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Studies on Arabic Dialectology and Sociolinguistics

 | 
Catherine Miller
, 
Alexandrine Barontini
, 
Marie-Aimée Germanos
, 
et al.

Arabic Dialectology - Linguistic Descriptions

Persian Loanwords in Baghdadi Arabic

Ștefan Ionete

Résumé

Arabs and Persians never ceased to influence each other due to their proximity. This statement is also valid on a linguistic level, with the exchange particularly observable on the vocabulary. Mesopotamian Arabic was the most exposed to influence, being the closest neighbor of territories inhabited by Persian populations. For this study, I chose to analyze the Baghdadi Arabic as exponent of this dialectal group. Throughout the past centuries up until today, loanwords were transferred from one language into the other.

In my paper, I will analyze the phonetic and semantic transformations of Persian loans and their evolution in Baghdadi Arabic (i.e. the Persian čangāl, “fork”, formed a lexical family in Baghdadi Arabic with the verb čangāḷ, meaning “to fasten together”, “to hook together” and with the noun čingāḷ pl. čnāgīḷ meaning “hook”, “safety pin”, “fork”). Also, I will examine whether the loanwords are borrowed directly from Persian or through Ottoman Turkish, such as pušt, “someone with an ugly character”, from pușt, “scoundrel” <Turk. (Reinkowski, 1998: 242), which, in its turn entered Ottoman Turkish form Persian (pošt, “back”, “rear”). Thus, although the original word is Persian, its meaning in Baghdadi Arabic was altered by Ottoman Turkish.

My study is based on published dictionaries, phrasebooks and textbooks (such as: al-Hanāfī 1963, Alkım 1999, Anvari 2009 & Beene 2003) as well as on a corpus of data that I gathered in the past two years directly from Baghdadi Arabic speakers.

Entrées d'index

Texte intégral

1. Phonetic considerations

1Haim Blanc states that among the characteristics of the Mesopotamian qəltu-gələt dialects (1964:6-7), there is, also, the presence of the phonemes /p/ and /č/, due the large number of Persian and Turkish loanwords.

1.1. /p/ - voiceless bilabial stop

2While the voiceless bilabial stop /p/ is recorded in loans from other languages, such as English (e.g. plakk, “plug” from Eng.: plug, panyūn, from Eng.: pinion) (Bițună 2014: 67-68), its presence in Baghdadi Arabic (from now on, BA) is attributed to both Persian and Turkish loans (e.g. pāša “pasha”, “general”, from Turk.: pașa “general”, p̣āra “the smallest unit of Turkish money”, from Turk.: para “money”):

  • 1 In Old Arabic (OA), this word was adopted as fūlāḏ.

pāča “stew made of the head, feet, stomach and neck of an animal”

from Pers.:

kale pāče “dish made of the head and trotters of an animal”

pāya “leg”

from Pers.:

pā/pāy “leg”

puḫta “mush”

from Pers.:

poḫte “cooked”

pahlawān “circus performer”, “acrobat”

from Pers.:

pahlavān “champion”, “hero”

pūlād “high quality steel”

from Pers.:

pūlād “steel”1

3It is possible that in some words, the voiceless bilabial stop /p/ shifts into the voiced /b/, despite the fact that /p/ exists as a phoneme in BA:

bābūğ “slipper”

from Pers.:

pāpūš “slipper”

1.2. /č/ - voiceless palatal affricate

  • 2 BA stands for Baghdadi Arabic.

4The voiceless palatal affricate /č/ is, in many cases, an internal evolution of the voiceless velar stop /k/ into /č/ from Arabic roots (čaleb “dog” from OA kalb “dog”; čān “he was” from OA kāna) (Blanc, 1964: 25). However, its presence in BA2 is reinforced by Persian loans, where it is rendered as such:

čāra “cure”, “remedy”

from Pers.:

čāre “remedy”

čārpāya “bed”, “bedstead”

from Pers.:

čārpāye “stool”

čādir “tent”

from Pers.:

čādor “tent”

čārak “quarter”

from Pers.:

čārek “quarter”

