IRAQ Etymology

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ancalimon

Senior Member
Turkish
Is this the correct etymology of Iraq? Or is there another one?

Proto-Turkic: *ɨra-k
Altaic etymology: Altaic etymology


Meaning: far, distant
Russian meaning: далекий
Old Turkic: ɨraq (OUygh.)
Karakhanid: jɨraq (MK, KB)
Turkish: ɨrak adv.
Tatar: jɨraq
Middle Turkic: jɨraq (Pav. C., MA), ɨraq (Pav. C.)
Uzbek: jirɔq, irɔq
Uighur: jiraq
Sary-Yughur: jiraq, jürɨq
Azerbaidzhan: iraG adv.
Turkmen: ɨrāq (арх.)
Khakassian: ɨrax
Oyrat: ɨraq, raq
Halaj: hɨrāq
Yakut: ɨrāx
Dolgan: ɨrāk
Tuva: ɨraq
Tofalar: ɨraq
Kirghiz: ɨraaq
Kazakh: žɨraq
Bashkir: jɨraq
Gagauz: jɨraq
Karaim: jɨraq
Karakalpak: ɨraq, žɨraq
Salar: jɨrax
Kumyk: jɨraq
Comments: PT*ɨra-k- is derived from *ɨra- 'to be far'. See EDT 198, 214, ЭСТЯ 4, 286-287, Stachowski 261.
 
  • relativamente

    Senior Member
    catalan and spanish
    I do not really know but I don't think it is plausible, since the name of this country beginns with the arabic letter ع
    That is a consonant, usually not transliterated to other languages.If this word came from turkish I don't see any reason to appear this letter
    Besides if this word means far away, it is not logical, being the Irak in the very center on the most ancient civilisations.
    Having said that, it still thinkable that in fact the ethimology you propose could be right
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    1) The etymological hypotheses of the "Moscow School" are very, very far from being commonly accepted by linguists.
    2) The etymology is unclear. There are two main theories: A) From the Akkadian city name Uruk, itself from Sumerian Unug. B) From Middle-Persian eraq = lowlands.
    3) The proposed etymology you cited does not include the name of the country in Arabic. It includes only languages they call "Altaic" (that such a group exists at all is not a consensus view). Even by the most encompassing definition, this does not include Arabic, Persian, Akkadian or Sumerian.

    Summary: The text you quoted does not propose an etymology for the country name "Iraq" and there is no reason to understand it this way.
     
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    origumi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    A) From the Akkadian city name Uruk, itself from Sumerian Unug.
    But to accept this hypothesis, the following question must be answered:
    I do not really know but I don't think it is plausible, since the name of this country beginns with the arabic letter ع
    That is a consonant, usually not transliterated to other languages
    The Akkadians lost the 3ayin far far in their history.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    But to accept this hypothesis, the following question must be answered:

    The Akkadians lost the 3ayin far far in their history.
    That doesn't say much. Presence or absence of phonemic 'ayin is only significant for inherited words. Loans from languages where characteristics of the 'ayin are phonemically irrelevant could be either with or without an 'ayin. This is similar to the phenomenon that t or k were often rendered as emphatics. Also folk etymological interpretations of foreign words may influences the rendering of a loan.
     

    ancalimon

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    In Turkish IRAK as a contry is pronounced as this: http://translate.google.com/#tr|en|ırak (not with a short ı but a long ı. It sounds more like "IĞRAK". UĞRAK (which sounds a lot like IĞRAK in Turkish: http://translate.google.com/#tr|en|uğrak ) means somewhere you stop on your journey frequently. So some Turkic speaking people who were migrating West in the far past could have given the name. That's a possibility.)
     
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    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    The name "Iraq" has been used in Arabia since pre-Islamic times, long before any meaningful contact between Turks and Arabs or between Turks and Iraq. Thus, although the etymology of the word is apparently uncertain, a Turkic origin strikes me as quite implausible.

    My personal hunch is that it is an Arabian word derived from the root '-r-q, for "vein" or "root," owing to the rivers and canals around which that country is formed, especially as they run in parallel until finally joining together to pour into the Gulf, like the veins in the body or in a the leaf of a plant. That is the simplest explanation in my view.

