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Bracteos grece savina ut macer vracteos grecus.


Bracteos ABC | Bracceos f | Bractaos e

vracteos AC | {preceded by an unsuccessful attempt} vracteos e | uartheos B | bracceos f


Bracteos is Greek for Latin savina {"savin"} as Macer states. A Greek speaker pronounces it vracteos.


Simon alludes to Macer Floridus De viribus herbarum, 12, ed. Choulant (1832: 48), SABINA.

Line 492: Bratheos est graece Sabina vocata latine,

"Bratheos is Greek and sabina is the Latin name {of this plant}". Choulant notes these vv.ll. for bracteos: brateos, bratheos, brathy.

The Greek word, which Simon writes Bracteos and Macer Bratheos, is βράθυ /bráthy/, genitive βράθυος /bráthyos/, glossed in LSJ "savin, Juniperus Sabina, ... also: J. foetidissima (ibid.)". Simon's form Bracteos shows some modifications that were common with medieval scribes:

-Writing 'ct' for /tt/ or /t/, the sounds he intended to represent, is hypercorrect, a spelling borne from an insecurity Romance speakers had because many Latin words where 'ct', i.e. /-kt-/, occurs were in Vulgar Latin pronounced /tt/ or /t/, cf. Modern Italian ditto < dictum, fatto < factum, Portuguese dito, feito. Simon as a Ligurian speaker did not distinguish geminate consonants at any rate. This led medieval scribes to spellings with 'ct', where etymologically there had never been a /k/ sound, as in fact there never was one in Greek βράθυ /bráthy/.

- This Greek word also contains a sound, which was then and now pronounced by Greeks similar to the word-initial sound of English "thought", a sound uncommon in Italian dialects and was therefore routinely replaced by Italian speakers by /t/, often spelt 'th'.

- Furthermore a late Greek sound change where υ > ι {the vowel sound found word-initially in German über, French sud became /i/}, would result in an expected form *brati or *brathi.

- Simon's form is in fact derived from the genitive βράθυος /bráthyos/. The reason for this is: very often chapters in the herbal literature were titled in Latin: De X, "On or about {the herb} X", and in Greek this function was taken up by the preposition περὶ /perì/ which required the genitive; thus the chapter on βράθυ /bráthy/ would be headed περὶ βράθυος /perì bráthyos/. Scribes with little or no knowledge of Greek would therefore often mistake the genitival form for the nominative.

- With all the sound changes applied, a form like *bratios or *brathios would be expected. But in Vulgar Latin the unstressed endings -eus, -eos, -ius, -eus became interchangeable, which is why Macer writes bratheos and Simon bracteos. Latin speakers would pronounce the word /brátios/.

- Finally late Greek sound-changed β {i.e. /b/} into /v/, unless it was preceded by a nasal, and this resulted in native Greek speakers pronouncing the word /vráθios/ {'θ' as in English "thought”}, the pronunciation Simon attempts to portray at the end of the entry.

The Greek word βράθυ /bráthy/ is itself according to Frisk (1960-72: I.263) of Semitic origin, and he quotes Aramaic: /berāt/, Hebrew ברוש /berôš/ and Assyrian /burāšu/ "cypress; pine". The Greek collateral form βόρατον /bóraton/ is probably of the same origin, observe the phonetic similarity with the Aramaic word.

WilfGunther 18/05/13

For the word savina and a botanical discussion see also Sabina.

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