Etymology: Fulan

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Abu Rashid

Senior Member
Australian English
Split from here.
Hello,

Indeed, we use seen س as a variable (in maths, physics and chemistry).
X Y Z are rendered as س ع ص. (when you're doing chemistry or maths for instance). It is, at least, the way I was taught.
When we want to refer to someone (as X is speaking) we use فلان flaan (from fulann) in Algeria.

Interestingly fulan comes from Greek. So I think the two cultures have influenced one another a lot. It is still not clear why the Arabs used shay? for X although its meaning suggests an unkown quantity. But that's etymology and it remains speculation after all. You can never be sure about time and place of the borrowing.
Jamshid
Do you have a reference for this? Can you give any idea as to when it was supposedly borrowed?
 
  • Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Interestingly fulan comes from Greek. (jdibrahim)

    Do you have a reference for this?
    Can you give any idea as to when it was supposedly borrowed? (Abu Rashid)


    The Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy agrees that the Spanish fulano is from Arabic, but mentions the (Ancient) Egyptian words pw rn for this man as a possible ultimate source (though admittedly the Ptolomeys and Alexandria were Greek):

    "fulano, na.
    (Del ár. hisp. fulán, este del ár. clás. fulān, y este quizá del egipcio pw rn, este hombre)."
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Arrius, what is the meaning of fulano in Spanish? Google translation doesn't translate this word, it just leaves it as is.

    btw, it was jdibrahim who claimed it was Greek not tajabone.
     

    jdibrahim

    Member
    Globish (English, German, French, Arabic)
    Arrius, what is the meaning of fulano in Spanish? Google translation doesn't translate this word, it just leaves it as is.

    btw, it was jdibrahim who claimed it was Greek not tajabone.
    I read about Fulan some time ago and can't now find the source. I will certainly come back if I find it. Lots of other words are from Greek. Nearly all Arab currency words: Fils pl. Fuluus are of foreign origin (most of them from Greek or Persian or other sister languages. Anyway fulaan or filaan doesn't sound Arabic to me but there are some words coined by analogy like: 3illaan, filtaan..
    Jamshid
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Originally Posted by Abu Rashid
    Arrius, what is the meaning of fulano in Spanish? Google translation doesn't translate this word, it just leaves it as is.

    Señor Fulano means the same as Sayyid Fulan in Arabic or Mr Whatsisname (N.N./No Name) in English. Es un fulano means he is a nobody, a nonentity, a loser but una fulana is a woman of very doubtful morals or one slandered as being such.
    btw, it was jdibrahim who claimed it was Greek not tajabone.
    Relevant posting now appropriately amended with apologies to those concerned.:eek:
     

    Spectre scolaire

    Senior Member
    Maltese and Russian
    jdibrahim said:
    Interestingly fulan comes from Greek.
    And how would this word be written in Greek?

    Chazzwozzer said:
    Well, my etymological dictionary also notes that Greek has borrowed the word from Aramaic. (the word for "et cetera")
    You probably mean the other way round. ;)

    Be it relata refero to or from whichever language, I just don’t recognize any Greek word in the process. The words peloní elmoní mentioned by Nişanyan (which I suppose is Chazzwozzer’s source), don’t really mean anything unless you see how it is written in Greek. The structure of peloní and elmoní is unmistakably Greek, and yet they defy analysis.
    :) Unfortunately, I don’t have access to Liddel Scott-Jones for the time being... :)
     

    Spectre scolaire

    Senior Member
    Maltese and Russian
    Could it possibly be ελεήμων [eleémon], “merciful”? The root is the same as in κύριε ελέησον, “Kyrie eleison”. But then, what about the semantic aspect? And how did a [p] (becoming [f] in Arabic) come into the bargain?!
    :confused:
     

    jdibrahim

    Member
    Globish (English, German, French, Arabic)
    Could it possibly be ελεήμων [eleémon], “merciful”? The root is the same as in κύριε ελέησον, “Kyrie eleison”. But then, what about the semantic aspect? And how did a [p] (becoming [f] in Arabic) come into the bargain?!
    :confused:
    This is nothing special P always changed to f in old Arabic (now it changes to b) just take the Arabic word Fardaws: paradise from old Persian cognate with paradise. Platon became ?aflaaTuun, Pars became Faars: Persians and so on...In fact the f sound in fulan suggests Greek origin.
    Jamshid
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    jdibrahim,

    This is nothing special P always changed to f in old Arabic
    I think they were asking how did the "P" get into the word, as it's not in the original Greek suggestion, rather than how did it get Arabicised to "F".

