Sunday, February 10, 2013

another nod

More ill than usual these days, I have spent my time today in bed reading the OED. As I have mentioned before in this blog, the treatment of Sanskrit in the etymologies of the OED is often a little careless. Today I came across the OED's etymology for kirpan, "the sword or dagger worn by Sikhs as a religious symbol."
Panjabi and Hindi kirpān, < Sanskrit kṛpaṇa, sword. 
Actually the Sanskrit word kr̥pāaḥ, "sword, sacrificial knife," has a long ā too. Punjabi kirpān and Hindi kr̥pān, by their form, must be learned borrowings, not the organic descendants of the Sanskrit through Middle Indic. Panini apparently derives the Sanskrit word from the root of kalpáyati, "he orders, apportions, cuts, trims," whose Indo-European antecedents are disputed. Kalpa is also one of the Finnish words for sword--perhaps one of the early Indo-Iranian loanwords in Uralic? 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

not clear as crystal

After pointless hours of research, I would do anything to know how Persian ‏شيشه šiše “glass”, from Middle Persian <šyšk> “flask, bottle” (cf. Armenian շիշ šiš "bottle”) might be related to Mishnaic Hebrew אֶשֶׁשׁ “crystal ball, light reflector” and Jewish Babylonian Aramaic  אֲשׁׅישָׁא “jug”. Someone somewhere has suggested such a relationship. Someone somewhere has also suggested a relationship of all these to Middle Egyptian šs “alabaster”.  Did the Iranian word originally designate a flask of semiprecious material for holding perfumes? Sorani has شووشه  šûšand Kurmanji şûşe, and this vocalism is also found in Georgian შუშა šuši. (In this semantic sphere, later Assyrian has a luliu “slag of glass” and later Babylonian lulimtu “a jewel(?)”. That there are exchanges between š [sometimes reflecting Proto-Semitic lateral *] and lateral l in the languages of the region is well known.)