1.3. /g/ - voiced velar stop

5While the voiceless post-velar stop /q/ often shifts into the voiced velar stop /g/ in Arabic roots (gāl “he said”, from OA la “he said”; galeb “heart”, from OA qalb “heart”), it also appears in Persian loans:

gīpa “stuffed lamb stomach dish”

from Pers.:

gīpe “stuffed sheep’s stomach dish”

guldān “vaze”

from Pers.:

goldān “vaze”

gēwa “cotton slippers”

from Pers.:

geyve “slippers”

ligan “large metal wash basin”

from Pers.:

lagan “basin”, “pan”

langa “bale”

from Pers.:

lenge “bale”

1.4. /v/ shifts into /w/

6The voiced labio-dental spirant /v/ is not a phoneme in BA, thus, in Persian loans it shifts from /v/ into the voiced, bilabial, velar, constrictive /w/:

pahlawān “circus performer”, “acrobat”

from Pers.:

pahlavān “champion”, “hero”

taḫtaruwān “sedan chair”,

from Pers.:

taḫterevān “palanquin”, “sedan chair”

gēwa “cotton slippers”

from Pers.:

geyve “slippers”

mēwa “fruit”*

from Pers.:

mīve “fruit”

7*The word mēwa also exists as mēwān , loaned together with the plural suffix -ān (e.g. salata mālt mēwān “fruit salad”). The word mewān also exists in Kurdish.

1.5. The diphthong /ay/

8Sometimes the diphthong /ay/, rendered as /ey/ in the original Persian, is contracted and shifts into the long middle unrounded vowel /ē/ in BA. The same situation also occurs with the OA diphthong /ay/ (e.g. OA: bayt “house” => BA: bēt “house”):

gēwa “cotton slippers”

from Pers.:

geyve “slippers”

šēraz – yišēriz “to sew a border around the edge (of a garment)”, “to stitch together the pages in a book”

from Pers.:

šīraze “head band (of a book)”

9I mention that the word šēraz is also recorded as šayraz, where the diphthong /ay/ is rendered as such (see also Grigore 2010: 60). The same rule applies to other loanwords from Persian:

mayḫāna “bar”

from Pers.:

meyḫāne “tavern”

čayḫāna “tea house”

from Pers.:

čayḫāne “tea house”

1.6. The diphthong /aw/

10The situation is similar with the diphthong /aw/ which is contracted and shifts into the long middle rounded vowel /ō/ (as in l-firdōs “Paradise”, from Pers.: ferdows “paradise”; it also happens with the OA diphthong, for instance mawz => BA: mōz “banana”):

čōdar – yičōdir “to pitch a tent”, “to make tent”

<=

čādir-čwādir “tent”

from Pers.:

čādor “tent”

tḫōrad – yitḫōrad “to treat”

<=

ḫwarda “generous”

cf. Pers.:

ḫār dādan “to give food and drinks”

11Here, the loanwords suffered modifications of morphological structures to achieve harmony with the established Arabic quadriconsonantal root system. Thus, the root for čōdar is č.w.d.r. (see čādir-čwādir). When inserted in the 1st stem quadriconsonantal verb pattern (fa‘lal), the result is čawdar*, hence čōdar.

12The same situation can be pointed out in the case of tḫōrad - yitḫōrad, where the root is ḫ.w.r.d. (see ḫwarda “generous”). When inserted in the 2nd stem quadriconconantal verb pattern (tfa‘lal), the result is tḫawrad*, hence tḫōrad.

13Sometimes, as it also happens with the diphthong /ay/, the diphthong /aw/, rendered as /ow/ in the original Persian words, remains unchanged, the same case being recorded with some OA words, such as fawḍā “anarchy” => BA fawḏ̣ā:

gawğa “a kind of large, light-colored, plum-like fruit”

from Pers.:

gowğe “greengage”, “plum”

1.7. Emphasizing of some consonants

14When the Persian words contains an open vowel, /a:/, or a middle vowel /o:/, the neighboring consonant have the possibility of becoming emphatic:

ḅādkēš “cupping”

from Pers.:

bādkēš “dry cupping”

ḅāzḅand “talisman worn on the upper arm”

from Pers.:

bāzūband “armlet”, “amulet”

pāṭa “even”

from Pers.:

pāt “stalemate”

ṣurmāya “capital”, “financial assets”

from Pers.:

sarmāye “capital”

ṭurši “pickles”

from Pers.:

torši “pickles”

15However, unlike English or Turkish loans, where /k/ posteriorizes and becomes /q/ when it is in proximity of a middle or a back vowel, in Persian loans the voiceless velar stop /k/ is rendered as such:

kūs “sparse beard”

from Pers.:

kūse “thin (of a beard)”

dumbuk - danābik “brass drum with skin head”

from Pers.:

tombak “one headed long drum”

balqūn – balqūnāt “balcony”

from Eng.:

balcony (Bițună 2014: 70)

qāṭ “floor”, “level”

from Turk.:

kat “floor” (Bițună 2014: 70)

16Here, due to the existence of a middle vowel following the voiceless dental stop /t/ in the Persian tombak, in BA it shifts into the voiced dental stop /d/.

