Farsi: ميز

Faylasoof

Senior Member
English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
The Farsi-Urdu word for table (ميز ) is likely a foreign import. In Pahlavi the word from which ميز may seem to be derived is: meeziidan (ميزيدن ). This had two meanings. [1] to suck (not relevant to this topic); (2) to make an offering, to offer a meal. The word mez (ميز ) itself as derived from this verb meant ‘an offering / a meal’ but seems not to refer to ‘table’, while ‘mezbaan’ (ميزبان ) was a ‘host’; any host – still used in both Farsi and Urdu to mean the same. The word for table / tray in Pahlavi was ‘khwaan’ (خوان ) and in New Persian means the same. In Urdu too it is so used but now very much less so than before. However we still use ‘dastarkhwaan’ (دسترخوان ) to mean a ‘food spread’, much like the original meaning of the Arabic al-maa’idah (المائدة ). There has been a suggestion that mez (ميز ) = table, is derived from a Romance language – Portuguese has been suggested as a possible source of this. Any ideas?
 
  • Nikola

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Hello,
    This question originated in the Arabic forum. I have read that it's use in some Arabic dialects comes from Farsi and or Portuguese. Unfortunately I do not have any "official" reference for it. The word for table in Portuguese is mesa, the "s" is pronounced like a "z". So it is quite possible, maybe someone has a Persian source with the etymology.
     

    Frank06

    Senior Member
    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Hi,

    The word for table in Portuguese is mesa, the "s" is pronounced like a "z".
    A quick sidenote on the Portuguese word: mesa comes from Latin mensa, at least according to Da Cunha's Dicionário etimológico da língua portuguesa. But back to Arabic Persian :).

    Groetjes,

    Frank
     
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    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Hello Nikola, Yes, this originated here:http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1204025 I thought it would be inappropriate for us to discuss this there in the Arabic forum both because it is a non-Arabic word and because we are talking etymology. Hence this thread. I am also hoping that Persian experts, either in Iran or abroad, will be curious to read and comment on the etymology of this word here. Unfortunately all the Persian dictionaries I’ve seen never bother with etymologies!! … and Frank you are quite correct about the Latin origin of the Portuguese ‘mesa’, which Nikola has told us is pronounced as ‘meza’. A Romance language expert seems to confirm this Latin link. So, my own theory - probably all wrong, but I shall blurt it out anyway- is that we Indians (Urdu-Hindi speakers especially) took the ‘mesa’ from the Portuguese (they had an established colony in Goa and besides being active traders also provided us with many other loan words), and we in turn passed it on to the Iranians. The presence of the same / very similar sounding Pahlavi word seems to have confused the issue. From Farsi it has found a place in some Arabic dialects. To me this seems quite a likely route. If ever this theory is proved right, then we shall have turned the tables on the etymology of ميز ! Now let us see what real Persian language experts have to say to all this.
     

    Nikola

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Hello Faylasoof,
    The Portuguese occupied Muscat Oman for a 140-year period 1508–1648.
    The Portuguese controlled the UAE for 150 years. While waiting for a Persian/Farsi source, the notion that the word is Portuguese and then Farsi is quite possible. At that time many Arabs were not using tables on a regular basis, Do you know if they were common in Persia at that time? As you know in the Arabic countries and Formal Arabic other European loan words are also used.
     

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    Two question regarding the Portuguese etymology:

    1. How long has the word existed? 150 years? 550 years?

    2. Does the word exist in other Romance languages and/or Vulgar Latin?
     

    Nikola

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Mahaodeh,
    In Portuguese mesa has existed at least since the 10th century it comes from Latin many centuries earlier.
    Yes it exists in other Romance languages.
     

    Frank06

    Senior Member
    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Hi,

    I think it's useful to check out Köbler's Indogermanisches Wörterbuch (html), Latin mensa (>Pt. mesa) is treated on page 182f (pdf!).
    Alas, this dictionary mainly concentrates upon Germanic languages, Greek, Latin.
    I am still searching for more information on Persian (and IIr languages), but yesterday these databases were down (once again, gvd).

    Groetjes,

    Frank
     

    Lugubert

    Senior Member
    The Persian dictionary of Steingass (1892) doesn't mention miz = table.
    Neither does Platts for Urdu (1884).