    By the way, "Iraq" originally referred only to the southern half of Mesopotamia (from Tikrit southwards). Northern Mesopotamia (including the northern parts of modern-day Iraq) was historically known as Al-Jazeera and only recently became subsumed under the term "Iraq". Of course, the part of Mesopotamia that falls within the borders of modern-day Syria is still referred to as "Al-Jazeera."
     
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    ancalimon

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Maybe they made contact through the migrating Kushans (who were spreading religion) if the Kush people were related with them.

    Still that's a largely unexplored part of coincidences - anomalies in history.

    Still, thanks for your ideas.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Yet another version says 'Iraq' is from Arab "shore". According to my source, the name has first appeared in the 7-8th century after Arabian conquest.
     

    origumi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    The name "Iraq" has been used in Arabia since pre-Islamic times, long before any meaningful contact between Turks and Arabs or between Turks and Iraq. Thus, although the etymology of the word is apparently uncertain, a Turkic origin strikes me as quite implausible.
    Hebrew shares root 3rq (Job 30:17) and I guess that also Aramaic, which was the main language of Mesopotamia before the Arabic period. Therefore if this is truly the root - it may be of Aramaic origin.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Hebrew shares root 3rq (Job 30:17) and I guess that also Aramaic, which was the main language of Mesopotamia before the Arabic period. Therefore if this is truly the root - it may be of Aramaic origin.
    Is it attested in Aramaic with that meaning?
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    3RQ exists in different meaning in different Aramaic dialects. It shares with Hebrew the meaning to flee. (Source: enter "(rq" as search string)
     

    Derakhshan

    Senior Member
    Arabic, Persian
    I read about a Middle Persian etymology for Iraq, from MP ērāg "lowlands" < ēr "low".

    Does anyone know if ērāg is actually attested anywhere in Middle Persian as a toponym for Mesopotamia?
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I do not really know but I don't think it is plausible, since the name of this country beginns with the arabic letter ع
    That is a consonant, usually not transliterated to other languages.If this word came from turkish I don't see any reason to appear this letter
    To support the response that this doesn’t rule out a Turkish origin: Palestinian Arabic has معكرونة (“maʕkarōne”) from “macaroni,” where the “ʕ” was added.
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I think it's worth noting that no one on this thread has given an example of a non-Arabic cognate of the toponym 'Iraq' that predates the attested Arabic usage.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    To support the response that this doesn’t rule out a Turkish origin: Palestinian Arabic has معكرونة (“maʕkarōne”) from “macaroni,” where the “ʕ” was added.
    Yes. The Turkic source is ruled out by the historical factors, which make the hypothesis implausible. It just requires a very long chain of suppositions.
     

    Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    In the Persian Wikipedia it says the word Iraq was used in the sixth c. AD. Unfortunately there is no citing. Does anyone have an idea what this might be about? Or is it a typo for 6th c. AH?
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    In the Persian Wikipedia it says the word Iraq was used in the sixth c. AD. Unfortunately there is no citing. Does anyone have an idea what this might be about? Or is it a typo for 6th c. AH?
    Definitely A.D., but it could just as well have been taken from the name used by the inhabitants (this page says the Sassanids called it "Erak Arabi" but no source is given: Iraq).

    The proposed Persian origin of 'Erag' (lowland) ends with [g] كـ, which would not have been rendered with a qaf in Arabic but rather with a jiim as with other Persian loans.
     

    Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Definitely A.D., but it could just as well have been taken from the name used by the inhabitants (this page says the Sassanids called it "Erak Arabi" but no source is given: Iraq).
    Why do you think it is definitely AD? Do you have a source for it? The page you linked is from an outdated Wikipedia entry.
    The proposed Persian origin of 'Erag' (lowland) ends with [g] كـ, which would not have been rendered with a qaf in Arabic but rather with a jiim as with other Persian loans.
    It would have actually. Final g in Persian was usually represented by q in Arabic before and in early Islamic period.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    (this page says the Sassanids called it "Erak Arabi" but no source is given: Iraq).
    This is wiki-nonsense. In classical Arabic you have العراق العربى for southern Mesopotamia (Babylonia) and العراق العجمى for northern Mesopotamia (Media). These are Arabic, not Persian. They are not used in the Sasanian period.
     