    The reason I asked you to provide some reference for this, is because the vast majority of loanwords from Greek into Arabic came about during the Abbasid period, whereas Fulan existed in Arabic long before that, it was used in many Hadith during the time of Muhammad (pbuh). Therefore the Greek origin sounds kind of shaky.
     

    jdibrahim

    Member
    Globish (English, German, French, Arabic)
    jdibrahim,

    The reason I asked you to provide some reference for this, is because the vast majority of loanwords from Greek into Arabic came about during the Abbasid period, whereas Fulan existed in Arabic long before that, it was used in many Hadith during the time of Muhammad (pbuh). Therefore the Greek origin sounds kind of shaky.
    That's not true just take qalam "pencil" which is even found in Quran (before Islam ie was known to Muhammad) is of Greek origin. Two other words: daftar and funduq (maybe later I am not sure). In addition Fulan can't be Arabic because there is no Arabic root.
    Jamshid
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    That's not true
    It's not true that most Greek words in Arabic were borrowed during the Abbasid period? I think it is true. Your one example (of Qalam) certainly doesn't do much to disprove this. Even if you could bring ten substantiated examples, that still wouldn't prove much. Most of the Greek terms in Arabic came about when the scholars of Dar al-Hikmah began translating the works of the ancient Greeks (during the Abbasid period), this is a well known fact. Most of them were used to introduce concepts and technical terminology which just didn't exist in Arabic prior to the translation of those works.

    just take qalam "pencil" which is even found in Quran (before Islam ie was known to Muhammad) is of Greek origin.
    Like with Fulan, please bring something to back up these claims. At least give the original Greek word which was supposedly borrowed, you've not done this in either case, which has meant no native Greek speaker can neither confirm nor dismiss your claim.

    Two other words: daftar and funduq (maybe later I am not sure).
    Again please bring forth the supposed origin, anybody can just make wild claims about the origins of words. But if you'd like to do so here, you should at least pay us the courtesy of providing the original word from which they've supposedly been borrowed. These two words would probably be more likely candidates though.

    In addition Fulan can't be Arabic because there is no Arabic root
    The absence of a root does not prove anything (it can be an indicator though), this is a very simple mistake for you to have made. There are Arabic words which have no known foriegn origin yet which have no verbal root. Likewise there's borrowed nouns which have been fashioned into verbs, and now you can find their "root" in an Arabic dictionary, doesn't mean they're original Arabic words.
     

    jdibrahim

    Member
    Globish (English, German, French, Arabic)
    I am afraid I simply don't have the time like you. One of the resources I found is : Karl Lokotsch: Etymologisches Wörterbuch der europäischen Wörter orientalischen Ursprungs (German). I will provide more later if I have time.

    1. Daftar from Greek Diphthera skin, parchment
    2. Funduq from Gr. Pandaka
    3. Qalam from Gr. kalamos (I am not sure about the spelling). This word was known before Islam. This means literacy was somehow prevalent. Not all Arabs were illiterate at that time as some claim. There were contacts with the Greek.
    Jamshid
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    Qalam seems pretty likely to be from κάλαμος (kalamos) which means "reed" and was used also for "reed pen". (Interestingly, Greek got back καλέμι (kalemi) from Arabic through Turkish.)

    I also found online that there is a disputed claim for funduq to go back to πανδοχεῖον (pandocheion) "inn". The other two, I don't know, but (and this might be off-topic) how were Greek words adapted to Arabic -- it's already been brought up that π p became f, but what about vowels and such?
     

    jdibrahim

    Member
    Globish (English, German, French, Arabic)
    Qalam seems pretty likely to be from κάλαμος (kalamos) which means "reed" and was used also for "reed pen". (Interestingly, Greek got back καλέμι (kalemi) from Arabic through Turkish.)

