Wednesday, April 02, 2014

More Darja: sea creatures, folk tales, etc.

I’m just back from Algeria, with plenty of work to get to – but before they fade from my memory, here are a few more miscellaneous observations, written down on the plane with help from my notes...

On this trip I took the small, lavishly illustrated book Sea Fishes and Invertebrates of the Mediterranean Sea, by Lawson Wood (London: New Holland, 2002). It proved very useful for checking species identifications, a task I attempted earlier with mixed results in Souag (2005). Since I was on holiday, I didn’t attempt to track down fishermen and do a proper job of identification, but showing it to a cousin yielded the following lexicographical haul:

Previously unrecorded names: rbibət əs-səlbaħa ربيبة السلباحة (“eel’s stepdaughter”) “brittlestar” (Ophioderma longicauda); bu-jəɣləllu بوجغللّو (“snail”) “sea hare (Aplysia sp.)”; langušṭa لانڤوشطة “lobster”; ɣəṭɣuṭ غطغوط “damselfish (Chromis chromis)” (also used in the expression: kħəl ɣəṭɣuṭ كحل غطغوط “pitch-black”); šuṭ شوط “barracuda (Sphyraena sphyraena)”.

Names recorded in Souag (2005) without identification: ṭṛiʕ طريع “Neptune grass (Posidonia oceanica)”; šadiyya شادية “violet sea urchin (Sphaerechinus granularis)”; bərjəmbaluq برجمبالوق “comber (Serranus cabrilla)”; ẓṛiṛga زريرقة (“little green”) “rainbow wrasse (Coris julis)”; luq لوق “striped grouper (Epinephelus costae)”; kəħla كحلة (“black”) “saddled bream (Oblada melanura)”; ʕin əl-ħəjla عين الجلة (partridge-eye) “ornate wrasse (Thalassoma pavo)”; čalba تشالبة “cow bream (Sarpa salpa)”; buriyya بورية “boxlip mullet (Oedachilus labeo)”.

Names differently identified in Souag (2005): zarniyya زارنية “great amberjack (Seriola dumerili)” (previously: derbio or leerfish); čarniyya تشارنية “blue runner (Caranx crysos)” (previously: grouper).

Minor differences in identification: šaɣəṛ شاغر “white bream (Diplodus sargus sargus)” (previously: sea bream); bu-snan بوسنان (“toothy one”) “two-banded bream (Diplodus vulgaris)” (previously: young šaɣəṛ = sea bream); fərxa فرخة (originally “chick”) “dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus)” (previously: young čarniyya = grouper).

Confirmed: bu-zəllayəq بوزلاّيق (“slippery one”) “blenny (Parablennius sp.)”; qaṛuṣ قاروص “sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)”; gʷrəng ڤُرنڨ “conger eel (Congerconger)”; mustila موستيلة “forkbeard (Phycis phycis)”; ẓənkuṛ زنكور “wrasse (Symphodus sp.)” (previously: wrasse); ruži روجي (French rouget) “striped mullet (Mullus surmuletus)” (previously: mullet).

There are plenty of etymological difficulties among these, but clear non-French Romance loanwords include šaɣəṛ (Latin sargus), čarniyya and zarniyya (Latin acernia), čalba (Latin salpa), gʷrəng (Latin conger), and, judging by the š, langušṭa. bərjəmbaluq is from Turkish, cp. balık “fish”, but I still can’t identify the first part.

Moving from wild sea life to domestic animals, reminiscences of life before independence brought up a number of words I had rarely or never heard: nhəš نهش “bite (eg donkey)”, ṣǔkk صكّ “kick (with hind legs)”, ṣhəl صهل “bray”, ɣrəz غرز “stop giving milk (cow)”, tkəlləl تكلّل “curdle”, bəgṛa ṭṛiyya بڤرة طرية “a cow who has recently given birth”, ɣǔṛfa غرفة “1st story floor” (2nd story for Americans). yəmni يمني and šəlli شلّي for “right” and “left” were equally new to me; usually I’ve heard ymin يمين and šmal شمال, or feminine yəmna يمنى and yəsṛa يسرى.

The genre of folk tales is just about extinct in Dellys, as far as I can tell, but it too came up in a few reminiscences. A tongue-twister (say it ten times fast!) alludes to a short anecdote: dadda ʕaḅḅʷa lli ḅḅʷa l-bab دادّا عبّا اللي ابّوا الباب “Dadda Abba who carried the door on his back”. I’m unlikely ever to hear the tales of lunja bənt drig əl-ɣul لونجة بنت دريڨ الغول “Lunja daughter of Drig the monster” or bəgṛət l-itama بڤرة اليتامى “the orphans’ cow” in Dellys, but the fact that versions of them have been collected all over the Maghreb – such as this Kabyle version of Lunja summarised in English, or the song Tafunast igujilen –  is some consolation; indeed, a version of the latter tale is popular even in Siwa. From near the ending of the latter comes the following rhyme: when the orphan brother invites his sister to run up the ladder and escape the well, she says ħsən w-əlħusin fi ħəjri, ma nəqdər nəjri حسن والحسين في حجري، ما نقدر نجري“Hasan and Husayn (her twin sons) are in my lap, I can’t run”.

Usually I don’t take much interest in French loanwords, but I noticed one that looks as if it has undergone quite a curious semantic shift: puṭaži پوطاجي means “kitchen counter”, from French potager “kitchen garden” (or some non-standard dialect of French?) Behnstedt and Woidich report that in Biskra this form means “kitchen”; I wonder whether that is a further semantic shift or a misunderstanding.

Finally, to follow up on the last post’s themes, I found two more words which have retained Berber nominal affixes, again without plurals (pardon the etymology): taklufit تاكلوفيت “meddling”, tayhudit تايهوديت “malice”. (From my 2005 paper, I can also add the fig breed timəlwin تيملْوين, and the seaweed species tubrint توبرينْت). However, this strategy is quite atypical; much commoner is to drop the Berber affixes and substitute Arabic ones as appropriate, as in jəgjiga جڤجيڤة “dandelion” (Kabyle tajejjigt “flower”) or məjjir مجّير “mallow” (Kabyle məjjir).

1 comment:

Petre Norman said...

French potager also meant "kitchen stove" well into the 20th century.