17I mention that the words balqūn, qāṭ also occur in other dialects.

2. Morphological integration

18Persian and Arabic are typologically different from the point of view of their morphology. There are two possible types of integration of the loanwords in BA: either by receiving suffixes or by suffering modifications in order to achieve harmony with the established root system of BA.

2.1. Sound plurals

19Some of the Persian loans have the plural formed in -āt (the sound feminine plural morpheme):

parda – pardāt “curtain”

from Pers.:

parde “curtain”

dāya – dāyāt “wet nurse”

from Pers.:

dāye “wet nurse”

rūznāma – rūznāmāt “calendar”

from Pers.:

rūznāme “newspaper”, literally, “daily letter”

kār – kārāt “occupation”, “vocation”

from Pers.:

kār “work”, “job”

bībi – bībiyyāt “grandmother”

from Pers.:

bībi “grandmother”

patu – patuwāt “blanket”

from Pers.:

patu “blanket”

dīzi – dīziyyāt “small cooking pot”

from Pers.:

dīzi “small earthen pot”

20In other cases, the sound masculine plural -īn is also used (e.g. čarraḫ - čarraḫīn “lathe operator”). Besides these well-known and established plurals, in BA another sound plural is recorded formed with the morphemes -a/-īya (e.g. zabbāl - zabbāla “garbage man”) (McCarthy & Raffouli 1964: 126). The aforementioned suffix appears in loans from other languages, such as English (e.g. sapūrtar -sapūrtarīya „supporter”) (Bițună 2014: 73):

pahlawān – pahlawāniya “circus performer”, “acrobat”

from Pers.:

pahlavān “champion”, “hero”

tanbal – tanbaliya “lazy person”,

from Pers.:

tanbal “lazy”

čarraḫ – čarraḫa “lathe operator”

from Pers.:

čarḫ “wheel”

ḫurdafarūš – ḫurdafarūšīya “dealer in notions or miscellaneous small articles”

from Pers.:

harīd o forūš “transaction”, “buying and selling”

satami – satamiyya “bill of ladding”

from Pers.:

setami “bill of ladding”

quṣṣaḫūn – quṣṣaḫūniyya “story teller”

from Pers.:

qesseḫān “story teller”

21The word quṣṣaḫūn is a loan from a loan, the starting point being the OA noun qiṣṣa “story”, which, after entering Persian, formed an entire word family: qesse “story”, qesse ḫāndan “to tell a story”, qesseḫān “story teller”.

22Also, nouns that denote jobs and vocations formed, in BA, from a Persian loanword with the Turkish suffix for occupations -či, have their plural marked with the same suffix -a/-īya. I mention that these words exist in Turkish, as well, and it is possible that they are not derived internally in BA, but loaned as such:

ṭurušči - ṭuruščīya “pickles vendor”

cf. Turk.:

turșucu “pickles vendor”

cf. Pers.:

torši “pickles”

āšči - āščīya “cook”

cf. Turk.:

aşçı “cook”

cf. Pers.:

āš “soup”

2.2. Broken plurals

23The presence of broken plurals in the structure of Persian loanwords in BA indicates both the total assimilation of these words in the target language and their integration on triconsonantal and quadriconsonantal roots. In my research, I identified the following broken plural stems:

24C1C2āC3a

pūl – pwāla “piece (in backgammon, domino etc.)”, “small Persian coin”

from Pers.:

pūl “money”

root: p.w.l.

25C1C2āC3i

pūši – pwāši “veil”

from Pers.:

pūš “covering”

root: p.w.š

26C1C2ūC3

taḫat – tḫūt “upholstered chair”

from Pers.:

taḫt “throne”

root: t.ḫ.t.