    Is. Béroukhim: Dictionnaire Persan-Francais (1932) does.

    Yule, Burnell: Hobson-Jobson (1st ed. 1883)is often helpful for words in India. Not this time; no mez/miz etc.

    I vote Portuguese.
     

    Frank06

    Senior Member
    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Hi,
    The Persian dictionary of Steingass (1892) doesn't mention miz = table.
    The online version does, see here:
    میز mez, mīz, A stranger, a guest; preparations for entertaining a guest; a table; a chair on which people eat their dinner; (for A. maiz) discrimination, discernment; (imp. of meḵẖtan) make water; one who makes water; urine;--mezi (mīzi) taḥrīr, A writing-table (m.c.).
    Groetjes,

    On the other hand, I found this article on Bengali vocabulary (okay, that's neither Persian nor Urdu and yes, the source is Wikipedia), but in that article mez / mej is described as a loan from Portuguese. Which seems to be an indication that miz/mez etc. doesn't have an IIR etymology...

    Frank
     
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    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    At that time many Arabs were not using tables on a regular basis, Do you know if they were common in Persia at that time?

    At that time, the Arabs in the UAE did not use tables a lot; but Arabs in general did use tables, and they had been using them for a very long time.

    I would imagine the same in Iran, maybe some seculded groups (in rural areas or nomads) did not use them much, but Persians in general did.

    I've heard the word only in Iraq frankly; so my best bet is that this is a direct import from Persian, probably relatively recent too since it didn't travel westwards much.
     

    lcfatima

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Perhaps a native speaker from the UAE or Muscat can confirm this, but as far as I know both in Emirati and Musqati Arabic table is taulah, not mez. I believe mez is used in some parts of Saudi and some other places in the Khaleej. I always thought it was a Portuguese to Farsi to Hindustani to Khaleeji or Portuguese to Farsi to Khaleeji loanword. Incidentally, the word is in Swahili, too, (mezi) most likely either coming from the Arab occupation of the East African coast, or later from from the Portuguese occupiers.
     
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    arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    The word miz (classical pronounciation mez with long e) is Persian, it has nothing to do with mistan,mez-(to urinate) and mixtan,mez-(to suck;also to urinate in some Persian dictionaries) as suggested in a previous post. It is attested in Middle Persian in the form of mezd, with long e, and meant meal or offering, hence mezdobaan (now mizbaan, host) meaning one who serves meal to the guests! problem solved!:)
     
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    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    In Pahlavi, the only word with the closest association with 'table' appears to be khwaan’ (خوان ) = tray / table.

    As stated in post 1, ميز didn't mean 'table' in Pahlavi.
     

    arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    In Pahlavi, the only word with the closest association with 'table' appears to be khwaan’ (خوان ) = tray / table.

    As stated in post 1, ميز didn't mean 'table' in Pahlavi.

    All languages evolve over time not only morphologically but also semantically. Various Middle Persian words have different meanings in New Persian but that does not automatically mean that the New Persian equivalent is a foreign word, ex.

    New Persian-----Middle Persian
    neyrang(trick,ruse)---nerang (spell,incantation)
    jastan(to jump)------jastan(to happen)

    mezd happens to be one of those words whose meaning has evolved and in a rather rational way, at least compared to the examples given above. In Middle Persian, mezd(o)baan is attested with the meaning of "host" as in New Persian and that provides a clear evidence for what I said. In addition, early usages of miz in classical Persian were pretty diverse, in farhang-e moin in addition to table, it's also defined as Asbaab-e mehmaani and other Persian dictionaries even use it to denote the food served in a mehmaani!

    In addition, your derivation from mizidan is wrong! mistan,mixtan and mizidan have been define as "to urinate" or "to suck" in both Mackenzie's Pahlavi dictionary and Moin's Persian dictionary. The correct Middle Persian form is mezd as I indicated and explained, I'll try to check Dehxodaa's loghatnaame as well! but I really doubt there would be such a verb as mizidan with the meaning of offering meal!!!
     
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    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    ...early usages of miz in classical Persian were pretty diverse, in farhang-e moin in addition to table, it's also defined as Asbaab-e mehmaani and other Persian dictionaries even use it to denote the food served in a mehmaani!