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    Derakhshan

    Senior Member
    Arabic, Persian
    I think it's worth noting that no one on this thread has given an example of a non-Arabic cognate of the toponym 'Iraq' that predates the attested Arabic usage.
    I may have, which is why I'm asking about the Middle Persian term. Also, I found out that "Irāq al-Arab" only came to be used in Seljuq times, when the province of western Iran called Jibāl took the name Irāq al-Ajam, and so the "original" Iraq became known as Irāq al-Arab. Further, apparently the Umayyads had an Iraq province, so it was in use since at least those times.

    So my questions are (again) where exactly has Middle Persian ērāg/ērāk been attested (if at all), and when is the earliest attestation of العراق in Arabic?

    Also of interest is the fact that Iraq in Sorani Kurdish is Êraq /ʕērāq/, which has the same long [eː] or "majhul" yāʾ vowel as the supposed Middle Persian ērāg. Could it be a remnant from that?
     
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    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    ērag does not occur in Zoroastrian Pahlavi, but it does occur often in Manichaean Middle Persian (spelt ʼyrg) clearly with the meaning “south”. The suggestion (which I think goes back to Schaeder) is that the Arabic ʻirāq represents a folk-etymological assimilation of this Iranian name to the Arabic root ʻ-r-q “to sweat”.
     
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    Derakhshan

    Senior Member
    Arabic, Persian
    Thanks fdb.

    I have found here what is supposed to be the first attestation of Iraq as a toponym for southern Mesopotamia. It's from a Jewish Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowl and its spelling אירג ʾyrg is identical in spelling to the Middle Persian for 'south'. Seems pretty convincing.

    https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/oic22.pdf

    The term אירג was appropriately identified by Kaufman as ‘the earliest known occurrence of the name “Iraq”, here used in its original sense of southernmost Mesopotamia
    https://www.academia.edu/22398263/A...n_Aramaic_Magic_Bowl_IM_76106_Nippur_11_N_78_
     

    Attachments

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    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Why do you think it is definitely AD? Do you have a source for it?
    Because that's the word every Arabic source uses for that region since at least the beginning of Islam. Or are you talking about Persian? I doubt the word would be used in Arabic for the first six Islamic centuries without being known in Persian.

    The page you linked is from an outdated Wikipedia entry.
    Yes, which is why I said no source was given. I just mentioned it in case anyone here knew more about it.

    It would have actually. Final g in Persian was usually represented by q in Arabic before and in early Islamic period.
    Interesting. Can you give some examples please?
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Thanks fdb.

    I have found here what is supposed to be the first attestation of Iraq as a toponym for southern Mesopotamia. It's from a Jewish Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowl and its spelling אירג ʾyrg is identical in spelling to the Middle Persian for 'south'. Seems pretty convincing.

    https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/oic22.pdf


    https://www.academia.edu/22398263/A...n_Aramaic_Magic_Bowl_IM_76106_Nippur_11_N_78_
    Ok now we have something more substantive. Still, it's mentioned in a list of places in what is now Iraq (Babylon, Nahrayn (Is that northern Mesopotamia?), Mesene, etc.) so why are we assuming it's referring to southern Mesopotamia (or with the Persian 'Erag' for that matter)? It just seems odd that this word would be ubiquitous in Arabic but we would only have one solitary instance of it in Aramaic.
     

    Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Interesting. Can you give some examples please
    From early Islam: ابریق, خندق براق, زندیق and possibly فرزدق, also you have فستق, رستاق, سوق, etc later.
    It just seems odd that this word would be ubiquitous in Arabic but we would only have one solitary instance of it in Aramaic.
    Mandaic I think. There is not much of this dialect of Aramaic before 6th c. AD. And shortly after it Arabic became the official language of the land. It could have been a unofficial name for the land which became mainstream after Islam.
     

