Iscrizioni novgorodiane su corteccia di betulla

Ultimo aggiornamento: 18 gennaio 2023

Faccani R.

Iscrizioni novgorodiane su corteccia di betulla

Università degli studi, Dipartimento di lingue e civiltà dell'Europa centro-orientale Udine 1995

Scheda a cura di: Faccani R.

Recensione di J. I. Bjørnflaten, in "Russian Linguistics", 2000, Vol. 24, Fasc. 3, pp. 343-348.

Dalla recensione:

"In the last decade or so, the study of the birch bark letters has attracted a number of scholars and produced a vast amount of research. This limited corpus has not only yielded a number of interpretations pertaining to the most minute details of the texts of various letters, but has also triggered grand-scale conclusions1 concerning Proto-Slavic and the Slavic migration into Upper Russia. Central in this development is the maestro in the field, as universally acknowledged, A.A. Zaliznjak, who has paid attention to virtually all aspects of the study of the birch bark letters, although far from all of his conclusions have been met with general agreement. In his report to the Cracow Congress of Slavists in 1998 Zaliznjak (Зализняк 1998, 248) states that in addition to a large number of papers and articles dedicated to the study of the birch bark letters, more than ten monographs treating these texts have been published so far. It is of particular interest to note that a number of these monographs have been published outside Russia in several languages. One of the latest of these monographs has come out in Italy, a country much more active in the field of Slavic studies than perhaps generally perceived. The book to be reviewed here, Iscrizioni novgorodiane su corteccia di betulla, 'Novgorodian Inscriptions on Birch Bark', is published by the Italian scholar Remo Faccani, also known as the author of previous publications on the same subject, as a volume issued by the Dipartimento di Lingue e Civilta dell' Europa Centro-Orientale at the University of Udine. The Iscrizioni novgorodiane contains altogether 90 birch bark letters of which 7 have been excavated at Staraja Russa. The birch bark letters analysed in the monograph have been selected out of the complete corpus which now numbers more than 900 letters, on the basis of their textual integrity, i.e. that each individual letter represents a text, not merely a fragment. The 90 birch bark letters selected are further divided into two chronological sections, one section comprising the letters dated to the 1 lth-beginning of the 13th centuries, the other section comprising those ascribed to the period from the middle of the 13th to the 15th centuries. The letters chosen are presented in two variants. First a presentation is given which is a mere reproduction of the way the texts appear in the various volumes of the Новгородские грамоты на бересте, but with word-division. Then the texts are presented a second time with inserted punctuation. It is hard to see what is really gained from this kind of double presentation. When the texts have been analysed with regard to word-division, the punctuation is a less intriguing issue. If a double or two-step presentation should have had any purpose, the first  step should have been a r the прорисъ reproduced of the text as it appears would then be to analyse proper punctuation. The somewhat superfluou impede the principal aim accordance with establis by the scholar is, conse words and to provide an gap between the contem understanding of what th order to achieve this aim and accompanied with co by far the most importan the other hand, Faccani the one made by Zaliznja however, Faccani is in so predecessors in the field which has been going on saw the day of light mor new interpretations of so some of his findings with all. Relatively much space is dedicated to birch bark letter number 9, Gostjata's letter, which, as is well known, has attracted a lot of attention earlier, above all linked to the question whether Gostjata is a man or a woman.8 Faccani argues strongly for the view that the Gostjata is a woman and with reference to Gas- parini's monumental monograph II matriarcato slavo, The Slavic Matriarchate' (Gasparini 1973), he is able to provide an interpretation of the letter which lends strong support to this point of view. The most original part of the discussion here is probably linked to the analysis of the phrase докр'к сътворл which is claimed to be a reflection of the довр'к Д'Ьа in Vita Constantini. And it appears convincing to claim that this in its turn is modelled on Greek xaXcog noiwv, ev/xakcog noielv or ev TiQaxzsiv. But if such an interpretation is to hold true, the dependence of this text on other texts is perhaps greater than previously assumed. The same could also be the case with the participial construction избивъ роукъ!, 'hav- ing beaten the hands', which, although weakly attested, probably means 'having concluded a new marriage contract'. It is therefore difficult to see how this birch bark text as well as others, constitute a literary culture not linked to others, more dominant ones. A similar correspondence between phrases in the birch bark letters and in Greek is claim famous of all of them, A considered to correspond this is true, it is worth no notorious Novgorod diale the attention is directed the holy wood', i.e. havin to be one of the very old Christian culture in term dum osculationem crucis. The fact that the word for the wood is rendered in its Church Slavic form for wood or tree др*Ьво rather than in the East Slavic form де- рево indicates that even the very earliest of the birch bark letters came into being under a certain influence of Church Slavic, being the channel which established links between the cultural heritage of the Greek and Latin world and the north- ernmost Slavic periphery in the first centuries of the last millennium (cf . Picchio 