NPers. ahl, Pahlavi ahlaw & Arabic '-h-l

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Treaty, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. Treaty Senior Member


    In Persian, ahl اهل has four meanings:
    1. familiar with, native of
    2. good (opposite nā-ahl نااهل)
    3. tamed (also ahlī اهلی)
    4. family

    While #1 and #4 are clearly Arabic from '-h-l root (~[make] family), #2 and #3 seem dubious for me. The "tamed" meaning (#3) may well be related to Arabic 'hl via "familiar" or "domesticated". Therefore, we can infer the "good" meaning (#2) from the "tame" meaning.

    However, Pahlavi ahlaw means "good" or "truthful" from OPers. artāva[n]. Could #2 meaning be related to or be influenced from this Pahlavi word? Does #2 meaning exist in Arabic?
  2. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Arabic ʼahl means “family”, but it is also an adjective meaning “worthy, entitled”. There is also ʼahlī “domestic”. So all the Persian meanings are present in Arabic. The basic meaning is presumably “worthy”, then “worthy people, people deserving support”, and then “family”.

    Middle Persian ahlaw is a loanword from Avestan ašauuan-, with s+haček+subscript-dot, which was probably a voiceless lateral and is normally represented as –hl- in Middle Persian loanwords from and transcriptions of Avestan. The cognate in Old Persian is artāwan-, from which derives MP ardā(w). Both ahlaw and ardā belong to the specifically Zoroastrian religious vocabulary (“righteous, following aša-”) and have not survived into Muslim New Persian.
  3. Treaty Senior Member

    Thanks. I got it.

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