    JoMe

    Member
    Hebrew
    I have found here what is supposed to be the first attestation of Iraq as a toponym for southern Mesopotamia. It's from a Jewish Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowl and its spelling אירג ʾyrg is identical in spelling to the Middle Persian for 'south'. Seems pretty convincing.

    https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/oic22.pdf
    This is the relevant passage:
    Aramaic source: דין אשבעית עליכון, רוחי בבל וערב, רוחי אירג ומישון, רוחי פרת ודגלת נהרה
    Hebrew translation: זאת אני משביע עליכם, רוחי בבל וערב, רוחי אירג ומישון, רוחי נהר הפרת והחדקל
    English translation: This I adjure you, spirits of Babel and Arab, spirits of Irg and Mishon, spirits of Euphrates and Tigris river

    According to על ספרות הכישוף היהודי הבארצות האסלאם (Hebrew), "About Jewish Witchcraft Literature in Islamic Countries", page 20.
    And On Some Non-Standard Spellings in the Aramaic Magic Bowls and their Linguistic Significance, page 273.
     
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    Derakhshan

    Senior Member
    Arabic, Persian
    Still, it's mentioned in a list of places in what is now Iraq (Babylon, Nahrayn (Is that northern Mesopotamia?), Mesene, etc.) so why are we assuming it's referring to southern Mesopotamia (or with the Persian 'Erag' for that matter)?
    "Arab" refers to Arbāyistān/Bēṯ ʿArbāyē. The paper suggests "Babylonia (Āsōristān) and Arab (Arbāyistān)" refers to northern Mesopotamia, and "Erag and Mesene" refers to southern Mesopotamia, Mesene being the the "island" between the rivers, and Erag starting from the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates down to the coast.

    Here's the explanation from the paper:
    6. בבל וערב ... אירג ומישון ... פרת ודגלתנהרה ‘Babylonia and Arab (North Mesopotamia) … the southern lowlands and Mesene … the Euphrates and the Tigris River’—Instead of the four directions, the merism in the Nippur bowl (and MS 1927/7) is based on an enumeration of the various regions and rivers that define Mesopotamia. East and west are denoted by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, respectively. South is denoted by אירג ומישון (‘the southern lowlands and Mesene’. MS 1927/7.6 reads מישן The variants correspond to the variant readings מישון and מישן in manuscripts of the Babylonian Talmud.
    The term אירג was appropriately identified by Kaufman as ‘the earliest known occurrence of the name “Iraq”, here used in its original sense of southernmost Mesopotamia’. The pairing of the two terms suggests that מישון is probably used here in the narrow sense of the roughly triangular ‘island’ formed by the Euphrates and the two branches of the Tigris that diverged at Apameia, whereas אירג refers to the region below the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates down to the coast. North is denoted by בבל וערב. Kaufman translates ‘Babylon and Arab’. Since the other terms in this enumeration refer to regions, בבל most likely refers to Babylonia rather than the city of Babylon. The place name ערב ‘Arab’ occurs in Syriac documents as ܥܪܒ, where it designates both a relatively small region located west of Edessa in extreme northern Mesopotamia and the entire Sasanian province of North Mesopotamia, Arbāyistān. The latter meaning seems more appropriate in the present context, the expression בבל וערב denoting the whole of central and northern Mesopotamia (the Sasanian provinces of Āsōristān/Ασσυρία and Arbāyistān/Αραβία, respectively), as opposed to אירג ומישון which refers to southern Mesopotamia.
     
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    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    "Arab" refers to Arbāyistān/Bēṯ ʿArbāyē. The paper suggests "Babylonia (Āsōristān) and Arab (Arbāyistān)" refers to northern Mesopotamia, and "Erag and Mesene" refers to southern Mesopotamia, Mesene being the the "island" between the rivers, and Erag starting from the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates down to the coast.

    Here's the explanation from the paper:
    Ok, I still think the evidence here is a bit tenuous, but this document certainly makes it more plausible.
     

    dlenski

    New Member
    English
    Some seriously fantastic scholarship in this thread. :thumbsup:

    I wrote an answer on Quora referencing this thread in regards to the theory of a Middle Persian origin for the name Iraq, and also updated Iraq#Name on Wikipedia to reference the Nippur bowl inscription as evidence for a plausible theory of the name.

    I haven't seen a date (whether precise or approximate) for the Nippur bowl, in the Kaufman paper or elsewhere. Can anyone point to one? I know that Jewish Babylonian Arabic flourished from the 4th-11th centuries CE, and that Kaufman referred to the "Sassanian period" (mid-3rd to mid-7th centuries CE?) but those are both quite broad ranges.
     
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