Arabic: برج (burj)

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arashmordad

New Member
English-USA, Farsi-Iran
Hello,
I was wondering what is the Etymology of the Arabic word for "tower" (burj) برج
Originally I thought it was from Semitic but now studying some Indo-European I am starting to think it might actually be of Indo-European Etymology:
PIE bergh "fort, protect"; brgh "high"
For instance German Burg "castle" and Berg "mountain", or Greek πύργος (pyrgos) "tower."
What do you guys think?
Thanks!
 
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  • Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    This is one I've always wondered about too. The Arabic usage dates back to at least the time of the Qur'an, since one of the chapters is named al-Buruuj (which is plural of burj). The word also has the meaning of constellation in Arabic, so it could just be that perhaps it's a coincidence? Also I think it's fairly rare for a word with a 'g' sound to be borrowed into Arabic with a 'j' sound, more likely to come over as 'gh' I think, especially since it has that kind of spelling in most European languages anyway.
     

    Outlandish

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I remember reading the word in pre-Islamic poetry. Al-Boroug (j) (constellations) are so called in Arabic long time before Islam.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Pyrgos fits perfectly if it was borrowed before Arabic [g] changed sound (which was a century or so after the Quran, if I recall rightly), and before Greek [y] changed to (which was about 900 or 1000, I think). Because of the [p] and [g], pyrgos can't be related to the IE bergh root.
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    if it was borrowed before Arabic [g] changed sound (which was a century or so after the Quran, if I recall rightly)
    Arabic changed sound a century or so after the Qur'an? As far as I'm aware no major sound changes have occurred in Arabic since the time of the Qur'an.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Because of the [p] and [g], pyrgos can't be related to the IE bergh root.
    The more likely English cognate would be burgh, not bergh, but your argument applies to both and burgh and bergh might have the same PIE root anyway.


    Applying your argument to burgh, I can't see your point here:
    1) [p]: If the PIE origin is bʰ, a <π> or <φ> in Greek and <b> in Germanic is plausible. In addition, according to Grimm, there are attested variants φυρκος and Macedonian βυργος.
    2) [g]: The English spelling burgh corresponds to OE/ME pronunciation [bʊrç], OE spelling burh. As all other Germanic cognates end in <g> and, according to Grimm, there is an attested continental Anglo-Saxon spelling byrig, it is most likely that the OE burh is derived from an older *burġ [bʊrj] or *byrġ [byrj] through unvoicing of <ġ>.
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    1) [p]: If the PIE origin is bʰ, a <π> or <φ> in Greek and <b> in Germanic is plausible. In addition, according to Grimm, there are attested variants φυρκος and Macedonian βυργος.
    Standard Greek [p] is only plausible if Grassmann's Law has applied, and **bhVrgh- would give *pVrkh-. However, the existence of variants with all sorts of phonation makes that point moot. They make the connexion with Germanic likely.
     

    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    According to this it is an “ancient” borrowing from Germanic burg- fortified town, hill-fort.

    Not sure how exactly “ancient” that would be but given what Outlandish said about the word برج occurring in pre-Islamic poetry, it means it is prior to the 7th century.

    Of course Homer's epic, The Iliad, does have πύργος (pyrgos) ="tower” – one of the meanings in Arabic. But I see the above link also doesn’t consider this as a possibility and goes for the Germanic root.
     

    origumi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    The words "pyrgos" (as in Greek) and "burgan" (Hebrew/Aramaic pronunciation of Roman "burgus") were used in Arab-neighboring regions.

    1. A Phoenician town "Pyrgos Stratonos" (Strato's Tower, מגדל שרשן) existed since 4th (or even 5th) century BC in the place taken later by King Herod to build Caesarea Maritima, near today's Israeli town of Hadera. Choosing a Greek name for Aramaic speaking town was maybe under influence of Egypt's Ptolemy.

    2. "Tetra pyrgos" was a known construction style for Roman legion camp, protected by 4 towers. Some locations of tetra pyrgos were Nitzana, Hatzeva, Yotvata (in a region populated mainly by Arab Nabateans at the time, today's southern Israel) and Jerusalem.