    I also found online that there is a disputed claim for funduq to go back to πανδοχεῖον (pandocheion) "inn". The other two, I don't know, but (and this might be off-topic) how were Greek words adapted to Arabic -- it's already been brought up that π p became f, but what about vowels and such?
    I am afraid I don't know much about Greek and etymology often remains speculation because as I said somewhere else we can never be 100% sure of time and place of borrowings. If I have time I will let you know more. Not only from the Greek but the word SiraaT related to street in English is of Latin origin borrowed before Islam found in Quran. So even Quran is not free from foreign vocabulary. The problem is I don't really have time to go back to all the books I read. But I still remember them. Nearly all currency words like Fils, Dinar are of Greek origin but they were adopted later. But there were contacts with different cultures even before Islam and as we know Mecaa was a centre of financial and business activities (Arabs indulged in business from early on).
    Best
    Jamshid
     

    Alijsh

    Senior Member
    Persian - Iran
    I didn't know fulan is of Greek origin. We have it in Persian as well. It's folân and is also pronounced felân. We have also made a pronoun (folâni / felâni) from this determiner: felâni goft (person X said).
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    I am afraid I don't know much about Greek and etymology often remains speculation because as I said somewhere else we can never be 100% sure of time and place of borrowings. If I have time I will let you know more.
    And I on the other hand know virtually nothing about Arabic, but I was hoping to guess what some of the Greek sources for the loanwords were, which is why I was wondering what sort of changes one might expect to a Greek word on its way to Arabic.

    I was wondering, though, where the word pandaka you mentioned before comes from, because I can't find it in any of the dictionaries I checked.
     

    jdibrahim

    Member
    Globish (English, German, French, Arabic)
    And I on the other hand know virtually nothing about Arabic, but I was hoping to guess what some of the Greek sources for the loanwords were, which is why I was wondering what sort of changes one might expect to a Greek word on its way to Arabic.

    I was wondering, though, where the word pandaka you mentioned before comes from, because I can't find it in any of the dictionaries I checked.
    Usually when a Greek word is borrowed into an Oriental language it finds its way easily into other neighbouring languages sometimes with a change in meaning as with English and German/French False Friends: daftar is an example which means office in Persian whereas in Arabic notebook. Fulan or folan exists in all Oriental Languages. It is no exception. The Greek origin of funduq is as you gave but better πανδοχοc (the last letter is a problem for me to create please forgive me)
    Jamshid
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    I am afraid I simply don't have the time like you.
    I'm not asking you to write a research paper, just provide the original word. The statement "it's borrowed from Greek" alone doesn't mean much, I'm sure you can appreciate this. Please don't go to any trouble on my account, I am not asking you to look the words up, I'm just suggesting you probably shouldn't make the assertion that they're borrowed if you don't know from what they're borrowed.

    Now with the examples you've brought, you've unortunately left out the important one, the one we're here discussing, Fulan. Another reason I'm hesitant to accept this one is that unlike the concepts of writing and money exchange etc. Fulan conveys a concept which would probably exist in a society/language originally as it doesn't refer to a new practise, technology or custom.

    Again, I'm not saying it doesn't come from Greek, it may. But what we want here is contributions, not speculations.
     

    jdibrahim

    Member
    Globish (English, German, French, Arabic)
    I think I contributed more than you are aware of because you didn't even know about Fulan before I started it and etymology will remain a speculation. I repeat if I find the source I will come back. If you don't accept prove otherwise. What I could find out so far is origin unknown. Usually etymological dictionaries give origin unknown without further detail. Arab origin is out of question. As I said earlier it is found in nearly all Oriental languages. Unfortunately there is no etymological dictionary of Arabic till now.
    Jamshid
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    I think I contributed more than you are aware of because you didn't even know about Fulan before I started it
    I didn't even know about "fulan"? That the word exists? Or that you assert it is of Greek origin?

    If you don't accept prove otherwise.
    Well, I cannot prove it's not of Greek origin, but I can demonstrate that it has more of a Semitic origin than a European one. The Hebrew word for "so and so" is peloni, which according to Strong's Hebrew Concordance is cognate with Arabic فلان and as you yourself mentioned:

    As I said earlier it is found in nearly all Oriental languages.
    Now I would assume that if it is present in "nearly all" oriental languages, yet only 1 European language (unless you know of cognates in other European languages), then it's more likely to be of oriental origin.

    So the earliest example I have of a Semitic term is Hebrew's "Peloni" which dates back at least to about 800 BCE. being found in the first verse of the 4th chapter of the Book of Ruth from the OT.

    Can you provide an earlier Greek reference?
     

