برشلونة — Arabic pronunciation of “Barcelona”

elroy

Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
In Arabic the name of “Barcelona” (برشلونة) has a /ʃ/ for the “c,” even though Arabic has both /s/ (as in the Catalan name) and /θ/ (as in the Peninsular Spanish name). Any idea why that might be?
 
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  • WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Many Iberian toponyms actually: Seville, Medina Sidonia, Lisbon, Silves, Santiago de Compostela (but not Valencia or Murcia). Must have something to do with how these were pronounced in the local languages in the 8th century.
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    In Iberian, it was
    1658741248782.png
    (Baŕkeno), from which the Latin Barcinō /ˈbar.kɪ.noː/, in accusative Barcinōnem /bar.kɪˈnoː.nɛm/. By local evolution, this must have been pronounced close to /bar.tsɪˈloː.na/ or /bar.tse'lo:na/ in the 8th century, through dissimilation of the first n. So Andalusi Arabic must have interpreted that /ts/ as a sh, probably because of the following /i/ too.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    So Andalusi Arabic must have interpreted that /ts/ as a sh, probably because of the following /i/ too.
    The Arabic Sheen was not yet ʃ at the time. The assumption is that it still was ɬ as it is reconstructed for PS or at least close to it.
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    The Arabic Sheen was not yet ʃ at the time. The assumption is that it still was ɬ as it is reconstructed for PS or at least close to it.

    If that's the case then why does it only appear in Al-Andalus? We don't have قشطنطينية or طرشوش or قيشارية or إشكندرية or خراشان or شجشتان or شمرقند.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Why would we? ɬ is quite a rare sound and the fact that most transliterations of ʃ from Aramaic or Hebrew from early the early Islamic period use Seen rather than Sheen is one of the main arguments why people believe Sheen was still ɬ at the time and Arabic speakers back then found Seen the closest approximation to ʃ.
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    What transliterations from Aramaic and Hebrew do we have that can definitively be dated to the early Islamic period and not earlier? I don't think those are a good yardstick because Arabic had been in close contact with those two languages for many centuries, unlike Iberia.
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I think it's more likely to do with how the local Iberian names sounded to the Arabs. This transliteration with shin lasted a long while (e.g. Castile was qishtaalah قشتالة).
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I think it's more likely to do with how the local Iberian names sounded to the Arabs.
    Sure. I raised the point to make you aware that the question is not exclusively what sound the local language had at the time but also what sound Arabic speaking listeners associated with the letter Sheen at the time and that this is most likely not what modern speakers associate with the letter.
     

    WadiH

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Sure. I raised the point to make you aware that the question is not exclusively what sound the local language had at the time but also what sound Arabic speaking listeners associated with the letter Sheen at the time and that this is most likely not what modern speakers associate with the letter.

    Yes those two factors are not mutually exclusive, but on the Arabic side of things Sibawayh says the shin is articulated at the same point as jiim and yaa, whereas if it were [ɬ] he would have put it at the same point as dhaad. I don't know what things were like with the local language (I assume some kind of Romance language?).
     

    djara

    Senior Member
    Tunisia Arabic
    Latin Barcinō /ˈbar.kɪ.noː/, in accusative Barcinōnem /bar.kɪˈnoː.nɛm/. By local evolution, this must have been pronounced close to /bar.tsɪˈloː.na/ or /bar.tse'lo:na/ in the 8th century, through dissimilation of the first n.
    Isn't this a case where the latin /k/ sound has locally evolved into /ʃ/ or /tʃ/ as in chariot from carrum, chick(pea) from cicer /kiker/, (and many other examples in Italian, Spanish, and French).?
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Isn't this a case where the latin /k/ sound has locally evolved into /ʃ/ or /tʃ/ as in chariot from carrum, chick(pea) from cicer /kiker/, (and many other examples in Italian, Spanish, and French).?

    What is usually believed is that Latin /k/ before e/i evolved first into /tʃ/, then into /ts/ in the West (although preservation of /tʃ/ can be found, for instance, in Mozarabic). This is one of those features often taken into account for a chronological detachment of the Romance clusters: preservation of /k/ in Sardinian; evolution into /tʃ/ in East and Central zones, mainly, Romanian and Italian; second evolution into /ts/ in Western Romance languages, from which most would eventually evolve into /s/ (but /θ/ in Castilian Spanish).

    The case of chariot you mention is different, because it affects /k/ before a (char from carru). Which is something that took place secondarily in some varieties of Old French, mainly the one which would give way to modern French.
     

    I.K.S.

    Senior Member
    Moroccan Arabic
    It seems Andalusians didn't even call it برشلونة, Ibn Hisham, an Andalusian linguist from the 12th century says:
    ويقولون برجلونة لبعض بلاد الروم بالأندلس والصواب
    برشلونة بالشين المعجمة
    "And they say "Borjolona" to some of the Roman lands inside Andalus but the correct pronunciation is "Borsholona" with sheen.
     
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