    3. Romans in the region used the word "burgus" for castle, tower, fortification. It resonants frequently in Gemara Hebrew/Aramaic (3rd-5th century AD) as "burganin" בורגנין (pl.), from "burgan" בורגן (sing.).
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    According to this it is an “ancient” borrowing from Germanic burg- fortified town, hill-fort.
    Coming from Germanic sounds very unlikely. Perhaps from another European language, but Germanic just doesn't sound right. There was little if any contact between Arabs and Germanic people prior to Islam.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I can see this word coming to Arabic from Greek, but in the absence of any further evidence it could simply be a false cognate like "Earth"/"Ardh" (which was discussed here in the past).
     

    Ander

    Senior Member
    France
    As far as I'm aware no major sound changes have occurred in Arabic since the time of the Qur'an.
    I've heard a few times that Arabic "j" (jiim, with English or French pronunciation) was first a "g" sound (English garden).
     

    Masjeen

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    according to this it is an “ancient” borrowing from germanic burg- fortified town, hill-fort.

    not sure how exactly “ancient” that would be but given what outlandish said about the word برج occurring in pre-islamic poetry, it means it is prior to the 7th century.

    of course homer's epic, the iliad, does have πύργος (pyrgos) ="tower” – one of the meanings in arabic. But i see the above link also doesn’t consider this as a possibility and goes for the germanic root.

    ستكون الكلمة عربية لو كانت من جذر ثلاثي
    لان المصطلحات التي تعرب لا تكون لها هذه الخاصية
    ب - ر - ج
     
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    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    ستكون الكلمة عربية لو كانت من جذر ثلاثي
    لان المصطلحات التي تعرب لا تكون لها هذه الخاصية
    ب - ر - ج
    That's not necessarily true. For non-Arabic speakers, what Masjeen is saying is that because burj is reducible to a three-consonant root, it must therefore be Arabic, because words that are Arabized are not reducible to three consonants.

    I disagree and I find this argument unsound. If the word is small enough, then it would appear to have a three consonant root once acquired in Semitic. The Greek pyrgos is easily reducible to the root p-r-g and Arabized to b-r-g/b-r-j. Or any of the other possible etymologies stated could similarly be reduced.
     

    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    ستكون الكلمة عربية لو كانت من جذر ثلاثي





    لان المصطلحات التي تعرب لا تكون لها هذه الخاصية

    ب - ر - ج
    Masjeen, I must say I have to agree with Clevermizo on this and like Abu rashid I'm very doubtful of the Germanic link. More likely it is from Ancient Greek as Origumi argues.

    Foreign vocabulary in Classical Arabic was studied by many Arab / Muslim philologists, grammarians and historians. Jarir at-Tabari was just one of them. He alone traced the influences and borrowings from Persian, Syrio-Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, not to mention Ethiopian and some others.

    Most of these words were already part of the Classical Arabic lexicon in pre-Islamic times.
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    I've heard a few times that Arabic "j" (jiim, with English or French pronunciation) was first a "g" sound (English garden).
    I have never heard of this. Sure the letter is pronounced 'g' in most other Semitic languages, and so perhaps originally it was a 'g', we don't know. But I've never come across any claim this shift occurred after the arrival of the Islamic period.
     

    de boer

    Member
    German
    Also I think it's fairly rare for a word with a 'g' sound to be borrowed into Arabic with a 'j' sound, more likely to come over as 'gh' I think, especially since it has that kind of spelling in most European languages anyway.
    While your assumption is more or less correct for Modern Standard Arabic, it is quiet common that /g/ is represented by ǧīm in Classical Arabic.

    Some examples from the Qur'an:

