Interesting Etymologies

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Re: Interesting Etymologies

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-08-30, 20:21

Salafi comes from the Arabic root س ل ف, which has to do with taking, giving, or passing things ('to pass' > 'to be past' > 'ancestors' > 'early Muslims'). I suspect that Amharic አሳላፊ asalafi 'waiter' is related.

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Re: Interesting Etymologies

Postby linguoboy » 2019-11-18, 16:47

Does anyone have a good source for the etymology of Mexican Spanish sarape (often spelled serape in English)? It's very tempting to attempt to link this to Persian سراپا sarâpâ, but it's difficult to see what the intermediate stages would have been. Most sources I've checked either give no etymology or make vague references to Nahuatl without actually citing any Nahuatl etymon.

ETA: A little more searching and I found a suggestion that it comes from a Tarascan word tzáraqua /ˈcʰarakwa/ (analysed as a nominalisation of thzara- "be thick"). So either there are huge temporo-spatial obstacles to overcome or significant phonetic ones. I can't think of any other borrowings into Spanish from any language with /kw/ > /p/.
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Re: Interesting Etymologies

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-11-18, 17:45

Have you seen article #16 (starting on p. 409) in this book? It seems to make a detailed argument for why the Tarascan origin holds up better than the Persian one.

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Re: Interesting Etymologies

Postby linguoboy » 2019-11-18, 17:52

vijayjohn wrote:Have you seen article #16 (starting on p. 409) in this book? It seems to make a detailed argument for why the Tarascan origin holds up better than the Persian one.

That's where I got the Tarascan forms I cited.
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Re: Interesting Etymologies

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-11-18, 20:13

linguoboy wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Have you seen article #16 (starting on p. 409) in this book? It seems to make a detailed argument for why the Tarascan origin holds up better than the Persian one.

That's where I got the Tarascan forms I cited.

It's a long article, though; did you see this part on p. 429?
Indeed, Becerra suggests Tarascan "charapeti" not only as the etymon of sarapico (a derivation of which he is sure) but also as the possible etymon of [sarape]. Both of these proposals remain to be evaluated. If his gloss of Tarascan "charapeti" is right (Spanish colorado means 'red' and almagre means 'red ochre') and if sarape ~ zarape comes from that Tarascan word, that would mean that at the time our problematic word arose the Tarascans were dying the objects so called red or with red ochre (from the plant called sarapico in Spanish?).

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Re: Interesting Etymologies

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-11-19, 1:16

Basically the origin is unknown and there are multiple theories, but to me it seems likely that it is related to Persian سراپا‎ sarâpâ in some way. This word travelled around a lot; the ancient Greeks had it as σάραπις (for example, see here) and Russian still uses it as сарафан (from which it has been borrowed into various languages to refer specifically to the Russian garment). Sarapis is apparently also used in Latin with the meaning of “Persian tunic” (see here). Depending on when it entered Latin (apparently from Greek), that could easily be how it wound up in Spanish.
These words do refer to clothing, while the supposed Purépecha (Tarascan) word "tzáraqua" didn’t. “Tsarakua” (its current spelling) is a type of fiber mat made from plant reeds and was not something to be worn as clothing. “Karuni” is the Purépecha word for sarape, and it also means "cotton" and various other types of overgarments.
What we think of as a sarape today was not worn by the pre-Hispanic Tarascans. I believe the sarape originated in certain groups of Nahua-speakers and was then brought to other parts of Mexico during the colonial period. Most indigenous groups have various other types of garments that were more common than sarapes in pre-Hispanic times.
I think people want to make it into an indigenous etymology because the sarape is known as a specifically a Mexican garment indigenous to Mexico, but basically no indigenous Mexican language used a word like “sarape” to refer to a garment like that. They had their own, quite different (and often more specific and nuanced) words for sarapes and for various, more specific types of sarape-like garments of different shapes, sizes, and materials. Maybe since it was not a type of garment worn by the Spaniards, Spaniards borrowed a Persian or Turkic or Greek word for what they considered to be a similar (but also foreign to them) overgarment when they first encountered it in Mexico? Latin already had this word to refer to Persian clothing. To me that makes more sense than the supposed Purépecha etymology or Nahua folk etymologies that tend to not be supported by any evidence of actual use, but ultimately, its true etymology is simply unknown.

This article is interesting: El Zarape. The Nahuatl etymology presented at the beginning has been proven incorrect (for various reasons the word *tzalanpepechtli is highly suspect as an authentic Nahuatl word). What I find interesting is the extensive list of various types of mantas and tilmas that are listed in the article.

