Akkadian, Canaanite, Ugaritic: Octopus

Discussion in 'Other Languages' started by thelastchoice, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. thelastchoice Senior Member

    Arabic S.A.
    I would like to know what is the word for Octopus in ancient languages such Akkadian, Canaanite, Ugaritic.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2013
  2. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    Well, I doubt any of these languages would need a word for it, given that none of these languages were spoken near any ocean.
     
  3. origumi Senior Member

    Hebrew
    Most octopuses prefer coastal areas. AFAIK there are plenty of them in the eastern Mediterranean and in the Persian/Arab Gulf, although in both regions modern development hurts them.
     
  4. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    On what basis do you consider these languages ancient? And not other Semitic languages like your own Arabic and also Hebrew? Merely because they died out long ago?

    Also Hebrew is in fact a Canaanite dialect.

    So why do all Semitic languages lack a native term for it?
     
  5. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    I'm not sure if Akkadian had a term for "octopus". However, octopus means "eight-footed", and samāne šēpātum means "eight feet" in Akkadian. I'm not sure how you would create a noun meaning "(the thing with) eight feet", though.

    If you want to get creative, you could say "the fish with eight feet", which I think would be nūn samāne šēpātim (nūnum "fish" + samāne "eight" + šēpum "foot"), or you could replace the word "foot" with the word for "arm"/"flipper", giving nūn samāne isḫātim.

    In case it doesn't display on your screen, the third letter of isḫum "arm / flipper" is an "h"-like letter which is thought to have been pronounced like English "h" or Spanish "j".
     
  6. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Gavril,

    I think the question was aimed more at finding out if an originally Semitic word existed for this creature. The Arabic term for it is a borrowing, so I'm guessing the questioner wanted to know what the original Semitic term was, if one existed.

    It seems the Hebrew term תמנון (tamanun?) might be Semitic, although it seems it is originally Aramaic, not Hebrew. It looks like a portmanteau of the Aramaic words for eight and fish.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  7. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    The original question was, "I would like to know what is the word for Octopus in ancient languages such Akkadian, Canaanite, Ugaritic." I couldn't find an Akkadian term for "octopus" in the dictionaries I consulted, so I tried to supply one in case none exists yet. :)

    Google suggests it's pronounced tamnun.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  8. amikama

    amikama sordomodo

    ישראל
    עברית
    Actually tmanun (תְּמָנוּן), at least according to my dictionary. But to my best knowledge this word is modern, not found in ancient Hebrew.
     
  9. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    French

    :)

    Nice !

    I have gone through the 21 volumes of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary and ran a search in every volume. Octopus is nowhere to be found. This animal seems to be alien to Mesopotamian culture. It is corroborated by the fact that the animal gets only two mentions in the otherwise quite exhaustive History of the Animal World in the Ancient Near East, (ed. Billie Jean Collins):

    Are we getting a hint here that the name of these creatures might be indeed loans from Aegean cultures in Semitic languages???
     
  10. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    That is true for the Arabic, but the Hebrew (can't verify if it's the same in Aramaic) looks quite Semitic, specifically Aramaic.
     
  11. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    French
    If we are to trust the excerpt I quoted above, we might think that there must have been a word for those creatures in Ugaritic ( = proto-Canaanite / Phoenician according to some classifications), whether it was a loan or not. The Aramaic and Hebrew speaking people don't strike me as sea peoples. The only semitic speaking people who have a deep connection with the sea were the Ugaritians or the Phoenicians and yet not as much as for instance the Aegean peoples (Myceaneans, Minoeans).

    Is it impossible to ascertain if there actually was an Ancient Aramaic or Hebrew word for those creatures? If we are to believe amikama (post# 8) the word tmanun is a Modern creation in Hebrew??
     
  12. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    The word tmanun indeed comes from Aramaic and is indeed a modern word. As is the case in many modern Hebrew words, it is a weld of two words: tmania+nun.
     
  13. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    French
    Yes, thank you.

    So: It is a modern word in Hebrew.

    What about Aramaic. Is it a modern word in Aramaic too or an ancient one?
     
  14. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    It does not exist at all in Aramaic, even though the two separate words came from there.
     
  15. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    I very much doubt Ugaritic is considered proto-Canaanite by anyone anymore. All we have left of the Canaanite languages is Hebrew, and it doesn't seem to have any record of a native word. Phoenician is scarcely attested, in fact I think there's more Ugaritic inscriptions in existence than Phoenician ones.
     
  16. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    French
    Indeed many more inscriptions and tablets were found in Ugarit than in Phoenicia or Canaan. Ugarit stands out for its abundant mythological texts, contrasted to the abundance of administrative documents of Ebla for instance.

    By the way, I have also checked the Dictionary of Ugaritic by GREGORIO DEL OLMO LETE AND JOAQUÍN SANMARTÍN... No octopus there....
     
  17. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    French
    Thanks.
     
  18. thelastchoice Senior Member

    Arabic S.A.
    Thank you all for your rich feedback. Actually I was trying to find out if an originally Semitic word existed for this creature as Abu Rashid mentioned above. It seems that such word did not exist .
     

Share This Page