    ǧibrīl "the Archangel Gabriel", ultimately derived from the Hebrew gaḇrīʾēl (Jeffrey 1938, pp. 100 et seq./Ambros 2004, p. 305)
    yaʾǧūǧ wa-maʾǧūǧ "Gog and Magog", ultimately derived from the Hebrew gōḡ ū-māḡōḡ (Jeffrey 1938, pp. 288 et seq./Ambros 2004, p. 311)
    al-maǧūs "the Magians, the Zoroastrians" ultimately from the Iranian magush, probably through the Greek magos (Jeffrey 1938, pp. 259 et seq./Ambros 2004, p. 310)
    ǧālūt "Goliath", ultimately derived from the Hebrew golyaṯ (Jeffrey 1938, pp. 97 et seq./Ambros 2004, p. 308)
    siǧn "prison", ultimately from Latin signum (Ambros 2004, pp. 129 et seq.), probably via Greek signon or from Greek through Coptic (Rippin 2006, p. 125)
    siǧill "scroll", ultimately derived from Latin sigillum (Ambros 2004, p. 129)
    ǧund "troop of warriors, army", from Middle Persian gund (Ambros 2004, p. 62)
    I have never heard of this. Sure the letter is pronounced 'g' in most other Semitic languages, and so perhaps originally it was a 'g', we don't know. But I've never come across any claim this shift occurred after the arrival of the Islamic period.
    But one can try to reconstruct the pronunciation of Classical Arabic e.g. by comparing Arabic dialects spoken today. So Janet C. E. Watson proposes the phonemes /ɟ/ or /gʲ/ for ǧīm in Classical Arabic of the eighth century. (Watson 2002)

    Biography:

    Ambros, Arne A., A Concise Dictionary of Koranic Arabic (Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 2004)
    Jeffrey, Arthur, The Foreign Vocabulary in the Qur’ān (Vadodara: Oriental Institute, 1938)
    Rippin, Andrew (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to the Qur’ān (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006)
    Watson, Janet C. E., The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)

    I can see this word coming to Arabic from Greek, but in the absence of any further evidence it could simply be a false cognate like "Earth"/"Ardh" (which was discussed here in the past).
    But there is one major difference: one can find erṣetu in Akkadian, ereṣ in Hebrew, arʿā in Aramaic, arḍun in Arabic and further cognates in other Semite languages so that one could reconstruct a Proto-Semitic form *arṣ́-. That is not the case with the Arabic burǧ because it seems that no Proto-Semitic word *burg- exists.

    Masjeen, I must say I have to agree with Clevermizo on this and like Abu rashid I'm very doubtful of the Germanic link. More likely it is from Ancient Greek as Origumi argues.
    D'accord. That's the same explanation one can find in Ambros (2004, p. 36).
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    But one can try to reconstruct the pronunciation of Classical Arabic e.g. by comparing Arabic dialects spoken today. So Janet C. E. Watson proposes the phonemes /ɟ/ or /gʲ/ for ǧīm in Classical Arabic of the eighth century. (Watson 2002)
    That seems to assume that there was only form of جـ in the eighth century. In the Arabian Peninsula circa 1900, both those sounds you mentioned existed among the bedouins all over the country (or at least one of them did), but they co-existed with [dj] of MSA (sedentary Najd and Al-Hasa), [j] (urban and rural Hejaz), [g] (Yemen and Oman), and of course [y] (the Gulf littoral and one town in Najd). Is there any reason to believe that this was not also the situation in 700? My suspicion is that, c. 700 AD, the citizens of Mecca used [dj] or [j], while the surrounding bedouins used /ɟ/ or /gʲ/, which is about the same situation as it is today. Throughout the Arabian Peninsula /ɟ/ or /gʲ/ is a hallmark of bedouinism, and one of the first changes to the speech of the bedouin when they turn to the settled life is the change of /ɟ/ or /gʲ/ to [dj].

    But there is one major difference: one can find erṣetu in Akkadian, ereṣ in Hebrew, arʿā in Aramaic, arḍun in Arabic and further cognates in other Semite languages so that one could reconstruct a Proto-Semitic form *arṣ́-. That is not the case with the Arabic burǧ because it seems that no Proto-Semitic word *burg- exists.
    Indeed, Lisaan Al-'Arab does not include any verb forms from b-r-j other than تبرّج ("tabarraj"), which means to flaunt one's appearance (especially for a woman). This might be related to the "tower" meaning (a tower is prominent for all to see, much like an unveiled woman), but the connection strikes me as a bit tenuous. So, I'm beginning to lean to the borrowing theory as well.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    That's interesting. In Russian, there is a word "берег" /bereg/ (a bank), obviously related somehow with the word "беречь" /berech'/ (to keep, to protect). Please, note the interchange of consonants in this verb during conjugation:
    /berech'/ (to keep), /beregli/ (were keeping), /berezhom/ ({we} keep)
    [ʨ]<->[g]<->[ʐ]
    According to Vasmer dictionary, these words are initially Slavic, but share the common root with Germanic words mentioned above.
     

    de boer

    Member
    German
    Comment on off topic post deleted.
    Frank, moderator


    @Wadi Hanifa the linguistic situation in the Arabian Peninsula in the 8th century AD/1st century AH is quite delicate or respectively our (not) knowing thereof. But Watson is hardly the only one who assumes a sound shift for ǧīm. I can give you a slightly more detailed answer soon when I can spend more time on this.
     
