; Trapp LBG records εἰκονίτζα “little icon” from an Athonian act from 1142; Michael Glycas’ Prison Verses from 1158/9 feature ὡρίτσα “an hour” and γρουτίτσα “porridge”; and John Camaterus (late 12th century) uses the suffix extensively in his astrological works.

Up until now, what we have seen is vernacular, which we wouldn’t have expected to see from a scholar as pedantic as Tzetzes. But the first experiments in Early Modern Greek literature were by scholars contemporary with Tzetzes—Michael Glycas’ Prison Verses were written just a a decade later. And none of the words we have seen so far are impossible for Tzetzes’ time.

Vindobonensis (turn of 14th century)

4 [Cumans] καλὴ ἡμέρα σου, αὐθεντρία μου, καλὴ ἡμέρα σου, αὐθέντα μου.
7 [Turks] καλὴ ἡμέρα σου, ἀδελφέ, ποῦ ὑπάγεις, πόθεν ἧσαι, φίλε;
10 [Latins] καλῶς ἦλθες, αὐθέντα μου, καλῶς ἦλθες ἀδελφέ.
12 πόθεν ἧσαι καὶ ἀπὸ ποίου θέματος ἦλθες;
14 πῶς, ἀδελφέ, ἦλθες εἰς ταύτην τὴν πόλιν;
16 πεζός, καβαλάριος, διὰ θαλάσσης, θέλεις ἀργῆσαι;
On foot, on horseback, by sea, do you wish to delay (stay)?
19 [Alans] καλὴ ἡμέρα σου, αὐθέντα μου, ἀρχόντισσα, πόθεν ἧσαι;
20a ἂν δ’ ἔχῃ Ἀλάνισσα παπᾶν φίλον, ἀκούσαις ταῦτα·
But if the Alan woman has a priest as a boyfriend, you will hear the following:
21 οὐκ αἰσχύνεσαι, αὐθεντρία μου, νὰ γαμῇ τὸ μουνίν σου παπᾶς;
Are you not ashamed, my lady, to have a priest fuck your cunt?
24 [Arabs] ποῦ ὑπάγεις, πόθεν ἧσαι, αὐθεντρία μου; αὐθέντα μου, καλὴ ἡμέρα σου.
27 [Russians] ὑγίαινε, ἀδελφέ, ἀδελφήτζα, καλὴ ἡμέρα σου.
30 [Jews] μεμαγευμένε οἶκε στόμα φάραγγα καταπίνων μυίας τυφλέ
Bewitched house mouth chasm swallowing flies blind man
32  Ἑβραῖε λίθε, ὁ Κύριος ἦλθεν, ἀστραπὴ εἰς τὴν κεφαλήν σου.

As Hunger remarks, the Barberinus and the slightly earlier Vindobonensis are very closely related. In fact, the Barberinus is consistently the Vindobonensis plus mistakes (καβάριος in both Greek and Latin; an Arabic and a Russian word mangled), and minus omissions (the passage in question, and half the Hebrew gloss.) I’d be tempted to say the Barberinus is a copy of the Vindobonensis, except that the Barberinus correctly transmits sestritsa where the Vindobonensis has setritsa.

The Vindobonensis is in better condition than the Barberinus, and it preserves θέλεις ἀργῆσαι intact. If this was intended as a future tense, “will you stay?”, it would be the smoking gun for a late phrasing: Middle Greek had a large repertoire of replacement expressions for the future tense, but the volitive future is a 14th century thing, not a 12th century thing. But Tzetzes gives θέλεις ἀργῆσαι as the translation of Latin vis morare “do you want to delay?”; so an anachronistic future tense reading is unnecessary.

Now, the Ossetian is likely to come from Tzetzes himself. That means that Tzetzes must also have glossed it in the original; subsequent scribes are unlikely to have sought out Alans to translate Tzetzes’ Ossetian for them.

But might a scribe have gotten up to mischief here?

