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Arabic: ghurab (crow) is semitic or IE?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Treaty, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. Treaty Senior Member

    Australia
    Persian
    Hi!

    In Arabic, غراب ghurab (or ghorab) is used for different types of crow (and magpie). I wonder if it has any relation to IE words like crow (En), corbeau (Fr) and cuervo (Es)? Or is it just deriven from the animal's sound? Or is it another word by غ.ر.ب (gh-r-b) root related to غروب (sunset) or غریب (strange)?

    Thanks.
     
  2. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    The Romance words are from Latin corvus. Many languages in different families have a word beginning with k-r- (or the like) for “crow”. This is usually explained as onomatopoeic, imitating the sound made by the crow. The b in the Arabic form seems to be a very ancient Semitic marker for animal names (as in Arabic ϑaʻlab, kalb).
     
  3. origumi Senior Member

    Hebrew
  4. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    On the other hand, I find it difficult to identify the Semitic ɣ-r- as onomatopoeic, with or without the final -b.
     
  5. Treaty Senior Member

    Australia
    Persian
    Thanks all.
    I am really curious to know how you imitate a crow's sound in German. Because in Persian and Turkish the sound of crow is ɣar or gar.
     
  6. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    [kɣa:] or [kʁa:] (spelled kra; the German "r" very close to "ɣ"; its realizations in modern Standard German are [ɣ], [ʁ] or [ʀ]). For me it breaks the association with the sound of a crow, if you have a fricative rather than a plosive in the beginning.

    (Also, in Turkish the name of the bird is karga and not *ğarga, i.e. with with a plosive (k) and not with a fricative (ɣ) in the beginning.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  7. origumi Senior Member

    Hebrew
    Not necessarily for any crow and raven. If you listen to the recordings here http://www.shades-of-night.com/aviary/difs.html, there's no clear "k" in the crow's sound. This takes us to the question which sub-genus of genus corvus the Proto-Semites were exposed to.
     
  8. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    There is fairly long list of words for “crow” in the Wiktionary entry for this word. If we exclude the IE and Semitic languages, a very large majority of those listed have words beginning with a guttural (usually /k/, less commonly /g/, or labialised), followed mostly by /a/, then only rarely /r/ (Turkic, Mongolian, Japanese), often reduplicated (/kaka/ or the like).
     
  9. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I guess you meant "velar or guttural" as /k/ and /g/ aren't guttural. /k/ and /ɣ/ are both velar. My problem is the fricative rather than plosive beginning in Arabic which, after all we know, was already a fricative in PS.
     

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