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    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    @Wadi Hanifa the linguistic situation in the Arabian Peninsula in the 8th century AD/1st century AH is quite delicate or respectively our (not) knowing thereof. But Watson is hardly the only one who assumes a sound shift for ǧīm. I can give you a slightly more detailed answer soon when I can spend more time on this.
    Yes, but couldn't it be possible that the shift happend a few centuries earlier and by the 8th century there remaind people with the older pronounciation? as well as other pronounciations?
     

    0m1

    Member
    Arabic - Lebanese / English
    Well Wiktionary gives Proto-Germanic borrowing as the source of the Arabic word "burj", as someone here suggested, but that leaves a lot unanswered- such as how a Proto-Germanic word made it anywhere near the Semitic lexicon of early Arabic in the first place. Sound shifts are all very well, but how on earth did the two communicate at all in the first place?

    Having given it a little thought, the most plausible seems to be via Latin, I suppose, which Wiktionary incidentally does not mention- but L. burgus is assumed to have come from the Proto-Germanic *burg-, and thus might just be seen as another entrant into the language from Latin, alongside things like Castrum/Qasr and perhaps the slightly more contentious Strata/Siraat.

    Does this sound like a sound hypothesis, or does anyone have any better explanation as to how Germanic *burg might have otherwise made it to Arabic burj?
     
    I asked my Arabic professor at university about this word earlier, he seems to think that it was borrowed into Aramaic from either Latin or Greek since it is attested in Aramaic very early, and he thinks that it has come to Arabic by way of Aramaic. Which of the European languages it originated from seems hard to determine.
     

    0m1

    Member
    Arabic - Lebanese / English
    Ahh, interesting, that makes a lot of sense, if it was present in very early Aramaic then a Latin burgus -> Aramaic **burg or whatever the attestation actually is, and later Arabic burj. And I say burgus because 1. a lot of people cite Germanic *burg- as the origin, which would be the case, indirectly via Latin and Aramic as it happens; and while probably not phonetically impossible, Greek pyrgos seems far more distant. I know I'm hardly 100% on the phonetics side, though, and Arabic [ p -> b ] is more than common enough, and the same [ g/gh -> j ] could have taken place from the Greek too, actually- ok as usual I'm changing my mind mid-post, and I suppose Greek doesn't seem that unlikely now.

    But that puts the Germanic to one side, at least, and might even mean that Arabic burj and Germanic burg- aren't even cognates, if we're to take seriously claims like "the abundance of Pre-Greek placenames (e.g. Πέργαμον (Pergamon) ) seems to indicate a Pre-Greek origin [to pyrgos]". Which would be another of those delicious linguistic coincidences. I wonder where that chap who was claiming Turkish as the mother-language of humanity is now... though in all honesty, surely the Greek is actually cognate with *burg.

    Well, veered violently off-topic once more, but things make somewhat more sense now at least, thanks for asking your professor, vaftrudner!
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Om1 said:
    alongside things like Castrum/Qasr and perhaps the slightly more contentious Strata/Siraat.
    I wouldn't be so quick to accept these claims. Siraat for instance is quite likely Semitic, as it exists in Aramaic also. Also there is a variant root which has the last two radicals juxtaposed which exists in OSA languages as well.

    These roots both carry the meaning of to be straight/to write in various Semitic languages, and it's unlikely there's any Greek/Latin influence there since the Semitic concept seems much more basic.
     

    0m1

    Member
    Arabic - Lebanese / English
    I wouldn't be so quick to accept these claims. Siraat for instance is quite likely Semitic, as it exists in Aramaic also. Also there is a variant root which has the last two radicals juxtaposed which exists in OSA languages as well.