čariḫ – črūḫ “wheel”

from Pers.:

čarḫ “wheel”

root: č.r.ḫ.

27C1uC2aC3

ğufta – ğufat “in dominoes, a piece with the same number on both ends”

from Pers.:

ğoft “pair”, “even number”

root: ğ.f.t.

lūla – luwal “pipe”, “tube”

from Pers.:

lūle “pipe”, “tube”

root: l.w.l.

28C1iC2aC3

čihra – čihar “ugly face”, “mug”

from Pers.:

čehre “face”

root: č.h.r.

29C1aC2āC3iC4

tanbal – tanābil “lazy person”

from Pers.:

tanbal “lazy”

root: t.n.b.l.

ḫānim – ḫawānim “a term of respectful address to a lady”

from Pers.:

ḫānom “lady”

root: ḫ.w.n.m.

namūna-namāyin “sample”, “specimen”

from Pers.:

nemūne “specimen”, “sample”

root: n.m.y.n.

30C1C2āC3īC4

ğōrāb – ğwārīb “pair of socks”, “stockings”

from Pers.:

ğūrāb “socks”

root: ğ.w.r.b.

čārak – čwārīk “a quarter”

from Pers.:

čārek (continuous of čahar yek) “quarter”

root: č.w.r.k.

sirdāb – srādīb “cellar”, “basement”

from Pers.:

serdāb “cellar”, “crypt”

root: s.r.d.b.

bābūğ – bwābīğ “slipper”

from Pers.:

pāpūš “slipper”

root: b.w.b.ğ.

31C1C2āC3iC4

čādir – čwādir “tent”

from Pers.:

čādor “tent”

root: č.w.d.r.

32In the collected data, I also identified a root formed with five consonants. I mention that, in the original Persian, the word kārḫāne “factory”, “studio” is obtained through the nominal composition of the nouns kār “work” and ḫāne “house”:

33C1aC2C3āC4iC5

karḫāna – karḫāyin “factory”, “workshop”, “brothel”

from Pers.:

kārḫāne “factory”, “studio”

root: k.r.ḫ.y.n.

2.3. Invariable loanwords

34The Persian language doesn’t possess the grammatical category of gender. Thus, a series of loanwords, either adjectives or adverbs, were borrowed as such, remaining invariable in BA:

puḫta “mush”

from Pers.:

poḫte “cooked”

pyāda “on foot”, “walking”

from Pers.:

piyāde “on foot”

tāza “fresh”, “new”

from Pers.:

tāze “fresh”, “new”

ḫwarda “generous”

cf. Pers.:

ḫār dādan “to give food and drinks”

ḫōš “good”, “excellent”

from Pers.:

ḫōš “good”, “pleasant”

sāda “plain”, “uniform”, “straight”

from Pers.:

sāde “simple”, “plain”, “pure”

2.4. Collective nouns

35Throughout my research, I identified a number of collective nouns, specifically names of fruit, which exist in BA, loaned from Persian, along with their nomina unitatis:

ālubālu “variety of large cherries resembling plums”

from Pers.:

ālūbālu “black cherry”

ālubāluwwa – ālubāluwwāt

nomens unitatis of:

ālubālu “variety of large cherries resembling plums”

ālūča “a variety of dried plums”

from Pers.:

ālūče “damson”

ālūčaya –’ālūčayāt

nomens unitatis of:

ālūča “a variety of dried plums”

gawğa “a kind of large, light-colored, plum-like fruit”

from Pers.:

gowğe “greengage”, “plum”

gawğāya – gawğāyāt

nomens unitatis of:

gawğa “a kind of large, light-colored, plum-like fruit”

kišmiš “raisins”

from Pers.:

kešmeš “raisins”

kišmiša – kišmišāt

nomens unitatis of:

kišmiš “raisins”

2.5. Verbs of BA with Persian origin

36Arabic didn’t loan verbs from Persian directly because the verbal morphology is very different, rather it developed words from other loans, such as nouns or adjectives, obtaining denominative verbs. They are integrated in either triconsonantal or quadriconsonantal verb stems.

37The triconsonantal verbs identified are the following:

38Derived on the 1st stem:

čiraḫ - yičraḫ “to turn on a lathe”

<=

čariḫ “wheel”

from Pers.:

čarḫ “wheel”

kiraḫ - yikraḫ “to dredge”

cf.

