etymology of bardak (ברדק)‎

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by Nunty, Jan 27, 2007.

  1. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Moderator Note: This thread has been split off from a thread about Russian borrowings in Hebrew. Nun-Translator's comment relates to a list of Hebrew words that are purportedly of Russian origin.

    I don't know about the others, but a friend who speaks the language told me that bardak is Turkish in origin and means brothel.
  2. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Hello Sister,

    Bardak is indeed Turkish and means glass, not brothel. Word for the brothel is genelev.
  3. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Thanks. I wonder how she or I got that confused... I don't suppose it's slang? In Hebrew it means a hopeless tangle -- of circumstance, things and/or incompetence
  4. Macnas Junior Member

    English and Russian, United States
    No, she got it right. Bardak does mean something like "glass" in Turkish, and it was loaned into Russian with that same meaning. However, in Russian its meaning later changed to that of "brothel" (I'm not sure how... That seems like a strange shift), and colloquially has adopted the meaning of "mess" or "disorder". This is what was Hebrew borrowed.
  5. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Now it rings a bell!

    In Azerbaijani, a Turkic language, a prostitute is called bardak. I assume bardak has been borrowed by Russians and changed in the meaning, then Hebrew got it from Russians, not to mention the fact that Azeris have a long history of relation with Russians.
  6. Maroseika Moderator


    This confusion is lightly explicable.
    Russian bardak has nothing to do with the Turkish one. In Russian this word has two senses:
    1. Bardak - colloq. diminutive from Russian bordel' - brothel.
    2. Bardak - a mess < bardak - soldier haversack < French barda < Arab bardah - saddle sack.
    The sense of a mess is because in a sack all things use to be in a total mess.
    The 2 homonyms (bardak) might influnce each to other because in the brothel it's also a mess, more or less...
    Whether there is any connection between Arab bardah and Turkish bardak - it's another question, but has nothing to do with the modern Hebrew word, I guess.
  7. albondiga Senior Member

    On the topic of bardak, this page has more about the other word for "mess" that was borrowed from Russian into Hebrew (I'm referring to balagan, of course)...

    Also, on the topic of the supposed shifts in meaning that happened with bardak on it's way from Russian into Hebrew, the same page also has some notes about the word brothel/bordel/bordello itself following a similar shift in meaning between other languages...
    ...although Maroseika's post implies that this shift didn't happen exactly this way with the word bardak, so I don't know if I should make anything of it...
  8. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Ah, of course. I'd forgotten about the French expression, since it's not one that is much used in my immediate environment. :rolleyes:

    But still, Chazzwozzer, can you tell us how "glass" in Turkish became "prostitute" in Azerbaijani?

    There are still a few Turkish loan words used in modern Hebrew, left from the end of the Ottoman reign here, at which time Palestinian Jews (like my grandparents) were starting to use Hebrew as the language of daily discourse. That being the case, I wonder: could bardak have been used in Turkish in this same sense? Were there perhaps Azerbaijani functionaries of the Ottoman Empire working in this region?
  9. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    When I say glass/bardak, I mean the drinking container, not the other meaning, by the way.

    Well, actually, I believe bardak, as used in Turkish and Azerbaijani, is a Turkic word, not of foreign origin. People in the villages still call pots bardak, which gives us a clue on its usage in the ancient times. Turkic peoples in Central Asia, before they immigrated to the other lands, might have aleady been using this word, thus there was no borrowing from Turkish, as this word wasn't coined by Turks of Turkey

    Of course, over the years, this word could have acquired new meanings and as a result of living long years with other nationalities together under the Soviets, it's also very possible that some languages borrowed the word.

    I know it hasn't been an exact answer to your question, but I'm totally clueless on that here.

    I don't think so. Ottomans had never had brotherls until 1858, which was never legal until that time either, as they never needed. Well, there's still a possibility that they called those places bardak, as a codename.

    That's a good question. I'll just mail and ask it to my history teacher. I can also ask the etymology of bardak, as he knows a lot about word origins.
  10. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Wow, talk about help "above and beyond...". Thanks.
  11. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    Long time, I know. But still... :)

    The word bardak is indeed Turkic. Bart, in 11th century, meant a water pot.

    But, neither my teacher nor any of his friends could come up with an answer to your question about Azeri workers, unfortunately.
  12. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Chazzwozzer, you are a marvel! Thank you, and please thank your teacher and his friends, too. Bravo, bravo, bravissimo!

  13. scriptum

    scriptum Senior Member

    Israel / Hebrew, Russian
    But is there any etymological tie between the Turkish bardak and the Russian one? I doubt it.
    The etymology of the Russian word seems to me pretty clear. It's the French "bordel" russified (-el replaced by the Russian suffix -ak; no difference in Russian between "a" and "o" in an unaccented syllable).
    The relationship between "brothel" and "mess" is obvious, too: brothel is a disorderly house.
  14. HUMBERT0

    HUMBERT0 Senior Member

    I know the connection, if any, is distant. However it’s interesting…
    One meaning of Barda besides a fence (Unknown origin of the word with this meaning) in Spanish, and a harness to protect horses, with this meaning it comes to us from Italian, which in turn comes from classical Arabic.