    These roots both carry the meaning of to be straight/to write in various Semitic languages, and it's unlikely there's any Greek/Latin influence there since the Semitic concept seems much more basic.
    Ahh, I'm glad to see some proof for the Semitic origin of Siraat; I did call that particular Latin origin "contentious", as I wasn't sure whether to accept it or not, but until now I had not seen any evidence either for or against a Semitic origin, so thank you, Abu Rashid!

    And actually, what is made of other Latin borrowings, like Castrum/Qasr or Exercitus/ Ɛaskar? Is there some degree of accepted early Latin-Arabic interaction? (I know this is veering dangerously off-topic, but in my experience new threads I start seem particularly apt at fading away :p)
     
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    0m1

    Member
    Arabic - Lebanese / English
    I wouldn't be so quick to accept these claims. Siraat for instance is quite likely Semitic, as it exists in Aramaic also. Also there is a variant root which has the last two radicals juxtaposed which exists in OSA languages as well.

    These roots both carry the meaning of to be straight/to write in various Semitic languages, and it's unlikely there's any Greek/Latin influence there since the Semitic concept seems much more basic.
    Sorry to double-post, actually, but I just came across the following quote:
    "In his work ‘The patterning of Semitic Root Morphemes’ , Greenberg observes that no more than one emphatic consonant can occur in a native Semitic root. Šir❠has two: Šâd and Ťah"
    What do you make of that?
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Sorry to double-post, actually, but I just came across the following quote:
    What do you make of that?
    What about ضرط :D? That has THREE emphatics in it (because the ر is also emphasized in this word).

    There's also رطب (It has ط + emphatic ر)

    سطر سطا سطع (the س is pronounced ص in these words)

    ضبط
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Om1 said:
    "In his work ‘The patterning of Semitic Root Morphemes’ , Greenberg observes that no more than one emphatic consonant can occur in a native Semitic root. Šir❠has two: Šâd and Ťah"
    What do you make of that?
    Perhaps Mr. Greenburg is basing this on Hebrew. Arabic certainly has a plethora of native roots which use 2 or more emphatics (as Wadi Hanifa dutifully pointed out).

    Since pretty much every other Semitic language has long since merged most of the emphatics, Arabic is really the only language that would tell us about such things, and it quite clearly does accept two or more emphatics in the one root.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Since pretty much every other Semitic language has long since merged most of the emphatics,...
    If two emphatics merge, that should keep the number of emphatics in any one root constant, shouldn't it? I am no aware of a merger resulting in an emphatic becoming non-emphatic.
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    berndf said:
    I am no aware of a merger resulting in an emphatic becoming non-emphatic.
    I think very few, if any, Hebrew letters are today pronounced emphatically, and it's probably been that way pretty much since the earliest attested Hebrew writings.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I think very few, if any, Hebrew letters are today pronounced emphatically, and it's probably been that way pretty much since the earliest attested Hebrew writings.
    Which letters count as emphatic and which not has little to do with how modern speakers pronounce them. The morphological rules correspond to Mishnaic Hebrew phonology.
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    berndf said:
    The morphological rules correspond to Mishnaic Hebrew phonology.
    Which is not that much different to today's phonology.

    Perhaps what I should've said was the weakening of the emphatics so that they resembled their non-emphatic counterparts, but this was also accompanied by their mergers also in some cases.

    Either way, Hebrew is useless when it comes to looking at emphatic phonemes.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Which is not that much different to today's phonology.

    Perhaps what I should've said was the weakening of the emphatics so that they resembled their non-emphatic counterparts, but this was also accompanied by their mergers also in some cases.
    This is wrong. The mergers in Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew where between emphatics (like emphatic s and emphatic s2 (Arabic Dad) merged into Tsade) and not between emphatics and their non-emphatic counterparts. In Mishnaic Hebrew e.g. Tet end Tav and Koph and Kaph were well separated.

