Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Istanbul, bishops, Rohingya, and Tamezret

For this week, I thought I'd share two curiously parallel reanalyses I've come across recently:
  • Istanbul, apparently, derives from the Greek phrase eis ten polin, "in the city";
  • 'usquuf, "bishop" in Arabic, which apparently derives from a Coptic reinterpretation of Greek episkopos "bishop" as e-pi-skopos "to the skopos", due to which skopos was reanalyzed as meaning "bishop".

And a couple of interesting language sites I've come across: is a speaker's effort to promote the Rohingya language. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group of the western coast of Burma. Like virtually all Burma's inhabitants, they have been seriously mistreated by the government. Apparently, their language is most closely related to (a dialect of?) Chittagongian Bengali. If anyone figures out what the acute accent is meant to indicate, do tell me... (in French) is all about the endangered Berber language of Tamezret in southern Tunisia, written by a descendant of speakers. Though he's not a trained linguist, this qualifies as quite an important documentation effort in its own right; as far as I know, the only other thing ever published on the Tamezret dialect was Märchen der Berbern von Tamzratt im Süd-Tünisien in 1900, more than a century ago.


David Boxenhorn said...

As for reanalyses I always liked Alexandria - الإسكندرية

David Boxenhorn said...

From here:

Rohingya'lish Vowels

Six Normal Vowels a e i o u ou
Six Stressed Vowels á é í ó ú óu
Six Compound Vowels ai ei oi ui au wa
Six Stressed Compound Vowels ái éi ói úi áu wá

David Boxenhorn said...

Also from here:

The pronunciation of each soft sound can be represented with an English phrase “On Februari Tour” where Februari means the month February. Another similar one is “Put America on Tour”.

Farid Zadi said...

Salaam Aliekoum mon frere

What happened to your Algerian darja site? I need it badly for reference.

Do you know the origins of mazza? Is it derived from Persian?

You know I started my own food forum. There are several food scholars there. Including two who are reknowned experts on Arabic and Moorish culinary history.

We need your linguistic expertise!

Farid Zadi said...

Have you read Turks, Moors and Englishman in the Age of Discovery?

Amjid said...

Istanbul is a corrupted name for the city of Islambul. Constantinople (during the Byzantine Empire) was re‑named Islambul by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II. Islambul is a Turkish expression meaning "where Muslims are plentiful/flourising", the meaning is pretty similar to Islamabad. Istanbul has no relevant meaning. The closest expression is a Greek one, Eistanpolin, meaning "towards the city!" or as you said "in the City". There sre still many turkish people who refer to the city as Islambul.

Hiperpoliglota said...


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Alex said...

Actually, eis tin poli is a mistake, mostly made, I am afraid to say, by Greeks. If you look at the history of the name of Istanbul, the Turks gradually changed the name over time (you can see this on coins) and originally called it Qustantiniyya after Constantine/Konstantinopolis. It is not difficult to see how:

koNSTAntinoPOLis becomes iSTANBUL, particularly when the k/q sound is often dropped for example in Egyptian Arabic.

Interestingly the Turks called the city ISLAMbul, for a part of its history, but not for long!


David Marjanović said...

I've read that "is ten polin" is a misinterpretation and that the actual source is "i Konstantinu polis" ("the city of Constantine"), the once very common Byzantine Greek reanalysis of "Konstantinopolis" ("Constantine-City").

Could someone explain the reanalysis of Alexandria?

David Marjanović said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention:

Märchen der Berber von Tamzratt in Süd-Tunesien. (I'd eliminate the hyphen, but those were a bit more common in 1900.)

I don't understand why, but somehow, nobody who doesn't speak it seems able to correctly cite German. :^)

Lameen Souag said...

Well, now we have three etymologies of Istanbul to choose from :) I'll have to look into this. Al- being the Arabic definite article, Aleksandria > > Al-'iskandariyya (don't ask me why ks > sk.) My homepage is still down (I can't even log in); I've asked GeoCities to fix it, but no explanation has been forthcoming, so I may simply host it somewhere else.

language said...

I just blogged this post; here's what I had to say about the city name:

On Istanbul, the more commonly accepted explanation these days is that it's derived directly from the Greek name Konstantinopolis, but as Pospelov says, there's no actual evidence, and the forms are too divergent to allow us to simply assume the change. (The artificial Turkish form Islambol 'filled with Islam' is simply a folk etymology.)

Eng M. Siddique said...

There are 10 basic sounds which are the building blocks of all Rohingya words used in Rohingya dialect. These 10 basic sounds can be divided into two categories (a)six straight sounds which can be represented by a, e, i, o, u and ou and, (b) four circular sounds which can be represented by ai, ei, oi, and ui.

Again where ever you want to stress the six straight sounds should be á, é, í, ó, ú and óu while the four circular sounds should be ái, éi, ói, and úi.

In Rohingyalish there are 3 colurings which exactly tune the way Rohingya people speak.

The first coloring is either to stress or to be soft. Accented vowels are used for stress sounds and normal vowels are used for soft sounds as shown above.

The 2nd coloring is either to be brief or to extend the sound. One single vowel is used for brief sound and double vowels are used for extending (pulling horizontally) the sound. e.g do=give and doo=knife.

The 3rd coloring is the combination of the two aove. In as a word we might need to extend as well as to stress. e.g
gaa=body, gaá=sing, and gáa=infection. In the first word it is pure extending, the 2nd word need to extend as well as stressing at the end, the 3rd word need to extend as well as stressing at the begining.

By Engr. M. Siddique

Anonymous said...

Rohingya Language (Rohingyalish)

By the way when I last time mentioned the ten basic sounds (which are the building blocks of the whole Rohingya dialect), what I mean here is ten basic vowels; 6 straight-sound vowels and 4 circular-sound vowels. Straight sounds vowels are two kinds the soft one and the stressed one. The soft are written as a, e, i, o, u, ou and the stressed are á, é, í, ó, ú, óu. Please note that the last one is the dual char vowel and in the stress-form only the 1st vowel is accented not both.

The six circluar vowels are again divided into two groups-the soft and the stressed which are represented as ai, ei, oi, ui for soft and ái, éi, ói, úi for stressed. Here again only the 1st vowel char is accented not both (i.e ái and not áí.)

Each vowel type holds one particular sound only without any variation in all words. These can be represented as "Ask Eleven-India For Full Tour.

By Engr M.Siddique

Anonymous said...

oh and how about the langguage of the people before the egyptians. (they were written about them by the egyptians)Their languages has not been decoded before however they wereof coptic blood i think
so the language would be quite similar to theirs

Anonymous said...

ISLAMBUL was definitely used as the original name for Istanbul. Please look at the following link

This coin the British Museum is from 1730 has "Struck in ISLAMBUL" on oneside. Those who can read Arabic script can click on the picyure for a close-up.

It still amazes me the vigour of some Turks who wish to forget their past and pretend they had nothing to do with Islam. Once feared by Europe as a great power, now they are reduced to begging to be allowed into the EU...

rohingya language said...

Rohingyalish, the modern writing system of Rohingya people of Arakan, Burma (Myanmar) has been recently recognized by ISO, International Organization for Standardization as being one of the unique languages of the world. The offical announcement has been released on Jul 18, 2007 by SIL who is the only authorized Registration Authority (RA) of ISO for registering world languages and giving ISO standard code. The language code for Rohingya is ISO 639-3 "rhg" and for Chittagonian is ISO 639-3 "ctg" a change from previously recognized code ISO 639-3 "cit".