    Alijsh

    Senior Member
    Persian - Iran
    Usually when a Greek word is borrowed into an Oriental language it finds its way easily into other neighbouring languages sometimes with a change in meaning as with English and German/French False Friends: daftar is an example which means office in Persian whereas in Arabic notebook.
    daftar also means notebook in Persian. Do you know Persian?
     

    jdibrahim

    Member
    Globish (English, German, French, Arabic)
    I pretty much suspect that Arabic [f] in fulan was originally [p]. Fulan cannot simply be Arabic. Anyway I think this case needs more research and I would like to leave it at this point for people who are familiar with sister languages (if a loan not cognate from Hebrew: peloni) or neighbouring foreign languages unless I find new material. Daftar is also found in almost all Oriental languages but it is still Greek.
    Jamshid
     

    jdibrahim

    Member
    Globish (English, German, French, Arabic)
    Spanish for Tom, Dick, and Harry (anybody and his brother) is "Fulano, Mengano, y Zutano". Perhaps they are from the same source?
    Yes, as folketymology Zutano is said to be from German "so getan: do/pretend as if" or is a proper name: Filanu e Martino.
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    jdibrahim,

    I pretty much suspect that Arabic [f] in fulan was originally [p]. Fulan cannot simply be Arabic.
    The "F" and "P" issue does not preclude the word from originally being Arabic. Look at the Arabic word Falasteen for instance. It comes from Semitic Filistia, borrowed into European languages as Phillistine/Palestine and then returned back into Semitic languages as Falasteen. Also it's quite feasible the Arabic and Hebrew words have a common Semitic ancestor which have just developed with slightly different pronunciations.

    Your claim it simply cannot be Arabic tells us a lot. You have decided from the outset it's not Arabic, and you just want to find anything you can to prove that. Rather than examining the evidence and basing your opinion on the facts.

    Daftar is also found in almost all Oriental languages but it is still Greek
    Daftar is a different issue, as it is a new object which the Arabs and other middle easterners weren't really using before. Also I think you'll find Daftar was borrowed into Arabic, and then with the rapid spread of Arabic in the early Islamic period, it spread to the other languages.

    Fulan/Peloni on the other hand pre-dates the Greek influence on the region, and therefore it's unlikely that these words would've originated from Greek, unless it was through Egyptian or some other channel.
     

    jdibrahim

    Member
    Globish (English, German, French, Arabic)
    1. I realise the origin of this word is much more obscure than expected. Also found in modern Spanish: particularly in the invented name "Fulano de Tal". In Persian fola:n is often paired with his indefinite colleague bahma:n.

    2. Compare Greek peloi in the phrase hoi peloi.


    3. Consider the possibility of Semitic peh-lamed-het (English fellah) + loss of het + nun suffix with the meaning "having the attributes of".



    That is all I can do so I am not going to take this topic any further and would like to leave it to others for more insight.
    Jamshid
     

    sinclair001

    Senior Member
    Colombia/Español
    I found this
    Gothic: fula*

    Language: got.

    Grammar: sw. M. (n)

    Translation (German): Fohlen, Fµllen (N.) (1)

    Translation (English): foal, colt

    Latin source: pullus

    Greek source: pw~loj

    Source: Bi (340-380)

    Etymology: germ. *ful¡-, *ful¡n, *fula-, *fulan, sw. M. (n), Fµllen (N.) (1), Fohlen, Junges; s. idg. *p¡ulos, *p¡los, Sb., Junges, Pokorny 842; vgl. idg. *p¡u-, *p u-, *p³¢-, Adj., Sb., klein, gering, wenig, Junges, Pokorny 842, Lehmann F102

    Attestations: Akk. Sg. fulan Luk 19,30 CA; Luk 19,33 CA CA (ganz in spitzen Klammern); Luk 19,35 CA2; Mrk 11,3 CA; Mrk 11,4 CA; Mrk 11,5 CA; Mrk 11,7 CA; Dat. Sg. fulin Joh 12,15 CA
    In: http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cach...1+etymology+of+fulan&hl=es&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=co
     

    Frank06

    Senior Member
    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Hi,
    I found this
    Gothic: fula*
    Language: got.
    Grammar: sw. M. (n) [snipped]


    I fail to see what a similar looking word in Gothic has to do with Arabic 'fulan'. It is not enough to quote from a dictionary, without you giving some explanation on why you would use that quote in this context in the first place.
    Please elaborate on this.

    Groetjes,

    Frank
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    2. Compare Greek peloi in the phrase hoi peloi.
    Did you mean to write οἱ πολλοί (hoi polloi)? If so, I fail to see a similarity between this and fulaan. :confused: Please elaborate upon this.