  • The Old Ossetian is the less explicit “have a love affair with the priest”. Tzetzes would not have censored the Ossetian (why bother, if you don’t censor the Greek); but he may well not have known the more explicit Ossetian. On the other hand, the Greek he wrote down may not have been as explicit either. The discrepancy between the two is at least suspicious.
  • As Kaplanis pointed out, this is very, very early for ἵνα to be written down as νά (ἵνα > unstressed ινα > να by deletion of unstressed initial syllable.) As I retorted, we know from metrical evidence that ἵνα was unstressed in Romanus Melodus, 600 years before Tzetzes. Again, there are errant earlier instances, including one instance in De Ceremoniis (Bonn edition p. 693), and a couple of Athonian instances—e.g. in 1034 from Esphigmenou monastery:

    Πλακία δὲ ὄσα χρίζη ἠ καθ’ ημῶν μονὴ ἤγουν τῶν Καταδεμόνων νὰ μη κολύετε παρα των διαδόχων (καὶ) παντοίων διᾶκατόχων τῆς κατ’ εσὲ μονῆς
    As much of Plakia creek as is claimed by our monastery, namely Katademonon, shall not be impeded by the heirs and any administrators of your monastery.

    And of course it is abundantly used by Michael Glycas in his Prison Verses, as Kaplanis concedes. Tzetzes may not have written in the vernacular at all; but if Tzetzes did choose to write glosses in the same language as Glycas and at the same time as Glycas, he would have used the same νά.

  • The modern word for priest παπᾶς, finally, is first attested as early as the fourth century in papyri, and is cited in a proverb by Glycas:

    Ἡ παπαδιὰ παρέπεσεν, ἐξύβρισε τὴν κοίτην
    καὶ καθαιροῦσιν τὸν παπᾶν!
    The priest’s wife has slipped, she has sworn at the bed,
    and the priest ends up defrocked! (270–271)

    As it turns out, Tzetzes himself uses the word several times.

So linguistically, nothing in Tzetzes’ epilogue is implausible linguistically: pretty much every modern feature was already seen either in Porphyrogenitus two centuries before, or at the latest in Glycas one decade later.

The only suggestions that the verse might have been modernised by a later scribe are:

  1. monìn, the Venetian word that is either the direct origin of μουνί “cunt”, or the vehicle for Arabic maimūn coming to mean “cat > cunt”, is not attested before 1340. Of course, if μουνί actually does have a Greek etymology, that doesn’t matter; and even if it doesn’t, silence is not proof, especially when it comes to taboo words.
  2. The Ossetian is not saying what the Greek is saying; and the scandalous notion of a lady having an affair with a priest might just have motivated a scribe (and we only have one scribe’s text) to spice up the language.
  3. We have no precedent for Tzetzes experimenting in the vernacular. In fact, Tzetzes bristles in the Theogony proper of having to write a simpler text for his patron than he’d have preferred, including the use of political verse rather than the hexameters he’d have preferred. 2 Tzetzes’ epilogue was a court party piece, and court party pieces were how a lot of Early Modern Greek writing started—the Ptochoprodromos poems certainly, and the Jeffreys found some more instances that Google is not helping me remember. But if Tzetzes resented using the political verse in the Theogony, it’s odd that he’d use vernacular glosses in its epilogue.

… What, you want a conclusion?

Some discomfort with the possibility that Tzetzes’ actually wrote the verse with μουνίν in it as it is now recorded. But not enough to decide he didn’t do it. The null hypothesis stays.

9 Comments

  • […] In a previous post, I mused that the use of καλή σου ἡμέρα “Good day to you” in Constantinople, in texts such as De Cerimoniis from the 10th century, was problematic—since by then the dialect split was meant to be in place, between genitive pronouns in the South (Southern Italy), and accusative pronouns in the North. […]

  • gbaloglou says:

    Quite a text (and post, and discussion), let me just point out that “Theogony” appears not to be included in the list of sources of Kriaras Lexicon of Medieval Greek … whatever that means!

  • Dion Mert says:

    What about the etymology from ευνούχος => μνούχος => μουνούχος => μουνί?

