Vampire < Ubyr - Etymology.

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by ancalimon, Apr 11, 2013.

  1. ancalimon Senior Member

    Istanbul
    Turkish
    I've read that the word "vampire" comes from the Turkic word "ubyr" meaning witch. Can anyone explain how such a trasformation is possible? I know about people burning "witches" or throwing them to deep rivers during the dark ages. So could it be some made-up children tale to make people hate those "witch" people?

    Also is there any known etymology for the word "ubyr"? In Turkish we don't have that word as far as I know.
     
  2. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    It probably stems from South Slavic vampir, again from O.Ch.Sl upir' (упирь), but the exact etymology is not clear. The first recorded use is from an 11th century Old Russian manuscript, which makes the Tartar connection less likely.
     
  3. Treaty Senior Member

    Australia
    Persian
    Is there any possibility that it is related to Arabic ifrit? They are also related to darkness and blood.
     
  4. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    The English word vampire was borrowed from French, in turn borrowed it from Serbian вампир/vampir, or some say Hungarian vampir. The Hungarian hypothesis might explain why the origins are unclear (since it is non-IE), but it does not explain why it has cognate in virtually every Slavic language: Bulgarian and Macedonian вампир (vampir), Czech and Slovak upir, Polish wapierz , Russian упырь (upyr'), Belarussian упыр (upyr), Ukrainian упир (upyr), from Old Russian упирь (upir').

    The word is found for the first time in written form in 1047 in a letter to a Novgorodian prince referring to him as 'Upir Lichyj' (Оупирь Лихыи).

    The Tartar hypothesis might also explain why a PIE etymology is unclear, but again, linguistically and culturally, vampires are associated with the Slavic peoples, and not the Tartars. It is actually more likely that the Tartars borrowed it from Old Slavic, than the other way around.

    Other than that, anyone’s guess is valid. It has been suggested it is related to Serbo-Croatian “u-pir” (blow), Greek/OCS “pij” (drink), or it might be related to Russian netopyr' (bat), and ultimately from the PIE root for "to fly". However, all of these suggestions leave a lot to be desired.
     
  5. sotos Senior Member

    Greek
  6. Vulcho Junior Member

    Bulgarian
    Bulgarian and Serbian vampir are loanwords from Greek. The Greek word in turn is an earlier loan from Bulgarian. Some dialects preserve the native form which has developed to въпирь (văpir') after the loss of nasal vowels.
     
  7. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    The Hungarian vámpír might be the source for Western European languages, but the Hungarian word itself is probably of Serbian (or Croatian) origin. Also, most (or all?) of the old Hungarian written "documents" about vampires (people who are burried, but are not dead "enough" and during the night leave their graves ...) report stories from the Southern parts of the former Hungarian Kingdom, inhabited by Slavic speaking people.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
  8. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    The tales about vampires origianted in Transilvania, so the Hungarian or Romanian origin is quite plausible, and the word itself may have Greek roots.

    I doubt if the Slavic upir (Polish upiór) has anything to do with vampire.
     
  9. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Before Bram Stoker, vampires were not associated with Transylvania in particular, but sooner modern-day Serbia. As francisgranada points out - all documentation of the "modern" phenomenon seems to come from the Banat and Serbia. Stoker moved it to Translylvania to conflate it with the legends surrounding Vlad Tepes.
     
  10. Vulcho Junior Member

    Bulgarian
    Tales about vampires are common all over the Balkans. The specifics vary from region to region. The proto-Slavic word was õpirь. Initial õ- developed into u- in Serbo-Croatian, and into vă- in Bulgarian. Compare Serbian ugalj, uže, uzao vs Bulgarian въглен (văglen), въже (văže), възел (văzel) etc. Likewise, Croatian upir vs Bulgarian văpir. The word passed into Greek while the ă was still nasal, thus we have vampir, not vapir :).
     
  11. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    Bulgarian
    Any Turkic connection for this word is unprobable.

    The word is Slavic. In Common Old Slavonic it just meant bat (the animal of Chiroptera) and looked (v)(am)pirъ where:

    • The initial v could either be a prothesis regularly found in such a position (as Vulcho explained) or be mistaken as such a prothesis. This explains why the initial consonant is missing sometimes in Slavic.
    • (am) was a back nasal vowel which changed to U in many Slavic languages as Russian, BCS etc.

    Going back in time, the Slavonic word could be a borrowing from Latin/Romance into Slavic: vespertilio (vesper: evening) which in turn could be a calque of the Greek νυχτερίδα (νυχτα: night) or vice versa.

    Going from that time on, tales related that word to darkness and blood and it adopt another meaning, a magic one. That's why new Slavic languages, already separated, had to invent other words for the Chiroptera animal (Bulg. прилеп, Russian летучая мышь, Polish nietoperze, BCS šišmiš, Czech letouni, etc).