    How early is this usage of miz? I mean as a table.
     

    arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    How early is this usage of miz? I mean as a table.

    Here is what I found in Dehxodaa's loghatnaameh:
    Here's what I found in the WR Rules (#4):
    "Quotes and translations of prose up to 4 sentences are permitted." Okay, I admit, badjens hastam. But please edit your post :).
    Frank, moderator EHL
    Based on the references it gives from early dictionaries, it should date back to late medieval times, but it's a rough estimate!
     
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    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Based on the references it gives from early dictionaries, it should date back to late medieval times, but it's a rough estimate!

    Quite! All rather vague!

    I've wondered why the word خوان, originally used for table /tray has fallen out of use and replaced by ميز ?

    I'm keeping an open mind about mezd (meal/offering) --> mez (table).

    The possibility still exists that the argument of mezd evolving rationally into mez is nothing more than over interpretation of two similar sounding words. A rational link between the two is a possibility but not proven. The Portuguese route cannot be eliminated.
     

    arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Quite! All rather vague!

    I've wondered why the word خوان, originally used for table /tray has fallen out of use and replaced by ميز ?

    I'm keeping an open mind about mezd (meal/offering) --> mez (table).

    The possibility still exists that the argument of mezd evolving rationally into mez is nothing more than over interpretation of two similar sounding words. A rational link between the two is a possibility but not proven. The Portuguese route cannot be eliminated.

    1- Mezd and mez are not two distinc words, they're the same, as the only word for "host" in Middle Persian is mezd(o)baan, mezbaan is not attested in Middle Persian, that's what I meant by saying it provides the evidence for the derivation of mez from mezd!
    2- The middle ages ended in the 1400, the Portuguese short-lived domination of parts of the Persian Gulf took place in early 1500 during the Safavid era! there's a gap of 100 years! Plus some of the dictionaries cited in Loghatnaameh, like Farhang-e Jahangiri and Nazem ol'attebaa cite medieval dictionaries as their sources!(i.e. composed before 1400!)
    I think the link is quite clear and there's no over interpretation!

    As for the word xvaan, it's not really used nowadays but it's understood as meaning "food spread" (sofre or sufra in your accent!), from this we have the diminutive xvaan-che which is used (probably because a diminutive from sofre would sound a bit odd "sofregak or sofreche or even worse sofragize!)!
     
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    BreannaD-K

    Member
    English - United States
    I know this thread is old, but I stumbled on it (and the Arabic thread from which it sprung) and can't resist adding to the discussion. I find it surprising that no one is mentioning the Moors , who came to/conquered Spain in the 700s and remained in southern Spain for hundreds of years. "Mesa" is the word for "table" in Spanish, and my bet is that this is one of the thousands of words that came to Arabic via Spanish (and, thereby, to other languages).
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    I know this thread is old, but I stumbled on it (and the Arabic thread from which it sprung) and can't resist adding to the discussion. I find it surprising that no one is mentioning the Moors , who came to/conquered Spain in the 700s and remained in southern Spain for hundreds of years. "Mesa" is the word for "table" in Spanish, and my bet is that this is one of the thousands of words that came to Arabic via Spanish (and, thereby, to other languages).
    The link to Portuguese (Romance) was mentioned in post 2.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    The word is clearly inherited and cognate to Skt. miyédha “a sacrificial offering of food”, apparently from *meyH, which could be an extension of *mey- “exchange” – compare La. mūnus “a service, duty; present, gift; public show at own expense”. Here's another formation that looks to be parallel, only from a different grade.
     
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    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran

    mesa (n.)

    "high table land, in the U.S. Southwest, a broad and flat region between canyons or rivers," 1759, from Spanish mesa "plateau," literally "table," from Latin mensa "table" for sacred offerings or for meals (source of Romanian masa, Old French moise "table"), which de Vaan writes is probably the feminine of the past participle mensus ("measured") of metiri (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure"),formed by analogy with pensus "weighed." He compares Umbrian mefa, mefe, name of a certain sacrificial object, perhaps cake, and writes, "In Latin, the meaning then shifted from the offering itself to the object on which the offerings were placed."

    from MacKensie Pahlavi dictionary:
    1659450516282.png


    Similar to Latin the meaning of Pahalvi mēzd has shifted from offering itself to the object on which the offerings were placed.