Pers.: Karḫe “river in Ḫūzestān, Iran”

39Derived on the 2nd stem:

pawwaš – yipawwiš “to cause to wear the veil”, “to veil”

<=

pūši “veil”

from Pers.:

pūši “veil”

ğaffat – yiğaffit “to rebuild a motor”

<=

ğufta “in dominoes, a piece with the same number on both ends”

from Pers.:

ğoft “pair”

40In Persian, the noun ğoft “pair” forms the verb ğoft kardan with the primary meaning of “to pair”, “to match”. The same verb has other secondary bearings, such as “to invent”, “to fit or join together”. It is possible that the acceptation of the verb ğaffat – yiğaffit “to rebuild a motor” in BA to be derived from one of the secondary meanings of the Persian verb ğoft kardan.

41Derived on the 3rd stem:

pāwak – yipāwik “to settle a debt”, “to pay back”

<=

pāk “even”

from Pers.:

pāk “clean”, “pure”

42Derived on the 5th stem:

43The 2nd stem verbs can also serve as a basis for the production of reflexive verbs, integrated to the 5th stem.

tpawwaš – yitpawwaš “to veil oneself”, “to wear a veil”

<=

pūši “veil”

from Pers.:

pūši “veil”

44Derived on the 6th stem:

45The same situation as that of the 2nd stem occurs in the case of the 3rd stem verbs which serve as a basis for the production of reflexive verbs, integrated to the 6th stem.

tpāwak – yitpāwak “to settle with each other”, “to settle up”

<=

pāk “even”

from Pers.:

pāk “clean”, “pure”

46The quadriconsonantal verbs that I identified throughout my research are the following:

47Derived on the 1st stem:

čōdar – yičōdir “to pitch a tent”, “to make tent”

<=

čādir-čwādir “tent”

from Pers.:

čādor “tent”

čangaḷ “to fasten together”

<=

čingāḷ “hook”, “fork”

from Pers.:

čangāl “fork”

pardaġ “to shave closely”

cf.

Pers.: pardāḫtan “to polish”

(Grigore 2010: 58)

šēraz – yišēriz “to sew a border around the edge (of a garment)”, “to stitch together the pages in a book”

from Pers.:

šīraze “head band (of a book)”

48The verb čangaḷ “to fasten together” formed, in BA, a word family along with the noun čingāḷ pl. čnāgīḷ “hook”, “fork”. Although the meaning of the word čangāl is, in Persian, “fork”, its acceptation in BA was altered by the Ottoman Turkish çengel “hook”. There are other similar situations, such as the noun pušt “someone with an ugly character”, loaned, in BA, from pușt “scoundrel” (Turk.), which, in its turn, was borrowed by Turkish from the Persian pošt “back”, “rear” (Reinkowski, 1998: 242).

49Derived on the 2nd stem:

tḫōrad – yitḫōrad “to treat”

<=

ḫwarda “generous”

cf. Pers.:

ḫār dādan “to give food and drinks”

tqarmaz – yitqarmaz “to become red”

<=

qirmizi “red”, “crimson”

from Pers.:

qermez “red”

50The word qermez “red” also exists in Turkish: kırmızı “red”. The color was originally obtained from a worm. Its scientific denomination is given by this very word, qermez: kermes ilicis, from the family with the same name, kermesidae.

51A series of 1st stem quadriconsonantal verbs present in BA are derived from onomatopoeia that are common with Persian. While their origin is unclear due the nature of onomatopoeia, I consider some worthy of mention:

baqbaq – ybaqbuq “to bubble”, “to gurgle”, “to cluck”

cf.

Pers.: baġbaġu “cooing”

ğaẓğaẓ - yiğaẓğuẓ “to squeak”

cf.

Pers.: ğezğez “frizzing or crackling noise”

ḫamḫam - yiḫamḫum “to become spoiled, tainted”, “to loaf, lounge”, “to rummage, fumble about”

cf.

Pers.: ḫamḫam “in a stooping posture”

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Notes

1 In Old Arabic (OA), this word was adopted as fūlāḏ.

2 BA stands for Baghdadi Arabic.

Auteur

University of Bucharest, Department of Arabic, Romania

© Institut de recherches et d’études sur les mondes arabes et musulmans, 2019

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