    Most probably, the very old look of that Slavonic word, vampire, was preserved in Romano-balkanic and Hungarian. From there, it went to French and then to English.

    The Bulgarian word вампир is a borrowing: either from Romano-balkanic (if it is older than 19-th century) or from French. The corresponding old Slavonic word was lost in Bulgarian.
     
  12. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Question: Is it possible that it entered Hungarian from vă-pir first? And that e.g. Serbian and Bulgarian borrowed it back from Hungarian? (as opposed to from Greek)
     
  13. ancalimon Senior Member

    Istanbul
    Turkish
    What I meant was that maybe some people related "blood sucking monster" with the Turkic word ubyr to make common people hate those harmless witches leading to mass murders of those people.
     
  14. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    And what did calling someone a upir mean back then?
     
  15. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    If this "ă" is not a nasal vowel, but it corresponds to the Slavic (Bulgarian) "ъ", then I think this is highly improbable. Depending on the time of the possible borrowing and on how this "ă" sounded exactly, in this case in Hungarian we should expect "vapír" or "vopír".

    Another interesting question regarding the possible etymology of this word is, why both the vowels á and í are long in Hungarian, i.e. vámpír pronounced [‘va:mpi:r]? … (in Hungarian, whichever of these vowels could be also short).
    1. According to some sources (e.g. the online English Etymology dictionary) the word vampire (vampiro etc …) in the Western European languages is a borrowing from Hungarian (vámpír), through German and/or French.
    2. In Polish (according to Wikipedia) the following variants do or did exist: wampir, wąpierz, upiór, upir. Wąpierz is the only form that may phonetically correspond to the supposed (Proto)Slavic *ǫpir(ь).
    3. In Slovak both upír and vampír exist. Upír is the form that may correspond to the presupposed *ǫpirь.
    4. In Checz both upír and vampýr exist. As regular continuation of the presupposed *ǫpirь, I should expect upíř.
    5. In Russian both упырь and вампир exist. As the regular form of *ǫpirь, I should expect упир(ь).

    So, regardless of the "final" origin of this word (Turkic or whatever) , there are too many variants in the Slavic languages, so I think that multiple (re)borrowings surely took place, probably from Hungarian and/or German and, maybe, also among various Slavic languages. For example in Polish, I dare say that it is simply impossible that all the mentioned variants were the direct continuation of a single Protoslavic word *ǫpirь ...
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2013
  16. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    Vulcho wrote
    . Most sources give that it was borrowed from Hungarian into French/English/German, and then later borrowed back in to several Slavic language, which goes to explain why many of them have two (or more) forms.
     
  17. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Here the Vulcho's answer should be needed ... But if am not mistaken, in his examples {въглен (văglen), въже (văže), възел (văzel) etc...} this "ă" corresponds to a non nasal vowel "ъ".

    By the way, Vulchos constatation "The word passed into Greek while the ă was still nasal, thus we have vampir, not vapir" could eventually explain why the nasal pronounciation ("vam-") still exists in Greek, but not why it does exist also in Bulgarian ... (if not due to a later re-borrowing from Greek)
    Yes, this is very probable (see my post #15). However, the phonetical correspondecies are not "perfectly" clear ...
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2013
  18. sotos Senior Member

    Greek
    The Gr. verb βαμβαίνω (shiver because of fear or cold, Iliad K, 375) sounds relevant, at least in the sense that if you see a vampire you will probably be "vamv-ainein" of fear. From this we have the medieval Gr. noun βαμβαλός (tremor, shivering) (Dictionary of Anthimos Gazis).
     
  19. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Please re-read the Vulcho's post more carefully . He explicitly said was that this "ъ" was originally nasal (Initial õ- developed into u- in Serbo-Croatian, and into vă- in Bulgarian).
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  20. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    I have read it carefully, but it was not clear enough to me what he wanted to say exactly. But re-reading his previous post (#6), it's now clear. I am sorrry.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
  21. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    I am just curious to learn where the Greek connection comes in. If it is true that vă-pir was originally nasal in a South Slavic regionalism, is there any reason to assume it traveled though Greek to become vam-pir?
     
  22. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    If we accept that the discussed word originates from the common (or Proto) Slavic *ǫpirь and that this word has spread to other languages through Hungarian, then I think there is no reason to assume that it travelled through Greek.

    Another question is the initial "v": it had to be present already in the Southern Slavic languages (especially in the ancient Serbian/Croatian) before the denasalization of "ǫ" and before this word entered in Hungarian (otherwise today we would have probably *ampire :) instead of vampire ... ).
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013

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