1979-1980,653). One of the topics discussed in the interpretations of the texts is the meaning of the word вежникн, attested in two different letters, 550 and 664, respectively, вьжники творлтесл въддвоше сокъюллвоу цетъфи гривне, 'the vezniki pretend having given Sobyslav four grivnas', and велить възати tf вежьникъ, 'orders to take from the vezniki'. Faccani translates this word as 'uomini delle tende', 'people of the tents', i.e. the Laplanders. If this is to be accepted, we would here have to do with an hitherto unknown designation of the Laplanders, the Saami people of Northern Scandinavia and the Kola peninsula, a people which is known to have dwelled far to the southeast in earlier times, including the Novgorod area. The word вежники was ascertained for the first time in 550, excavated in the period 1977-1983. In the first publication of the letter (Янин, Зализняк 1986, 23-24) a connection with вежд, 'tent', is not considered likely. It appeared more likely to consider вежники as derived from a designation of a village, although no appropriate village was identified. Then the same word turns up in 664, excavated in the period 1983-1986. In the publication of this letter, however, the link to вежд, is now considered probable (Янин, Зализняк 1993, 55). It is further suggested that the вежники are not settled taxpayers, i.e. nomads with a negative reputation. In the latest publication of these letters (Зализняк 1995, 271), it is plainly stated that the literal meaning of вежники are 'those living in tents', and probably designating Laplanders or Karelians. No further arguments are adduced for this point of view. As the book of Faccani was published in the same year as Zaliznjak's, it is hard to decide who first suggested the idea that the вежники might be a designation of the Laplanders. There is no doubt, however, that Faccani has provided a well-founded argumentation for this interpretation of the word. As  far as I am able to ascer arguments and based on ones as well as regional o where the вежа (Подвы dwellings of the Saami i however, note that the w of the more southern O attention when assuming direction. But in support the word has got an ent Kola peninsula in obviou вежа: 1. 'Жилище саа или шкурами', 2. 'Зе lingvogeographic point of the latter meaning is st вежа: 'шалаш, покрыт found in the Pskov area sources as 'башня, вы In his overall textual int attention to the historica text of 590, литка въста the carelians' is conseque historical background and other contemporary sou was often described as a to the Kiev lands. This is ascertained in just 10 Novgorod area. The overall attention of their background and co syntax, morphology or p interesting observations infinitivum cum nominat Staraja Russa (number 10 attested (Filin 1972, 477 a passive clause where t 607 which consists jus 'ziznobud was killed by 1986, it was not interpr that o\[ съиевиць indica had been killed (Янин, Зализняк 1836, 71). In the last pubblication of the  letter by Zaliznjak, the no reference to Faccan For a reviewer it theref Zaliznjak have reached th case as well as in the case of the вежники. In his treatment Faccani addresses morphological and phonological issues only randomly. That might also provide the explanation for the author's complete negligence of the scholarly discussions which the research on the BBL has triggered. The book's preface as well as the list of references conveys the impression that the author is only aware of the Zaliznjak-school of research. No reference is made neither in the commentaries, nor in the list of references to scholars who do not fully share the approach of the Zaliznjak-school of berestology. This point is amply exemplified by the discussion of birch bark letter 1 30 where it is plainly stated with reference to the hapax legomenon Х^ри» that 'Andrej Zaliznjak has proved in an extremely persuasive manner that we are facing a variant of serb with the meaning "grey cloth" (...) "bez effekta vtoroj palatalizacii"'. Faccani is apparently ignorant of the views of other scholars than Zaliznjak or he finds them to insignificant to be mentioned. This is rather conspicuous as a most convincing alternative interpretation of this lexeme was presented a year before the publication of Faccani's book by A.B. Strachov where it is proposed that the lexeme is simply a Germanic loan, gero, hero, meaning cloth (Strachov 1994, 298), even listed in the dictionary of Sparwenfeld as kiri>/kirb, as ХуЛее сукцо, pannus vilis. An alternative interpretation has also been proposed by myself (Bj0rnflaten 1990, 323, Bj0rnflaten 1997, 15), that the initial /eh/ arose from III which in its turn was the outcome of sokan'e operating above all in the Pskov area and amply attested in mediaeval texts. This interpretation of mine was sought substantiated with reference to the form хов attested by Fenne (1607) and derived from шов, i.e. хов < шов as an apparant parallel to X^P" < С'Ьри. This criticism pertains, however, to points of lesser importance in the book of Faccani, while it could be considered more serious that the scholar chooses to leave unmentioned the controversy which the highly creative research of Zaliznjak and others has yielded. The main object of the book has been to provide coherent textual interpretation of 90 birch bark letters. This aim has been achieved and it is undoubtedly an accomplishment to have translated all these texts into Italian and thereby providing the most extensive translations of the birch bark letters into any contemporary language other than Russian. The birch bark letters exist now not merely in Russian, but also in Italian which means that scholars from other fields without any knowledge of Russian may gain access to glimpses of life as it unfolded in Lord Novgorod the Great."


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