  • Κ. Καραποτόσογλου says:

    https://vk.com/wall-41259558_13001
    The Original work of Adæmon Khord

    Google Translate

    Alanian phrases in Theogony by John Tsets

    Around the middle of the XII century. Byzantine writer John Tsets (circa 1110-1180) wrote the poem “Theogony”, dedicated to the origin of the Greek gods and the enumeration of Trojan and Greek heroes, at the beginning of the epilogue which he cited expressions and greeting formulas in the languages of neighboring peoples in the Greek spelling together with the original Greek text and a subscript in vulgar Greek. This first part of the epilogue includes 35-36 verses, among which are, among others, the two, mentioned by Tsece as “Alansky.”

    We will quote the Alanian part of the epilogue:

    τοις Άλανοις προσφθέγγομαι κατά ‘την τούτων γλώσσαν

    [I address the Alans in their own language]

    καλή ‘ήμερα σου, αυ’θέτα μου, αρχόντισσα, πόθεν είσαι;

    [‘Good afternoon, my lord, archontissa, where are you from?]

    ταπαγχας μέσφιλι χσινά κορθι καντά, και ταλλα.

    [Tapankhas mesfili khsina korthi kanda and so on]

    αν δ’εχη Άλάνισσα παπαν φίλον, α’κουσαις ταύτα.

    [If the alanka has a lover (holy) father, you will hear this:]

    Ουκ αίσχύνεσαι, αυθέντριά μου, να ‘γαμη το μουνίν σου παπάς

    [‘Are not you ashamed, my lady? Does your father have a connection with you? ‘]

    Then φάρνετζ κίντζι μέσφιλι καιτζ φουα σαουγγε.

    [Το ‘farnetz kintzi mesfili kaitzfua saunge.’]

    Thus, the reading, translation and interpretation of the Alan phrases of Tzec, adopted to date in the scientific literature, can be represented as follows:

    I address the Alans in their language:

    “Ταπαγχας μέσφιλι χσινά κορθι καντά” ‘Good afternoon, my lord, archontissa, where are you from? ”

    If Alanka has a lover of his (holy) father, you will hear this: “Do you not feel ashamed of you, my lady?” “Then?” After all, is your (holy) father “in touch” with you? ”

    The variant of the interpretation of the first sentence of Tzets concerning the modern Ossetian language:

    The Alan phrase at Tzec:
    Ταπαγχας μέσφιλι χσινά κορθι καντά.
    The value of Tsets:
    Good afternoon, my lord, archontissa, where are you from?
    The modern Ossetian equivalent:
    Dæ bon xwarz, me’fšini ‘xšinæ. Kurdigæj dæ?
    Importance in the modern Ossetian language

    Good afternoon, my wife’s mistress (wife). Thus, unlike R. Bilmeyer, who discovers two synonymic interrogative pronouns (!!) In κορθι καν, we see in them κορθικαι (with the distortion ι-ν, which is quite possible in handwriting) and, accordingly, we consider more acceptable the proposal of VI Abaev kurdigæj ‘whence’. Our interpretation of the group μέσφιλι χσινά differs significantly from the traditional one. We assume that we are talking here about the relation of belonging between σφιλα (= ‘fšinæ)’ mister ‘and χσινά (=’ xšinæ) ‘mistress; spouse ‘, quite naturally expressed by the genre σφιλι (=’ fšini) and the corresponding order of words. In this case, not only the case endings of nouns, but also the distinction in their genera, which is evident from the Greek translation (my lord, archontissa), are adequately explained. The first phrase, at least to us, seems more or less unambiguous, then for the second we can assume two interpretations. I version 1. The Alan phrase at Tsets: [That] ‘φάρνετζ, κίντζι μέσφιλι καιτζ φουα σαουγγε

    The value of Tsets:

    Are not you ashamed, my lady? After all, does the connection (holy) father have you?

    The modern Ossetian equivalent:

    F (s) arm neči (j) kinźi æfšini, kæči fæwwa sawgini.