    Either way, Hebrew is useless when it comes to looking at emphatic phonemes.
    I don't see why. The occasional unetymological emphatics in Arabic, like the emphatically pronounced "l"s and "r"s, can equally be seen as problematic when trying to reconstruct a possible PS root.
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    berndf said:
    The mergers in Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew where between emphatics (like emphatic s and emphatic s2 (Arabic Dad) merged into Tsade) and not between emphatics and their non-emphatic counterparts
    Actually I think you'll find ص ض & ظ all merged into Hebrew צ and that is probably long before the time of Biblical Hebrew, certainly long before Mishnaic Hebrew.

    And as far as I'm aware צ is not pronounced in an emphatic manner in Hebrew.

    berndf said:
    I don't see why. The occasional unetymological emphatics in Arabic, like the emphatically pronounced "l"s and "r"s, can equally be seen as problematic when trying to reconstruct a possible PS root.
    Not really, they are merely a 'stylised' pronunciation, rather than something which became a fundamental part of the language. Even though those letters can occasionally be pronounced in an emphatic manner, it does not mean the non-emphatic way of producing the sound disappeared. In Hebrew this may have been the case thousands of years ago, but long ago the ability to distinguish between the sounds themselves vanished, and we are left today with only one way of pronouncing the sounds, which as far as I know is non-emphatic.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Actually I think you'll find ص ض & ظ all merged into Hebrew צ and that is probably long before the time of Biblical Hebrew, certainly long before Mishnaic Hebrew.
    צ is an emphatic letter. The pronunciation [ts] is modern. Mishnaic pronunciation is ṣ.

    PS: The emphatic letters in Hebrew are צ ,ט and ק. All of them are derived exclusively from PS emphatics and no PS emphatic merged with any other Hebrew letter.
     
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    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Interesting discovery, whilst flicking through a dictionary of Sabaic (Ancient South Arabian) I came across the verb b-r-g, which supposedly means to acquire, possess. The Arabic translation is listed as ملك which is the Arabic verb for 'own' or 'possess' and also from where the noun for 'king' comes from. Kings, castles... am I drawing too much of a conclusion here?
     
    But that puts the Germanic to one side, at least, and might even mean that Arabic burj and Germanic burg- aren't even cognates, if we're to take seriously claims like "the abundance of Pre-Greek placenames (e.g. Πέργαμον (Pergamon) ) seems to indicate a Pre-Greek origin [to pyrgos]". Which would be another of those delicious linguistic coincidences. I wonder where that chap who was claiming Turkish as the mother-language of humanity is now... though in all honesty, surely the Greek is actually cognate with *burg.
    Actually Πέργαμον (Pergamon) is not a Pre-Greek name; it derives from the eponymous hero «Πέργαμος» ('Pĕrgāmŏs) the son of Neoptolemus and founder of the city, a name which according to mr Babiniotis, the prof. of Linguistics in the Athens University has clearly IE roots: *bhrgh-, meaning "fortified elevation"
     

    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    Wouldn't the Middle Persian burg be the likely source of Arabic burj? None of the above responses mentioned it.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    The current view among Indo-Europeanists is that Greek πύργος “tower” is NOT related to German Burg, Berg, IE *bherǵh- “high”. Beekes writes that it is “clearly pre-Greek”, i.e., non-Indo-European.

    Latin burgus “tower, turret” is considered by some to be a loan from Greek πύργος, with an irregular shift of the initial p- to b-, but others hold it to be a (late) Latin borrowing from Germanic.

    Syriac burgā “turret” is believed to be a borrowing from burgus (Roman military vocabulary), and not (or not directly) from Greek πύργος. Middle Persian burg “tower” is either of the same origin, or else borrowed from Arabic (I do not have any demonstrably pre-Islamic attestations to hand).

    Arabic burj pl. burūj occurs in the Qur’an also in the meaning “signs of the zodiac”. It is generally believed to go back either to πύργος or to burgus (presumably via Aramaic, or via Persian). It might, however, be remarked that πύργος does not ever have this meaning in Greek.
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Beekes has rejected without serious grounds the entire stratum of evidence of ancient loans from other Indo-European dialects into Greek.

    *bʰr̥gʲʰos>*burgʰos>πύργος
    like *gʰebʰlā>*gebʰlā>κεβλή with a Grassman's law followed by a consonant shift in some non-Greek Palaeo-Balkanic language.

    For g, d, b and p, t, k cp. e. g. Macedonian : Greek correspondences here Ancient Macedonian language - Wikipedia (also κόμβους<*gʲombʰo- there).