    3. Consider the possibility of Semitic peh-lamed-het (English fellah) + loss of het + nun suffix with the meaning "having the attributes of".
    English fellah comes from Arabic فلاح (fallaa7) (in the meaning of "farmer" or "well-being"?). Again, I don't see any connection to fulaan.

    That is all I can do so I am not going to take this topic any further and would like to leave it to others for more insight.
    I'd like to tell you that if etymological dictionary claim the origin is unknown and you say it is from Greek, we might not be able to follow you. You can't provide a Greek word (nor can I, and we could leave it as it), and you want to tell us that the origin is unknown, I can't understand why you still claim it is from Greek.

    As Abu Rashid has already told you, we cannot say it is not derived from a Greek, but can you prove the opposite?

    I fail to see what a similar looking word in Gothic has to do with Arabic 'fulan'. It is not enough to quote from a dictionary, without you giving some explanation on why you would use that quote in this context in the first place.
    Please elaborate on this.
    Same here, Frank. Fohlen (cognate with Greek φῶλος - phôlos) is from IE *pôu- and means "little, a few". So, it is not related to the Semitic word of this thread.
     

    elpoderoso

    Senior Member
    English
    Interesting, I just looked at the link given by Jaxlarus and I noticed:
    Arabic Fulan
    Spanish/Portuguese Fulano
    Iranian Folani
    Malaysia Polan
    and also Turkish falanca?
    I imagine the original is the Arabic but does anyone know what the word means?
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Yes, in Arabic فلن (fulan) means someone or other, so-and-so, and does not appear to be connected with anything else in Arabic, so it must come from elsewhere. The Real Academia says about the Spanish fulano with the same meaning (Del ár.hisp. fulán, este delár.clás. fulān, y este quizá del egipcio pw rn, este hombre). The Egyptian referred to being that of the hieroglyphics.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I may be wrong, but I seem to recall that fulan is originally from an African language. Spanish and Portuguese got the word from Arabic.
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    The Iberian languages got it from the Arabic which, my source says, got it from the (Ancient) Egyptian pw rn (this man), which was in fact spoken in Africa. If you don't accept this, consult this fairly recent but indecisive thread on this very word, fulan. It is a word that occurs in many languages, sometimes in the form pulan (which considering the frequent r/l variation ties up with the Ancient Egyptian):
    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=531467&highlight=fulan&page=2
     

    jaxlarus

    Senior Member
    Greek (el-CY)
    درود از قبرس! احتیاج شما داریم بی زحمت


    I'm far from being sure about this, but I believe that the Arabic fulan and the subsequent Turkish falan, Spanish/Portuguese fulano, Indonesian fulan, Zulu fulani etc derive from the Persian indefinite pronoun folân [فلان] meaning a certain, such and such (a person), any one.

    I came to this conclusion because pronouns in Farsi are often produced with the suffix -ân, which by itself [آن] is the demonstrative pronoun that. Other such examples: bahmân [بهمان] (which means the same as folân), hamân [همان], hamagân [همگان], digerân, degarân [دگران].
    شما چه عقیده دارید؟
    لطفاً به انگایسی جواب بدهید.
    سپاسگزارام
     

    jaxlarus

    Senior Member
    Greek (el-CY)
    I'm far from being sure about this, but I believe that the Arabic fulan and the subsequent Turkish falan, Spanish/Portuguese fulano, Indonesian fulan, Zulu fulani etc derive from the Persian indefinite pronoun folân [فلان] meaning a certain, such and such (a person), any one.

    I came to this conclusion because pronouns in Farsi are often produced with the suffix -ân, which by itself [آن] is the demonstrative pronoun that. Other such examples: bahmân [بهمان] (which means the same as folân), hamân [همان], hamagân [همگان], digerân, degarân [دگران].

    My knowledge of the language is of course quite limited, so I'll start another thread here, hoping the Farsi natives will contribute, even though there was a similar thread here not very long ago.

    By the way the assumption that the word derives from Greek seems way too odd for me... Maybe a user with a far better knowledge of classical Greek could solve that mystery for me as well.
     

    Kurdistanish

    Member
    Kurdish/Azerbaijani Turkish/Persian
    Dorud Barâdar-e Yunâni!

