restricted access Chapter 9: Greek Borrowings from Egyptian Prefixes, Including the Definite Particles

From: Black Athena

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[CH. 9] GREEK BORROWINGS FROM EGYPTIAN 209 INTRODUCTION T his chapter deals with some Egyptian particles and reduced nouns that integrated with the nouns or verbs they were modifying to the extent that they were taken into Greek as simple words. English shows a similar pattern of borrowing. By far the most common derive from Arabic words beginning with the definite article >al: alchemy, alcohol, alcove, alfalfa, algebra, algorithm, alkali and almanac. With the assimilation of >al others, such as “assegai” and “aubergine,” can also be found. The first sections of this chapter treat the Egyptian definite articles. The development of pÅ, tÅ and nÅ n(y) was described above in Chapter 6.1 They were introduced from the southern dialect of Thebes, which became the national spoken language around the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty in the sixteenth century BCE. Northern Middle Egyptian remained the written standard. The situation in Late Egyptian became more complicated because of the development of three related paradigms . The first of these was as follows: Coptic Late Egyptian Accented Unaccented pÅy pai peit Åy tai tein Åy nai nein Å GREEK BORROWINGS FROM EGYPTIAN PREFIXES, INCLUDING THE DEFINITE ARTICLES CHAPTER 9 210 BLACK ATHENA These were stronger or more deictic than the articles, but unlike pn, tn, nn n(y) they were placed before the modified word not after it. In addition , pÅw may be another form of pÅy. The second paradigm is of the possessive article, which was also placed before the word it modified: Late Egyptian Coptic pÅy.f po– tÅy.f to– nÅy.f no– The third paradigm involves words meaning “he, she, they of ”:2 Late Egyptian Coptic p(Å) -n pÅ pa t(Å) -nt tÅ ta nÅy nÅ na With all these preposed articles it is not surprising that there were many different Greek renderings from the Egyptian. As the masculine gender gained on the feminine in Late Egyptian there are many more examples of transcriptions or accepted loans from pÅ and its variants than there are from tÅ and nÅ n(y).3 These loans are p, pa, pe, pi, and po; phe and ph. The last were usually, but not always, in the neighborhood of a laryngeal. /b/ and /ph/ can be added, if one accepts other correspondences with Egyptian p.4 Under the heading of the prefixes, Egyptian words will generally be ordered according to the Egyptological “alphabet”: Å, ˆ, Œ, w, b, p, f, m, n, r, h, h≥, h°, h, s, s+, q, k, g, t, t, d, d. This order will also be used in later chapters. GREEK BORROWINGS FROM EGYPTIAN DEFINITE ARTICLE PREFIXES Greek borrowings from Egyptian words beginning with the masculine singular definite article * pÅ ˆwn “the pillar, “Paihvwn Payawo in Linear B. Paie–o–n was a healing deity who later merged with Apollo.5 This word was one of the titles of Horus, the Egyptian counterpart of Apollo. One of Horus’ epithets was [CH. 9] GREEK BORROWINGS FROM EGYPTIAN 211 ˆwn mwt f “pillar of his mother.” This could be interpreted as “support of his mother.” Another title given to the god Min, KÅ mwt f “bull of his mother” suggests that it may mean something rather different. * pÅ ˆwntyw “the tribesman, bowmen” Paivone" (H) “people living to the north of Greece,” that is, in Thrace and later in Macedonia. The form ˆwntyw provides a plausible origin for [Iwne" Ionians.6 * pÅ ˆm “the groan” Pa–vn. See the discussion in Volume II.7 * pÅ ˆn “the fish” pavn (2CE) “Nile fish.” Thompson in A Glossary of Greek Fishes is quite clear about this Egyptian derivation.8 * pÅ ˆty “the sovereign” bavtto" (5CE) “ruler of Libya.” Chantraine states that this word comes from a “Mediterranean base.” * pÅ ˆd “the child “pai'", paidov" (H). Julius Pokorny sees pai as derived from an Indo-European root * po–u-, pEu-, pu\v- “small, few.”9 The English word “few” itself comes from it. Pokorny, Frisk and Chantraine—basing themselves on a name Pau" found on a vase and a Cypriot inscription with the name Filopa¸o"—have hypothesized a stem * pa¸ id and see it as linked with a zero grade to the Sanskrit putra and the Oscan puklum “son.” The linguist G. Neumann, however, challenged the idea that the digamma in these cases belonged to the root.10 If Neumann were followed , the whole etymology would collapse. There is a further difficulty in the lexicographers’ inability to explain the...


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