    For the non-Greek reflexation of *r̥>ur in the Balkans cp. Μερμησσός~Μαρμησσός~Μυρμησσός in Mysia — Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898), M, Menelaïum, Mermessus
     
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    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    The initial consonant of πύργος is not the problem. In fact *bh- > ph- > p- in the first of two syllables with aspirates is perfectly regular in Greek, but in Greek only. As in *bheudh- > *pheuth- > πεύθομαι. The problem is with the vowel. So you would have to posit a language that had exactly the same consonant rules as Greek, but with completely different rules governing the vowels.
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Yet, we have to explain γ pro **χ<*gʲʰ (**πάρχος).

    The most mysterious is of course the famous φύρκος (mentioned by berndf back in 2009 in #6), which can be explained either as:

    (a) a loan through a language B that experienced the consonant shift later than the donor language A, i. e. bʰr̥gʲʰos>*burgʰos>*purgos in A, loaned in this form to B where later *purgos>pʰurkos (when the shift finally reached this language, cp. the gradual spread of the Second Germanic Consonant Shift to the north), and in this form it entered Greek;

    (b) a combination of several changes: the non-Greek *r̥>ur, the Greek devoicing *bʰ…gʲʰ>*pʰ…kʰ, and the (not attested anywhere) reversed Grassman's change with the second aspiration lost: *pʰ…kʰ>pʰ…k.

    By the way, there is also the classical Georgiev's "Pelasgic" example τύμβος : τάφος. There are also various other problematic words like ῥύμβος : ῥάμφος (with a non-Greek αμ), especially in onomastics.
     

    CyrusSH

    Banned
    Persian - Iran
    The current view among Indo-Europeanists is that Greek πύργος “tower” is NOT related to German Burg, Berg, IE *bherǵh- “high”. Beekes writes that it is “clearly pre-Greek”, i.e., non-Indo-European.

    Latin burgus “tower, turret” is considered by some to be a loan from Greek πύργος, with an irregular shift of the initial p- to b-, but others hold it to be a (late) Latin borrowing from Germanic.

    Syriac burgā “turret” is believed to be a borrowing from burgus (Roman military vocabulary), and not (or not directly) from Greek πύργος. Middle Persian burg “tower” is either of the same origin, or else borrowed from Arabic (I do not have any demonstrably pre-Islamic attestations to hand).

    Arabic burj pl. burūj occurs in the Qur’an also in the meaning “signs of the zodiac”. It is generally believed to go back either to πύργος or to burgus (presumably via Aramaic, or via Persian). It might, however, be remarked that πύργος does not ever have this meaning in Greek.
    The Urartian word burgana with the same meaning of "tower, fortress" can be seen in the inscriptions of Ishpuini and Menua from the 9th century BC, it is meaningless to say that ancient Armenians, Persians, Arabs, Aramaeans and other people who lived in the same region, borrowed this word from Latin.
     
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    CyrusSH

    Banned
    Persian - Iran
    It makes indeed no sense relating Classical Syriac ܒܘܪܓܐ to Urartian. There is a gap of about 600 years.
    There is also Old Armenian բուրգն (burgn) with the same meaning of "tower", there are several Urartian words in Armenian and it is one of them, Armenians were the northern neighbors of Syriacs.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    There is also Old Armenian բուրգն (burgn) with the same meaning of "tower", there are several Urartian words in Armenian and it is one of them, Armenians were the northern neighbors of Syriacs.
    It is the same problem. If it were indeed a Middle Eastern wanderwort why would it go into hiding for at least 600 years and then miraculously reappear in two languages (Classical Syriac and Classical Aramaic) intimately linked with Christianity?
     

    CyrusSH

    Banned
    Persian - Iran
    It is the same problem. If it were indeed a Middle Eastern wanderwort why would it go into hiding for at least 600 years and then miraculously reappear in two languages (Classical Syriac and Classical Aramaic) intimately linked with Christianity?
    I really don't know what you mean by "600 years", of course the Armenian word can be also linked with Christianity because there is no Armenian text older than a 5th-century Bible translation but why you think this word didn't exist in Armenian before this date?
     
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