    Well I don’t know for sure if the Persian ‘felan’/’folan’ is an Arabic borrowing or not. But if it was a pure Iranian word later borrowed by Arabic, the asserted hypothesis seems to be right. Persian > Arabic, Indonesian, Turkish; Arabic > Spanish/Portuguese. Turkish itself is filled up with Arabic and Iranian loanwords. Existence of such Persian word in Indonesian isn’t improbable. You can find some other loanwords of Iranian origin in this language too (e.g. gandum* < Persian gandom ‘wheat’) as Iranian and Indic traders introduced Islam to Indonesia. Also it’s fairly possible to find it as a loanword in Spanish and Portuguese through Arabic. But the Zulu one could occur causally.

    I cannot stay with the conclusion but also unable to reject it. In addition to the examples: plus Persian ‘bahman’ there exists Kurdish ‘bîsan’ (behman ~ bîsman > bîswan > bîsan ?) ~ ‘filan û bîsan’ which also is used in daily Persian ‘felân o bisân’ along with ‘felân o behmân’. People always use these words together as an expression. Especially ‘behmân’/’bîsan’ is never used solely. If any one could issue any proven connection between ‘behmân’/’bîsan’ and ‘felân’, the hypothesis would be plainly proved.
     

    Rajki

    Member
    Hungarian
    Arabic filan, fulan seem to be of purely Semitic origin. Please check out 'Etymology' on the English Wikipedia (There is an Arabic Etymology at the bottom).
     

    relativamente

    Senior Member
    catalan and spanish
    I think the etymology given by the Spanish Real Academia is plausible and the word probably has an Egyptian origin. In fact the Fulani people that nowadays live in western Africa are nomads and some say they lived first near the Nile. Acording to the entry of Wikipedia the name Fulani are given to them by the Hausa people, and so the meaning of "this man" is plausible.
     
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    mataripis

    Senior Member
    X as variable, undefined presence of matter or energy. For me that word "Fulan" is synonymous with "Alon" (waves in Tagalog) and "Bulan"(moon in Dumaget).when it refers to a thing and person with no real identity,it is under the influence of changing events such as the influence of moon's magnetic waves to the behavior of humans and other beings.That word "Fulan" i guess is of Aramaic origin.
     

    origumi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    I think that Arabic Fulan can be pure Semitic. Hebrew has a (possibly) cognate Ploni פלוני that means a certain (person/place). It appears several times in the Bible (Ruth 4:1, 2 Kings 6:8, 1 Samuel 21:3). Always followed idiomatically by another word almoni אלמוני. The sound is somewhat Greek and there are some theories about the word origin. Could Greek originate this word in 1000 BC Hebrew? Not too likely. Is it from Aramaic? The are very few Aramaisms in these parts of the Bible. Arabic influence on Hebrew? Too early. Hebrew loanword in Arabic? The vowel shift is too significant for such assumption. An international term, maybe from Sumerian / Akkadian / Egyptian, maybe via formal procedures (law, science, etc.)? I don't know if there's a good candidate for the source. Therefore a common Semitic origin makes sense.
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    I think that Arabic Fulan can be pure Semitic. Hebrew has a (possibly) cognate Ploni פלוני that means a certain (person/place). It appears several times in the Bible (Ruth 4:1, 2 Kings 6:8, 1 Samuel 21:3). Always followed idiomatically by another word almoni אלמוני.
    I think פלוני and فلان must be cognate. فلان can also exist in Arabic as فلاني fulāni which is just the adjective ("nisbah") form ("such-and-such (X)" rather than "so-and-so"). Since the words can be related by regular Semitic sound change rules (Heb /p/ > Ara /f/) (Ara /ā/ > Heb /ō/), we could posit a proto-form *p_lān (where the vowel in _ might be uncertain?).

    I'm not sure what the opinion is on the date of authorship of Ruth (such that it precludes something like a Greek or Persian borrowing). However the composition of Kings is quite old, is it not? I think the writing is old enough there to substantiate an old usage for this word.

    I'm not sure how likely it is that the measure [C1 _ C2 ā C3] would be used for a "person" (at least from my experience with Arabic templates. Usually a person is C1 ā C2 i C3 or C1 a C2 C2 ā C3 or some of the other participial and adjective forms like C1 a C2 ī/ū C3 or mimated participles). So it could be an early borrowing into Semitic. But the regular sound correspondences between the two words are difficult to ignore, and make borrowings from Greek or Persian (or Tagalog, for that matter :rolleyes:) difficult for me to swallow because these would be relatively late borrowings.
     
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