    Importance in the modern Ossetian language:

    There is no shame (y) of the lady-daughter-in-law, who happens to be a priest (given to the priest):

    Obviously, in this case, the initial το, as S. Perevalov assumes, does not refer to the Alan text, but is a Greek union introducing a foreign language text.

    If we accept the version of R. Billmaier with respect to φάρ and correlate it with fsarm, and the entire composite φάρνετζ be represented as three separate words fsarm neči æj, then the fallout of m into fsarm can be explained by merging m and n at the junction fsarm neči, moreover, judging on writing, these two words were perceived by Tsece as one fragment. The verb ‘to be’ in 3 liters. singular æj was naturally eliminated and in the speech stream merged with the negative pronoun nečij.

    We propose the group κιντζι μέσφιλι to treat as genetics from κίντζα μέσφιλα ‘mistress-daughter-in-law’, i.e. as the definition of the mistress, who is the daughter-in-law in the house, which is semantically correlated with the treatment in the first sentence.

    The advantage of this version is, first, that the problem of explaining the case forms and the syntax of the words κίντζι μέσφιλι is removed, since their genitive case corresponds to the semantics of the text in the same way as the form φουα of the verb ‘to be’. At the same time, the adoption of this version requires the admission of metathesis καιτζ> κατζι, but this can also be explained by the scribe’s mistake.

    Obviously, the weak point of this interpretation is the transition from the interrogative form of the sentence in the Greek version to the narrative in Alan.

    II version

    The Alan phrase at Tzec:

    (To),,,,,,,,,

    The value of Tsets:

    Are not you ashamed, my lady? After all, does the connection (holy) father have you?

    The modern Ossetian equivalent:

    (De ‘) f (s) arm nečij, kinźi æfšini xæss (æ) (ku) fæwwa sawgin.

    Importance in the modern Ossetian language:

    (Your) shame is nothing (= nothing stands), (if) with (you) the mistress-daughter-in-law the priest will visit.

    This version also preserves the narrative type of the Alan sentence, but one can not exclude the possibility that, in the communication chain of the Tsez-Informant-Tsez chain, the corresponding modal shift has occurred, as well as the replacement of two independent sentences by one complex subordinate. By the way, this difference in the syntax of the Greek and Alanian phrases is clearly indicated in the last comma after φάρνετζ. Thus, the interpretation given by us is more in line with the general construction of the Alan phrase.

    The advantages of this treatment are also seen in the fact that the case forms and syntactic functions of the members of the Alanian phrase correspond more to the Greek variant: σαουγγε (under the assumption of metathesis σαουγεν> σαουγνε with subsequent distortion σαουγγε) stands in the nominative case and is subject, and kinźi æfšini, used in The genitive case, which is natural before the xæssæ introduced by us, serves as a complement, not replaced, as in the Greek version, by a personal pronoun in connection with the merger of the two sentences into one.

    Some dissatisfaction leaves the interpretation of the semantics of the combination kinźi æfšini as a “lady-daughter-in-law”, as in this case it is possible to assume the genetics of two different subjects – the daughter-in-law (kinźæ) and her mother-in-law (æfšinæ), which are called in modern Ossetian language. Thus, it seems that it turns out that the priest had a connection with the mother-in-law of the daughter-in-law – kinźi æfšini хæссæ. However, it is obvious that in this case there is a serious discrepancy with the content of the Greek text.

    Obviously, this interpretation requires the recognition of the identity καιτζ = xæssæ. However, the differences between the Alanian and Ossetian forms may have an interesting explanation. The fact is that for the sturgeon. digor. xæssæ there are several etymologies, according to VI Abaev, “almost equal seductiveness” .67

    On the one hand, it is associated with the sake. hamtsa, hatsa ‘s’, hamja ‘together’ and avast. hamča- ‘connected’. At the same time, VIAbaev points out the striking closeness of хæssæ with the Hittite pretext with the joint meaning of kati, and if we take into account that ti in the Ossetian gives (c) s, then, according to VI Abaev, “a comparison of the Hittites. kati – wasps. xæssæ is flawless from both the sound and the semantic side. “68