    And based on Sobakus' post 23, the 3 words (incl. Skt. miyédha) are most probably cognates.
     
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    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    And based on Sobakus' post 23, the 3 words (incl. Skt. miyédha) are most probably cognates.
    For the root of mēnsa < mētīrī, *meh₁- “measure”, there's an ostensibly related root *med- “measure, estimate so as to administer, fix, counteract etc.”, but neither looks to me to be obviously related to *mey- “exchange”. So although the semantic shift “object of offering > place of offering” is common, mēz(d) isn't cognate to mēnsa unless their PIE roots are related at an even older stage, which again it isn't obvious that they are.

    There is a common semantic shift in the actually cognate mūnus, which means “something offered publically and bestowing merit upon the giver”, originally “an item of exchange”.
     
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    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    Are the Turkish meze and the Greek μεζές from the Persian word?
    1659537167152.png

    mizag > miza > mazé to Turkish meze & Greek μεζές, maybe Greek borrowed it directly from Persian but seems unlikely.

    In modern Persian mazé means taste, as well any food accompaniments to alcoholic drinks, e.g. roasted nuts (pistachio especially), yoghurt & mint, BBQed meats etc, and I think it is that sense of it that has been borrowed into Turkish.
     
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    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    For the root of mēnsa < mētīrī, *meh₁- “measure”, there's an ostensibly related root *med- “measure, estimate so as to administer, fix, counteract etc.”, but neither looks to me to be obviously related to *mey- “exchange”. So although the semantic shift “object of offering > place of offering” is common, mēz(d) isn't cognate to mēnsa unless their PIE roots are related at an even older stage, which again it isn't obvious that they are.
    I get it now, thank you.
     

    BreannaD-K

    Member
    English - United States
    The link to Portuguese (Romance) was mentioned in post 2.
    I read through the thread but simply hadn't noticed anyone specifically mention Spanish. Historically, I'm just curious if the word first made it's way from Spanish to Arabic during the years of Moorish Spain.
     

    raamez

    Senior Member
    Arabic (Syria)
    View attachment 74930
    mizag > miza > mazé to Turkish meze & Greek μεζές, maybe Greek borrowed it directly from Persian but seems unlikely.

    In modern Persian mazé means taste, as well any food accompaniments to alcoholic drinks, e.g. roasted nuts (pistachio especially), yoghurt & mint, BBQed meats etc, and I think it is that sense of it that has been borrowed into Turkish.
    Levantine Arabic has many words (nouns and verbs) which have m-z in them and are about eating, drinking, taste, etc.
    I checked in some dictionaries and it seems that some of which are also to be found in Standard Arabic.
    Examples of which are:
    نبيت مزّ nbeet mazz dry wine, because مزازة is a taste between sour and sweet
    تمزمز tmazmaz [v.] to slowly enjoy a food or a drink
    مزة mazzeh is delightful taste
    مازة maazah is what is called mezze (appetizer) in English
    I wonder if they all are from persian or if some are native Arabic words?
     
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    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    تمزمز tmazmaz [v.] to slowly enjoy a food or a drink
    مازة maazah is what is called mezze (appetizer) in English
    There are many words of Persian origin that have been incorporated into Arabic and these look like them.

    Of course if there's evidence of this word in other Semitic languages, pre Middle Persian, we have something.
     
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    BreannaD-K

    Member
    English - United States
    Attempted summary:

    1. It appears that words related to taste with an m-z root developed within either Arabic or Farsi before becoming loanwords/further developing within the other. The Arabic and Farsi words for "table" in question could have sprung from this "taste" origin.

    2. Within Spanish and Portuguese, the word "mesa" for "table" can be traced to the Vulgar Latin "mensa" and the correlated meanings of "offering" or even measurements.

    Conclusions/observations based on summary:

    3. We don't know if the similarity between these words in Arabic, Farsi, and Romance languages is coincidental or if linguistic sharing played a part long, long ago. (My own two cents: The Latin "s" is not pronounced as "z," so there'd have to be a consonant shift at some point. That seems unlikely in Arabic, as the "s" sound exists and would need no replacement. I know nothing of Farsi.)

