Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Scattered etymological notes

I'm posting these mostly so I don't forget them...

Algerian Arabic jəḥmum جحموم "blackbird", and its Kabyle counterpart ajeḥmum, derive from Classical Arabic yaḥmūm يحموم "soot-black". This otherwise very irregular change y- > j- is perfectly paralleled in another animal name of the form yaCCūC: jəṛbuʕ جربوع "jerboa" from yarbūʕ يربوع. Could this be the regular outcome of this particular template? We need to check if any other yaCCūC animal names have survived.

The Korandje word for "vulva", imən, looks phonologically like an obvious match for Berber iman "soul, self". However, I could never see any sufficiently clear connection between the two semantically. The missing link is provided by Colin's (1918:118) description of the Moroccan Arabic dialect of Taza: there, rōḥ is glossed as a euphemistic term for "vulve de la jument ou de la vache". Is this attested in Berber itself anywhere, I wonder?

Another Korandje word, tasənɣəyt, refers to a type of rock; after Paleolithic discoveries near Tabelbala, paleoarcheologists ended up giving its name to an Acheulian cleaver type, the "Tachenghit" cleaver. This seems to match Jijel Arabic ašənɣud "pierre lisse (pour broyer)" (Marçais 1954:333), although Hassaniya Arabic may offer a more direct point of comparison. I don't remember seeing this in any Berber dictionary so far; is that attested?