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Re: Interesting Etymologies

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-11-19, 22:32

Neither Greek nor Russian is spoken that far away from the Persian-speaking world, so borrowings from Persian into both languages, especially through Turkic languages, are pretty unremarkable (compare استکان estekân 'glass, cup' and стака́н stakán 'drinking glass' or πορτοκάλι portokáli and پرتقال portoqâl, porteqâl 'orange'; Portoqâl also used to mean 'Portugal' in Persian) and don't strike me as strong evidence for sarape being a wanderwort. The paper that talks about the proposal of a Purépecha origin argues that there is basically no way this word could have traveled all the way from Persia to New Spain. Hellenicisms in Spanish were learned borrowings, so we'd expect it to be attested in Old Spanish literature, and it isn't. Sarapis is not a word in Latin at all, and sarrapis in Latin is a hapax legomenon (see here) and doesn't necessarily refer to any kind of clothing, let alone specifically a Persian tunic.

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Re: Interesting Etymologies

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-11-20, 1:38

vijayjohn wrote:Sarapis is not a word in Latin at all, and sarrapis in Latin is a hapax legomenon (see here) and doesn't necessarily refer to any kind of clothing, let alone specifically a Persian tunic.

I mentioned Latin sarapis because I had found it mentioned as a Latin word meaning “Persian tunic” in several Latin dictionaries (such as here, here, here and here) but I don’t know its history or how widespread it is, which is why I included the caveat “depending on when it entered Latin”. The earliest source I could find was from the 1700s, and I didn't really didn’t investigate it any further beyond those few sources. I don't consider what I found to be evidence of the origin of the word zarape, just a vague theory based on similar words in Latin if the timeline were to be right. But I do disagree with you that sarapis is not a Latin word at all. It appears in multiple Latin dictionaries ranging from an 18th-century Latin-German dictionary to the French version of the Latin Wiktionary, with the meaning "Persian tunic", so even though it's a Greek borrowing and could be too recent to have influenced the word zarape in Spanish, it is a Latin word.
Here’s another illustration of the problem: some dialects of Nahuatl have a word “saröpe” which means “sarape.” Some might be tempted to jump on that and say that they have finally found the origin of the word “sarape.” They might think: Wow, it must be a word of Nahuatl origin in Spanish, because look - Nahuatl has almost the same word, with the same meaning! But no, saröpe is actually a loan from Spanish.
Obviously we would need a source from the right time period (we won't find one for Nahua saröpe, but we haven't found one for Purépecha tsárakua or Latin sarapis either). The problem is that there aren’t any sources from the right time period that support any of the theoretical etymologies.
Basically, the origin of the word zarape / sarape is likely to remain unknown.What is known is that its widespread use was spread throughout Mexico after colonization, and that the names for indigenous garments in native languages of Mexico were often quite nuanced and varied (and unrelated to the word zarape; even the Purépecha theory doesn't involve a word for a garment, but rather a mat woven from reeds).

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Re: Interesting Etymologies

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-11-20, 16:48

Linguaphile wrote:I mentioned Latin sarapis because I had found it mentioned as a Latin word meaning “Persian tunic” in several Latin dictionaries (such as here, here, here and here)

The fourth link is just the same dictionary you linked to before, the third link cites the first link, and the first and fourth links both cite the same source, namely a comedy called Poenulus by the Roman playwright Plautus. As I just said (did you click on the link in my previous post?), Poenulus doesn't provide any evidence at all for sarapis referring to any kind of clothing or in fact even existing as a word in Latin. AFAICT the spelling that Plautus himself used was <sarrapis> and this otherwise isn't a word attested in Latin. The second link seems to cite a source in Greek, not Latin. I'm not sure what these dictionaries are supposed to prove. If indeed sarapis was a word in Latin referring to some kind of clothing, then there should be some actual textual evidence that it was used as a word, not a few random dictionaries compiled more than a thousand years after the language's death.

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Re: Interesting Etymologies

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-11-20, 17:55

vijayjohn wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:I mentioned Latin sarapis because I had found it mentioned as a Latin word meaning “Persian tunic” in several Latin dictionaries (such as here, here, here and here)

The fourth link is just the same dictionary you linked to before, the third link cites the first link, and the first and fourth links both cite the same source, namely a comedy called Poenulus by the Roman playwright Plautus. As I just said (did you click on the link in my previous post?), Poenulus doesn't provide any evidence at all for sarapis referring to any kind of clothing or in fact even existing as a word in Latin. AFAICT the spelling that Plautus himself used was <sarrapis> and this otherwise isn't a word attested in Latin. The second link seems to cite a source in Greek, not Latin. I'm not sure what these dictionaries are supposed to prove. If indeed sarapis was a word in Latin referring to some kind of clothing, then there should be some actual textual evidence that it was used as a word, not a few random dictionaries compiled more than a thousand years after the language's death.

I was just listing the sites I'd initially checked, not trying to seek out further sources, which is why one of the links also appeared in my earlier post.
As I explained, I haven't investigated further than that, because I don't think any amount of (my) research will reveal an undisputed etymolgy for sarape. Once I saw that, I stopped there.
So I certainly wasn't trying to "prove" anything. Quite the opposite. My links were just to explain why I thought sarapis was likely a word used in Latin at some point. When a quick search turns up multiple dictionaries that include it and that cite its use in those dictionaries as a legitimate source, that's not an illogical conclusion, even if a different source claims otherwise.
And again, I don't think any of the links can "prove" anything.


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