    4. If, despite the consonant shift, we determine that linguistic sharing indeed happened between Arabic or Farsi and Romance languages during Portuguese or Spanish presence (i.e. after the birth of the respective languages from Vulgar Latin), then the origin would have to be Latin.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Attempted summary:

    1. It appears that words related to taste with an m-z root developed within either Arabic or Farsi before becoming loanwords/further developing within the other. The Arabic and Farsi words for "table" in question could have sprung from this "taste" origin.
    Persian ميز mēz “table” developed from MP mēzd “sacrificial offering” via the “object > where it's placed” metonymy. No meaning “taste” was involved. See message #23.
    2. Within Spanish and Portuguese, the word "mesa" for "table" can be traced to the Vulgar Latin "mensa" and the correlated meanings of "offering" or even measurements.
    “Vulgar Latin” is a corrupt, undefinable, unscientific umbrella term loosely meaning “anything pre-10th century that's at variance with schoolbook Latin”. The word mēnsa “table” is perfectly schoolbook Latin, no vulgarity involved :)
    Conclusions/observations based on summary:


    3. We don't know if the similarity between these words in Arabic, Farsi, and Romance languages is coincidental or if linguistic sharing played a part long, long ago. (My own two cents: The Latin "s" is not pronounced as "z," so there'd have to be a consonant shift at some point. That seems unlikely in Arabic, as the "s" sound exists and would need no replacement. I know nothing of Farsi.)
    The similarity between Persian ميز mēz and Romance mesa is coincidental, it's certain that there was no sharing of this word in either direction. There's a possibility that the similarity is not entirely coincidental, but not due to sharing either. Rather, the reason might be that both words ultimately come from the same root as it existed at some earlier time than ~4000 BCE, and that had already produced two different roots in Proto-Indo-European, one meaning “exchange” (which gave mēz) and one meaning “measure” (which gave mesa). But again, one would have to demonstrate how these two PIE roots are related.

    But, although the Latin /s/ was intervocalically voiceless, it became voiced in medieval Iberian Romance, and so if the word had been borrowed from Old Spanish into Arabic, it would have likely had /z/. Later, Spanish devoiced all its fricatives.
    4. If, despite the consonant shift, we determine that linguistic sharing indeed happened between Arabic or Farsi and Romance languages during Portuguese or Spanish presence (i.e. after the birth of the respective languages from Vulgar Latin), then the origin would have to be Latin.
    Impossible – see above and message #23.
     
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    BreannaD-K

    Member
    English - United States
    Apparently I've never misunderstood something so thoroughly in my life. 😆

    At least I learned something thanks to sounding like an idiot. I'm a Spanish teacher with near-native fluency and never knew that /z/ existed in any form of Spanish.
     

    BreannaD-K

    Member
    English - United States
    Later, Spanish devoiced all its fricatives.
    Spanish does have a voiced fricative now, though. Although not usually as strong as /v/ in English (so I'm not sure if there's a separate IPA symbol for it), the sound does exist. Confuses the heck out of Spanish students, but "b" and "v" can both represent the sounds /b/ or /v/ depending on where they are in relation to other letters. But that's another thread entirely...
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Spanish does have a voiced fricative now, though. Although not usually as strong as /v/ in English (so I'm not sure if there's a separate IPA symbol for it), the sound does exist. Confuses the heck out of Spanish students, but "b" and "v" can both represent the sounds /b/ or /v/ depending on where they are in relation to other letters. But that's another thread entirely...
    Actually, the Spanish phoneme is a stop /b/ that undergoes weakening (lenition) into the bilabial (lip-lip) approximant [β] (more accurately transcribed as [β̞]) when it occurs between vowels or /r, l/. An approximant differs from a fricative in that there's no contact, only constriction of air passage, so basically it's a stop consonant aborted halfway. So if you ask a Spanish speaker to prolong a /b/, you'll get a stronger stopped [ b ] sound (which is no longer aborted), and not a continuous escape of air as with a fricative. This weakening also applies to /d/ and /g/.

