Monday, April 9, 2012

Malabar at Zanzibar

Two super-stars of  malayalee cinema
Mammootty and Mohanlal
                      Suivre en français ici

      In French, the word malabar is used to designate a man who is physically strong and well built, a muscle man, so to speak.  This word has been transmitted to us French through the sailors, because in its primary meaning, a malabar is a docker, whom the western sailors have come across in the Easten harbours and who originates from the Malabar coast in India.  This region belongs to the Indian State of Kerala, and derives its name from the malayalam  മലബാര്‍ /malabār/,  itself derived from  the ethnonym /malay/ meaning « inhabitant of Kerala ; one who speaks malayalam ».

    But the very root of this word comes from the proto-dravidian word  /*màl/ ( മല  /mala/  in malayalam, மலை /malay/  in tamil...)  meaning « mountain, hill », since the state of Kerala is delimited by the sea on one side and by a hilly area on the other, which serves  as a natural border.

    When we French people hear the word malabarwhat immediately comes to our mind is the thick pinkish chewing gum that we call malabar, which became popular in the 1970s, and whose icon is a non Keralite body-built blond muscle-man.  The relationship between the chewing gum and its muscled icon underlines how strong a jaw we need to chew this gum !

    The words Malaysia and Malaysian  could as well be derived from the dravidian « mala », although another hypothesis states the name of the Melayu river located on the nearby island of Sumatra as a more probable origin.

     The second part of the word malabar probably originates from the arabic  برّ /barr/ « land, country », which is used in other toponyms, as is the case for Zanzibar whose persian name زنگبار /zangibār/ comes from the arabic  زنجبرّ /zanjbar/  meaning « the land of the blacks (زنج /zanj/)».

    Moreover, the Spanish word barrio « slum » was borrowed  from the arabic  برّيّة /barriyat/ « open land».

    From this same root comes the catalan barri, which designates a place which is inhabited outside the city, from which are derived the French pyrenean patronym Dubarry and its counterparts Barielle, Barriol or Barrios.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Boutique, magazine and Makhzen

Boutique is a word borrowed from the Greek άποθήκη /apothêke/ "place of deposit" in which the word θήκη /thêke/ means "box". The Provencal botica acted as an intermediary between Greek and French and we find the word in Spanish bodega with the modern sense of "cave" or "attic". The word's secondary meaning can also be "wine shop".

We find the same idea of "place of deposit" in the word of Arabic origin magazine "military depot for arms". Arabic مخزن /makhzan/ "warehouse store" stems from the root خزن /khazana/ which means "store" and in French it takes the sense of "shop" (magasin). 

By extension, the word magazine came to designate a book in which were recorded military stockpiles before it began displaying other informations. Leaving only the end of the word magazine, modern industry has formed the words fanzine and webzine. 

The word Makhzen is the same Arabic word for "warehouse" and is used in Morocco to designate the Moroccan power and all which is related to it. Since the events of the Arab spring, this term is tainted with a conservative and backward-looking connotation. 

Tudjman the Dragoman

The word dragoman which is the name of this blog is a bit outdated, especially in its original meaning as an interpreter. The dragoman was the official interpreter of a Western country with a Middle Eastern power and vice versa. The dragomans were trained in France at École des Jeunes de Langues, ancestor of the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations​​, ​​INALCO in Paris.
This word was borrowed from Arabic ترجمان /turjumān/ "interpreter" from the root ترجمة /tarjama/ "translate".
 It remained a place name : Драгоман Dragoman, a small city in Bulgaria, and familly names such  Tordjman and Tuđman /tudjman/ as in the case of Franjo Tudjman, first Croatian president.
In French language we kept the sentence par le truchement de "through, via something or somebody"

A dragoman introduced the Persian envoy Mirza Mohammed Reza Qazvini to Napoleon in a painting of Francois Mulard

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pagoda in Baghdad, Bogdanov the Bogomile, baksheesh and baldachin

In 765 the second Abbasid Caliph Al-Mansur decided to create his new capital to which he gave the Persian name Baghdad. The word بغداد Baghdad /baġdad/ consists of two words meaning "God-given".
The first comes from the Old Persian /baga/ "god", itself derived from the Indo-European root  /*bhag-/ "to share, to distribute." It is this root that gave the Sanskrit भाग /bhāga/ "good fortune, prosperity, lord" extended to भागवत /bhāgavata/ "relative to God" and the origin of the name of one of the essential books of Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita भगवद्गीता  About this sound  "singing of the Divine". The word pagoda is certainly the tamil pronunciation of the same भागवत /bhāgavata/ and then designated the goddess Kali. The Portuguese altered the sense to give it to a place of pagan worship.
The Indo-European root /*bhag/ has also produced the Avestan /baẖš-/ from where comes the Persian بخشش /bakhšiš/ "a bribe, a gift" later borrowed by Arabic بقشيش /baqšīš/.

To illustrate how European languages ​​and the Indo-Iranian languages ​​are close, we can add to this list the Russian word бог /bog/ "god" that is found in other Slavic languages ​​(Croatian, Polish ). It is a component of Slavic family names
- The name Богдан Bogdan (God-given) carried by several
Moldovan kings and currently used by a Ukrainian industrial company, producer of vehicles.
- Surname Богданов Bogdanov (feminin Богданова Bogdanova) is widespread in Russia.
- The name Bogomil Богомил "Dear to God", including one worn by the 10th century Bulgarian priest at the origin of a current Gnostic (Bogomilism) may be the cause of the Cathar movement, and is considered heretical by the Roman Church.

The craftsmen of Baghdad produced a fabric that Italians called Baldacchino in reference to the city known by the Tuscans as Baldacco "Baghdad". From here came the english word baldachin "canopy of state" and french baldaquin.

The second part of the word Baghdad, ie /dad/ "given" is the past participle of the Persian word رارن /dâdan/ "to give", derived from the Indo-European root /*dō/ 'to give'. From here also comes the French word "donner" (latin donar) or Russian дать / dat '/ 'to give', origin of the word дача /dača/ About this sound dacha was - before it becomes a "country cottage" - a "donated land" as a reward.