    Moreover, in Iranian languages are found postpositions (sometimes prepositions), the forms of which are similar to the Hittite – Taj. kali, qati, am. qati lagn. katu, qati. Of these two variants of the initial form for xæssæ – with the initial h or k (q), despite the natural fall of the initial h- before a, the Ossetian prefers the Saka hatsa, taking into account the “particularly close ties of the Saksky with the Ossetian (more precisely – with his Sarmatian ancestor). “69

    However, as is well known, the Sarmatian ties were no less close to the languages of the Pamir circle, and the presence in them of the indicated forms with the initial k-gives no less grounds for erecting the Ossetian xæssæ to a similar prototype. Moreover, the word under consideration in the Tsece text, if we are correct in identifying καιτζ = xæssæ, gives an additional argument for this. The absence of the final vowel in this word in the “phrases of Tsece” can be explained by its deliberate omission by Tsece, who sought to preserve the 15-complex dimension of the verse. By the way, with the same can be associated with the absence at the end of νετζ (= nečij) of the letter ι, the use of which would automatically break this word into two syllables, violating the general structure of the verse.

    In general, the last interpretation of the second Alan phrase Tsets seems to us the most acceptable.

    Τοῖς Ἀλανοῖς προσφθέγγομαι κατὰ τὴν τούτων γλῶσσαν:
    [καλὴ ἡμέρα σου, αὐθέντα μου, ἀρχόντισσα, πόθεν εἶσαι;]
    ταπαγχὰς μέσφιλι χσινὰ κορθὶ καντά, καὶ τἄλλα.
    ἂν δ᾿ ἔχει Ἀλάνισσα παπᾶν φίλον, ἀκοῦσαις ταῦτα:
    [οὐκ αἰσχύνεσαι, αὐθέντριά μου, νὰ γαμῇ τὸ μουνίν σου παπᾶς;]
    τὸ φάρνετζ κίντζι μέσφιλι καὶτζ φουὰ σαοῦγγε.

    Note. In general, the Alan phrases of Tzets, VIAbaev reads: “Ta pan Has, Mesfin, Hsina, kortig …, then farndzen kinji mesfin kitefua …” 12 In this case, despite the obvious closeness of the Alan phrases to the modern Digor dialect of the Ossetian language, VIAbaev believes that the facts in Tsece’s texts do not reflect any specific “Digorian” forms, but “average” Alanian forms of that time.13 Substantiating the existence of these “average” Alanian forms and, accordingly, dialectal nondifferentiation of the Alan language, VI Abaev argues that many of the Ironsko-di There were no mountain differences at that time, and he disputed the opinion of G.Shold, who, on the basis of an analysis of the Alan elements in Hungarian, came to the conclusion that already in the VIII century. the Ossetian language was divided into the Irish and Digor dialects, 14 and in the Hungarian it reflected precisely the Ironian forms.

    Κ. Καραποτόσογλου

    • Ευχαριστώ! So this author posits some distortion between the Ossetian and the Greek, in the mood or polarity of the verb, or the use of a noun instead of a pronoun—though certainly nothing like the level of obscenity present in Greek and missing in the Ossetian.

      • Stephen C. Carlson says:

        Assuming Tzetzes did write it, do we know how vulgar the term was in his day?

        • It is of course very difficult to know from such little attestation. The usage of the word over the next several centuries is in the context of insult, and often relating to animals rather than humans. That is consistent with it being obscene. But it’s even harder to know what decorous alternatives there were in the vernacular, if any.

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    1. Humbert, Jean. 1930. La disparition du datif en grec du Ier au Xe siècle) Collection de la Société de linguistique de Paris, t. XXXIII. Paris, Champion.

    2. Jeffreys, Elizabeth & Jeffreys, Michael. 1986. The Oral Background of Byzantine Popular Poetry. Oral Tradition 1/3: 504–547. p. 512

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