    There's no /v/ or [v] at all in most varieties of Spanish, and the approximant [β] sounds rather like [w] to my ears. Some isolated varieties of Spanish do have the labiodental [v], perhaps even as a separate loaned phoneme.
     
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    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    I'm a Spanish teacher with near-native fluency and never knew that /z/ existed in any form of Spanish.
    If you look up some Ladino (Judaeo-Spanish) videos on YouTube, you'll notice that it preserves that voiced /z/ which is spelt <z>, contrasting with /s/ spelt <s> and doing so not just between vowels. It also perserves [d͡ʒ] and [ʒ] <j>, which don't have minimal pairs AFAIK but are sort of contrastive, and the former is often spelt <dj>. It's also among those varieties that have borrowed /v/ as a distinct phoneme (obviously from Hebrew), but its /b/ still undergoes lenition into [β̞], so it has a surface contrast between [v] and [β̞]. Accordingly, it strictily distinguishes between /v/ and /b/ in spelling, although some words have both forms.

    The Spanish Jews were expelled by a 1492 decree.
     
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    Platytude

    Senior Member
    English - AU
    Persian ميز mēz “table” developed from MP mēzd “sacrificial offering” via the “object > where it's placed” metonymy.
    Have you considered a timeframe for this development?

    Let's take the 1500s, for reference. If the meaning table was developed by then, we would expect the object table to have been present in Persian lifestyle. From what I know, there was no table depicted in numerous paintings before or around that time in Iran or India. Muslims also didn't put offerings on tables. Given the lack of literature reference by this thread's Persian and Urdu speakers, this meaning wasn't present in the literature either. So, a pre-1500s development couldn't have happened because there wasn't enough things the developed meaning could refer to.

    If the meaning table was developed in or after the 1500s, it was after the object table had been introduced by European traders. So, there was a time after the introduction but before that development when the object had another name. What was the object called during this gap? The obvious candidate would be the original mesa-sounding foreign word like how other cultures called this new furniture. Therefore, the post-1500s development didn't happen either because the object had already had that name.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Have you considered a timeframe for this development?

    Let's take the 1500s, for reference. If the meaning table was developed by then, we would expect the object table to have been present in Persian lifestyle. From what I know, there was no table depicted in numerous paintings before or around that time in Iran or India. Muslims also didn't put offerings on tables. Given the lack of literature reference by this thread's Persian and Urdu speakers, this meaning wasn't present in the literature either. So, a pre-1500s development couldn't have happened because there wasn't enough things the developed meaning could refer to.

    If the meaning table was developed in or after the 1500s, it was after the object table had been introduced by European traders. So, there was a time after the introduction but before that development when the object had another name. What was the object called during this gap? The obvious candidate would be the original mesa-sounding foreign word like how other cultures called this new furniture. Therefore, the post-1500s development didn't happen either because the object had already had that name.
    In general, granted that the custom of dining at the table and sitting on a chair was foreign to Persia, “a piece of furniture with a raised flat surface, typically on 4 legs, a table, board (esp. for dining)” was known in MP (Pahlavi) as خوان xwān – this was already mentioned in the first message. The ritual table was known as ālāt-xwān. The word has even been borrowed into Arabic. Conversely, Persia was the epicenter of medieval culture in contact with the Byzantines and the Chinese, who did use tables.

    The NP word ميز mēz~mīz doesn't just refer to “table”, but to things related to food and hospitality, and has several derivatives relating to the same. Cf. reply #11, which quotes this dictionary, and notice the words for “nuptials” and “feast, banquet” just below. Judging by the meaning “chair”, we can abstract the meaning as “a flat surface involved in offering food and hospitality”. The meaning “host” stands out and could be a shortening from mēz(do)bān.

    Significantly, the MP (Pahlavi) word mēzd was centered around ritual, celebratory community meals. I haven't been able to find out whether these involved placing food on raised surfaces or not (I don't suppose they involved chairs).​

    As for the dating, there has been some discussion in this thread, including references to “late medieval times”, but nothing concrete has been offered. A rough earliest attestation date for the meaning “table” would really be nice.
     