    (Del it. barda, y este del ár. clás. barda‘ah).
    1. f. Arnés o armadura de vaqueta o hierro con que se guarnecía el cuerpo de los caballos para su protección en la guerra y en los torneos.

    And, someone mention brothel, well I found Bordello. Etymology: Italian, from Old French bordel, from borde hut, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English bord board.
  15. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    The only time when I came across the use of 'bardak' in this sense was when I was reading one of Erich Maria Remark's novels (in translation, of course), and it really surprised me. In modern Russian this word is used only for 'disorder'.
  16. Spectre scolaire Senior Member

    Moving around, p.t. Turkey
    Maltese and Russian
    My contribution to this thread comes in two parts.

    This is part I.

    I have some comments, if I may intrude into this partly terra incognita... I don’t know any Hebrew (only the alphabet, but a fair amount about Jewish socio-linguistics!), and my Russian is fragmentary and passive; my father was a Russian. I hope that the moderator will excuse me for any perceived obscenities in the following; I might appear somewhat blunt.

    Of course, Chazzwozzer (and his teacher!) are entirely right (cf. #11) in postulating bardak as a Turkish word. I think he is also right in assuming that:

    I support this theory, and I’ll try to elaborate on it.

    As for the loanword status of Russian бардак, there is a very comprehensive book (in Russian) about Turkish (and Tatar) loanwords. Ill try to find the title, but for the time being I am 8000 km away from my library... The word must be listed in this book – with its two meanings! Here is another source:

    These meanings are basically corroborated by Maroseika:

    -but I don’t quite follow her in her fanciful etymologies, nor when she claims that:

    The following claim is in contradiction with both Maroseika and the above quoted dictionary entry:

    There seems, however, to be no doubt that:

    -and I am also convinced that albondiga is right in making an association with French bordel!

    As Chazzwozzer had already pointed out, Turk. bardak also has another meaning. In #9 he writes “pot”, but “jug, pitcher” may be a better translation, cf. Turkish toprak testi, “earthenware jug”. This meaning is obsolete in today’s Turkish, but one might still find it in some dialects – Derleme Sözlüğü, the 23 vol. Turkish dialect dictionary may have recorded it. An indirect record is Modern Greek μπαρντάκι (or dialectally [bardač] by palatalization of the k) which means exclusively a “jug”, and never a “glass”. This word is also obsolete in today’s Standard Modern Greek, but it was obviously borrowed at a time when the meaning “jug” was common in Turkish. This also seems to be the Old Turkish meaning of bart (which received a diminutive suffix –(E)k). There is no reason to believe that the semantic change from “jug” to “glass” operated in Greek because 1) in Old Turkish bart was already used as a drinking implement, and 2) Greek already had a word for “glass”, and this word ποτήρι [potíri] is not a neologism, but enjoys a continuity in Greek since Classical times.

    Of course, you’re right, there isn’t. But what about the semantics?

    Nobody would disagree with the latter statement, but with all respect, the passage in red is a rather far-fetched theory which can hardly be sustained from a linguistic point of view.

    So, what happened? Now, the discussion has focused on two words and their semantic transitions, a) bordel, and b) bardak.:)

    End of part I.
  17. Spectre scolaire Senior Member

    Moving around, p.t. Turkey
    Maltese and Russian
    My contribution to this thread comes in two parts.

    This is part II.

    So, what happened? Now, the discussion has focused on two words and their semantic transitions, a) bordel, and b) bardak.

    The semantic change of a) did not operate in Russian, but in French! French was such an influential language in pre-revolutionary Russia that whole passages in famous Russian novels were written in French and translated into Russian as footnotes. My grandfather learned French as his first foreign language in school (which he spoke in addition to his mother tongue German and his father tongue Russian). In spite of Pushkin etc., there was still something second classish about Russian during the 20th century – and a French gouvernante, massive invasion of French loanwords, not to mention a German wife:D did little to revamp its status. If the change in question had come along in Russian, would then French have borrowed the new meaning from Russian?!... In French they said “Que-ce que c’est que ce bordel!” long before it appeared as slang in Russian.

    So, the crucial question appears to be how and where the semantic transition from “glass” to “brothel” operated. I don’t think I can solve this question, but a new path seems to impose itself.

