On 04/09/2013 03:51, Padraic Brown wrote:
> A couple questions to consider: where exactly in
> central-eastern Europe? and when do the proto-Asirkans
> come in contact with Germanic speakers?

Quite so!  Both are important.

The Slave -nem-_ names, e.g. came about because the
contacts between Slav and Germans were not exactly friendly.
Calling them "mutes", i.e. people who don't speak properly,
is hostile or at best unfriendly.  it's like the way the
ancient Greeks called non-Greeks _barbaroi_ - their speech
just sounded like "bar bar ..."

The Alaman- group are simply naming all the Germans from the
'tribe'/group they first encountered, i.e. Alemanni  ("all
men") who broke through the Roman limes in 213 and expanded
during the 3rd century, raiding the Roman provinces and
settling on the left bank of the Rhine from the 4th century.

Similarly the Romans called all the Hellenes "Graeci",
because the Graeci were the first group they made serious
contact with; hence we now normally call them Greeks, not
Hellenes  ;)

Presumably it is fir similar reasons that you have Estonian
& Finnish _saksa_, the Saxons being the main group these
people first encountered.  I don't know the origin of the
Latvian and Lithuanian words, but I suspect it probably
derives from the name of another Germanic 'tribe'.

The _German-_ names derive not from any direct contact with
these peoples, but from the Latin _Germanus, Germania_ (the
origin of the Latin term is not certain).

The various T-/D- words - Duits(e), Deutsch, tysk(a), Þýska,
tedesco - all derive from Proto-Germanic *þiud- / *þeud-
"the people."  This would be used if the Asirkans actually
encountered the Germans more or less peaceably through trade
and actually conversed with them and knew what they called
themselves.  Interesting there is a medieval Latin adjective
_theodiscus_ which means more or less "vernacular German."

So it really all depends where, when and how the Asirkans
first encountered Germanic peoples.

> If the timing is right, you might consider basing the
> name on the Goths,

Possible - it would be a first, but why not?


> Since the Asirkans are on the òther side of Germany from
> where the Romans would have met the Alemanni, it
> wouldn't make much sense (to me) for them to use that
> name.

Exactly - if you want Asirkans to sound plausible, they are
not going to be using the Alemanni name.

> If they met Germanics early enough, they might predate
> any Slavic or Baltic ethnonyms.

I think they would use _German-_ name only if (a) they did
not have direct contact with the Germanic peoples, and (b)
they had strong Latin influence.  Probably both are
unlikely.  To take up the Slav name would be likely only if
the Asirkans had strong connexions with Slaves and, probably,
somewhat hostile encounters with the Germanic peoples.

. On the other hand, the saks- name could come
> from the Germanic word for knife, *sahsam (this is,
> after all, what gives us Saxon).

maybe - but I'm sure the Fins and Estonians were as unaware
of that as were the Welsh who call us English 'Saeson", i.e.
Saxons.  It's from the tribal name, whatever its Germanic
origin may have been.

"language … began with half-musical unanalysed expressions
for individual beings and events."
[Otto Jespersen, Progress in Language, 1895]