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    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Another question is, if the word is a borrowing in Persian, where did the final vowel go? I have barely any idea about the historical phonology of Persian, but I have a strong suspicion that the loss of final short unstressed vowels happened rather around 750 than around 1500. Which is why footnote 22 on p. 376 of this publication has to explain mēz as originating in some Indo-Portuguese creole, or in Konkani on the western coast of India. Which hardly explains the word's massive spread in all directions centered precisely on Iran (Iraqi Arabic, Hindustani, Turkish). It also suggests Persian itself as the possible borrowing language, but again, the loss of final vowels in Old Persian wouldn't explain its absence in a word supposedly borrowed around 1500 – unless this was the regular pattern of borrowing at the time. Cf. this dictionary of Portuguese Vocables in Asiatic Languages (originally from 1919), where the compounds in Indic languages are clearly borrowings from Persian, but the closer you get to the Indian ocean, the more obviously Portuguese the words for “table” have to be.
     

    Platytude

    Senior Member
    English - AU
    Another question is, if the word is a borrowing in Persian, where did the final vowel go? ... Which hardly explains the word's massive spread in all directions centered precisely on Iran (Iraqi Arabic, Hindustani, Turkish)
    That thing at the end of mesa may be too short to be considered a vowel in Persian. The pronunciation of (modern) Portuguese mesa and NP mēz would almost be identical to a Persian ear. There might have been back then too. There is no need for Konkani to explain the loss of that vowel.
    ... hardly explains the word's massive spread in all directions centered precisely on Iran (Iraqi Arabic, Hindustani, Turkish)
    This is 1000km off. The centre of this spread is around Indus, between Bengal in the east and Iraq in the west. Turkish used maṣṣa (now masa) for table that is impossible to be a Persian loan. By the way, this centre is meaningless. From East India to West Iran was basically two linguistic units (two contiguous empires with unified languages each).
    where the compounds in Indic languages are clearly borrowings from Persian, but the closer you get to the Indian ocean, the more obviously Portuguese the words for “table” have to be.
    Sindhi (then spoken in Pakistan) has mezu and meza, Hindi (not even close to the sea) has menz, and Turkish has maṣṣa. All of these show that, there were multiple local contacts with a non-Perso-Arabic word (because of ṣād in Turkish), with some form of a nasal vowel (a vestige of Latin mensa) and an uncertain final vowel (like unstressed schwa). The Turkish could have bee borrowed from any South European language but the others point to the Portuguese origin with a pronunciation like [mĕzǝ].

    This painting is probably the first depiction of using a table proper in Iran, that is by the Portuguese in Persian Gulf. It's a total contrast with the contemporary feast paintings of the region. That would have been a truly bizarre experience for an Iranian bystander or guest, probably leaving them short of words (pun intended) for describing it. Just imagine what would that person (or their wondering Indian counterpart) be replied to after asking "what is this"? I would imagine they'd be told "it's a [mĕzǝ]" and what they heard would be up to their ear's habit.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    That thing at the end of mesa may be too short to be considered a vowel in Persian. The pronunciation of (modern) Portuguese mesa and NP mēz would almost be identical to a Persian ear. There might have been back then too. There is no need for Konkani to explain the loss of that vowel.
    If you're thinking about Lisboa Portuguese, medieval Portuguese didn't sound like that; it's phonology resembled Brazilian and Angolan Portuguese. In these varieties the vowel at the end of mesa is an unmistakeable /a/. As for the Lisboa Portuguese pronunciation, a modern Persian speaker couldn't fail to hear a vowel there any more than an English speaker. Persian has no prosthetic final schwas, unlike French. Even in modern EP, unlike other vowels, the low vowel /a/ is never deleted; this is mirrored in Catalan, Neapolitan and even Old French.
    This is 1000km off. The centre of this spread is around Indus, between Bengal in the east and Iraq in the west. Turkish used maṣṣa (now masa) for table that is impossible to be a Persian loan. By the way, this centre is meaningless. From East India to West Iran was basically two linguistic units (two contiguous empires with unified languages each).
    I didn't mean Turkish maṣṣa but Ottoman Turkish mīz (mentioned in the footnote). I don't see where maṣṣa with a ṣād is mentioned, and this doesn't map to any Romance variety, not even Spanish; while modern masa is clearly from Bulgarian masa, from Balkan Romance, from Latin. There's massa in the dictionary I linked, and this seems to correspond to the modern word with the <ss> standing for a voiceless /s/.