    I suggest we look at the word b) bardak as it notoriously changed. Turkish çay bardağı, “tea glass” – an izafet construction containing the qualifier çay and the qualified word bardak (furnished with a compulsory possessive pronoun) - suddenly changes the material of the bardak from earthenware to thin glass. Whoever has been to Greece or Turkey (or wherever in the region) has seen these glasses – as much in the shape of a female body as a guitar is. But a guitar doesn’t have a hole – at least not without strings attached... Instead of pouring tea into the glass, some drops of sun-flower oil (or the like) makes it the perfect pars pro toto when the fiancée does’nt turn up. Pars pro toto is a figure of speech in which the part of something is used to signify the whole. The implied four-letter word is, according to “Urban Dictionary” (on the web), a “Derogatory term for a woman.” I’ll come back to it.

    I don’t think this happened in Azeri. Russian would be a much more likely candidate, but any non-Turkic language could aspire to this dubious honour. The semantic transition of French “bordel” from “maison de prostitution” to “grand désordre” seems more likely to have happened in the original language than a semantic transition of, say, French verre from “glass” to “*prostitute”. Bordel is already a negative word – it can’t get worse. Verre, however, is the French word for “glass”. How would it sound if a young son was scolded by his mother who said: “Don’t drink from the bottle, find yourself a ... prostitute!”

    To sustain the hypothesis of foreign words being more likely to undergo this kind of semantic changes, Modern Greek γκεργκέφι would appear to be an instructive parallel. The word comes from Turkish gergef, “embroidery frame”, and does not mean anything else in Turkish. In Modern Greek, however, γκεργκέφι being a loanword, it has – in addition to its Turkish original meaning – also developed a slang acceptation which is a clear reminder of what the word for “glass” went through – or rather what went through the glass... The English correspondence to Modern Greek γκεργκέφι starts with a c and rhymes with blunt. You don’t need much imagination to understand the semantic transition.

    Incidentally, Turk. gergef being of Persian origin, cf. kârgâh, has an indirect relation to ... bordel. The first element is Pers. kâr, “work”, and the second -gâh is a Pers. verbal suffix meaning “place of”. The word kârhane in Turk. – literally:“work-house” - is an obsolete word for “a factory, a workshop”.

    How did the latter become obsolete in Turkish?

    With its modern Turkish phonetic and semantic development, kârhane ended up as kerhane, “brothel”!

    Today, indeed! But kerhane was the common Turkish word for brothel before the euphemism (and neologism) “genelev” came along. I have seen no indications that:

    I doubt whether it is possible to substantiate such an idea. It is interesting, but rather fanciful.

    In Azeri kerhane has kept its old meaning of “factory”, a fact which has resulted in perennial jokes among Turks who travel to Azerbaidjan to visit a factory – but are told that this is a ... brothel.:D

    Considering the influx of Russian Jews in Israel it is likely that they brought along the word бардак.

    Words travel, but it is not always obvious how they travel or why they assume a new semantic garb.:)

    End of part II.
  18. scriptum

    scriptum Senior Member

    Israel / Hebrew, Russian
    Hi Spectre,
    “Wow” is my reaction to your post. Knowing neither Turkish nor Persian, I am afraid I cannot be more specific... I only would like to remark that word formation based on replacement of the foreign suffix by a native one is not so uncommon in Russian (cf. chapeau – шапка). So the transformation of bordel into bardak is at least probable.
  19. Wow, also is my reaction. Spectre you are more than scholaire!

    As I was looking at this thread I though of the association of "glass" and "bardak", although I don't know if it's valid. In red light districts in countries like the Netherlands, women in "bordels" can be seen through the glass fornt of their "boutique". But I don't know if "bardak" and "glass" have the same value as in English "glass" and "glass/window". To add to that, is it possible that amalgams are made so that the meanings of glass/jug/prosititute's window front" would all tie up into "bardak", with the meaning of a "bordel(fr)" (a mess/a bordello) adding to the mix?

    Language is so interesting, and you realize at times that one person's coinging of a word, based on his/her knowledge of one or more languages, may create a new word understood by all through the linguistic melting pot! Indeed it is not scholars who create words - they study them!
    It is your "average Joe" on the street who comes up with the terms, who propogates them, and leaves them to the likes of linguistically-minded people to try to decipher and guess their origins!

    PS reading this I realize it doesn't make much sense, but I know what I mean ;)... Off to bed, tomorrow I will revise!
  20. maxl Senior Member

    Hebrew, Israel
    Wow indeed. Just one small point. There was no need to wait for the latest influx of Russians to Israel for bardak to enter Hebrew, since the word is used also in Yiddish, and thus from the very beginning of emigration of Eastern European Jews to the Holy Land in the 19th c. the word migrated with them. I doubt though whether the 18th c. Hassidim who settled in Jerusalem, Tiberias and Safed brought it with them.
  21. nty New Member

    okay,first thing,you need an open mind,the word bardak (ברדק) means a mess,like a messy room is "kheder mevordak" (חדר מבורדק),this is the most common this for this word.

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