    While your estimation of the location is better, this centre is not meaningless because Persian exerted great influence on the languages of West Hindustan, with many borrowings and calques in Punjabi, Sindhi and Hindustani. These borrowings specifically include words derived from mēzd, as shown in the dictionary I linked.
    Sindhi (then spoken in Pakistan) has mezu and meza, Hindi (not even close to the sea) has menz, and Turkish has maṣṣa. All of these show that, there were multiple local contacts with a non-Perso-Arabic word (because of ṣād in Turkish), with some form of a nasal vowel (a vestige of Latin mensa) and an uncertain final vowel (like unstressed schwa). The Turkish could have bee borrowed from any South European language but the others point to the Portuguese origin with a pronunciation like [mĕzǝ].
    The nasal vowels in these borrowings aren't a vestige of the Latin because they never had contact with Latin. The vowel was likely non-contrastively nasalised by the initial /m/, either in Portuguese or in some local language; some languages interpreted the nasalisation as contrastive. The Turkish word can only be from a Balkan language.
    This painting is probably the first depiction of using a table proper in Iran, that is by the Portuguese in Persian Gulf. It's a total contrast with the contemporary feast paintings of the region. That would have been a truly bizarre experience for an Iranian bystander or guest, probably leaving them short of words (pun intended) for describing it. Just imagine what would that person (or their wondering Indian counterpart) be replied to after asking "what is this"? I would imagine they'd be told "it's a [mĕzǝ]" and what they heard would be up to their ear's habit.
    Again, what they heard from the Portuguese should have mapped phonemically to /mēza/. I'm not saying that people in the region dined at tables or that the Portuguese practice wasn't bewildering to them. But this is different from demonstrating that the word describing the practice is a borrowing. A very simple competing explanation is that the native, similar-sounding word mēz was used to describe the practice because it already had to do with feasting and hospitality, at least around Persia where it already existed. Or the word may have only survived in the compounds, with e.g. mēzbān re-interpreted as “table-master”. This would make the word in this meaning a cross, and the parallel both accidental and not.
     
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    Platytude

    Senior Member
    English - AU
    while modern masa is clearly from Bulgarian masa. I don't see where maṣṣa with a ṣād is mentioned
    Modern masa is the post-Republic spelling of Ottoman Turkish ماصه (see Redhouse Ottoman Turkish dictionaries of the late 1800s for the latter. They don't list miz).

    With some help, I got the entry for mēz in a comprehensive online Persian dictionary and managed to check its sources (in brackets) against the the Persian dictionaries listed in Iranica. They include Indian dictionaries Jahāngīrī and Borhān (1600s), Ānand Rāj and Ḡīāṯ al-loḡāt (1800s), Iranian dictionaries Anjuman ārā (1800s) and Nāẓam-al-Aṭṭebā (1900s) and Šoʿūrī [of Aleppo?] (1700s) that is based on Jahāngīrī among others. I'm not sure what each source contributes to the entry, but none is surely "medieval" and the oldest ones originate in India a century after the Portuguese presence.

    My understanding is that because of its similarity with mēz "feast", Indian authors thought it was a Persian word and repeated this error in a sequence of dictionaries. Meanwhile, I believe native Persian speakers were mostly unaware of this "Persian" word. Nevertheless, the word and the object eventually entered Iran together after the reemergence of Indo-Persian relations in the 1800s that led to a cultural flow from India to Iran:
    Meanwhile, diverse trends in Indo-Persian cultural and intellectual encounters and exchanges continued throughout the Qajar period (1796-1925), albeit with increasing European-influenced attributes (in both secular and religious arenas), and chiefly flowing from India to Persia.

    This would explain the confusion about the two words, resolve the anachronism between the meaning and the object, explain the absence of the word in Persian classical literature, address the concern about the final vowel (it's a Hindi problem now 😁), and show why the Persian word is apparently absent in other languages influenced by Persian for centuries (SE Asian language, MA Turkic language, Swahili, and non-neighbouring Arabic dialects).
     
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