Persian: How do you remember which letter to use, when there are 4 kinds of z?

Haji Firouz

Member
Romanian
Hi folks!

I have a quick question, this time about letters that sound the same. How do you remember whether a word, for example /zohr/, is written with ظ /zaa/ instead of ذ /zaal/?
In fact, it might as well be written with ض /zaad/ or ز /ze/, because they all sound exactly the same!

Do you have any special tricks? Any little known rules that you might like to share?

I try to make up some silly rules, such as: /tanaab/ (rope) is written with ط /taa/ because ط looks like a loop or curl and I try to visualise a loop made with a rope. Now, I figure this is perhaps not the best way to learn, but I am curious what you think. How do YOU learn? Or how DID you learn?

If it's related (just my presumption) to loan words, how do you recognise they are loan words (like Arabic)?
In other words, how I recognise بامار /bimaar/ is Persian and مربض /mariz/ is an Arabic loan (they both mean "ill")? Can identifying whether it's a loan word or not help me determine which letter to use (or at least narrow my possibilities)?

Some examples below:

the /z/ sound:
/ze/ as in: زبان /zabaan/ (language or tongue)
/zaal/ as in: ذات /zaat/ (nature, as in: human nature)
/zaa/ as in: ظهر /zohr/ (noon)
/zaad/ as in: ضرر /zarar/ (harm, damage)

the /s/ sound:
/sin/ as in: سید /sabad/ (basket)
/saad/ as in: صبر /sabr/ (patience)
/se/ as in: اثاث /asaas/ (furniture)

the /t/ sound:
/te/ as in: راست /raast/ (straight)
/taa/ as in: طناب /tanaab/ (rope)

Thanks for your patience as usual, and thank you very much for any tips, tricks and advice. This is an old concern of mine.

Best regards,
Ana-Maria
 
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  • Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    How do you remember whether a word, for example /zohr/, is written with ظ /zaa/ instead of ذ /zaal/?
    Practice. It's the same way you learn that 'character' is not written as 'carrector'. A more advanced way is by etymology as you noted. For example, I know زبان is originally Persian (Parthian to be precise) so it's mostly likely to be with ز (there are just a few Persian words with ذ, almost all non-Arabic loans are also with ز). On the other hand, ظهر is cognate with ظاهر and اظهار all related to "to appear".
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    As @Treaty has rightly indicated, all this comes with practice.

    I shall try to make this practice a little easier.

    No word containing پ، چ، ژ، گ is Arabic

    All words with ث are Arabic except کیومرث or گیومرث.

    Words containing ذ are almost exclusively Arabic, some exceptions being پذیر، پذیرفتن، گذارش، کاغذ، گذشت، آذر، آذربائیجان

    Words containing ط are almost exclusively Arabic (some of the exceptions being طہماسپ، طوطی، طہران، طلا، طپیدن، غلطیدن، طبرستان، اطاق. These are the older spellings and you will find them written with a ت now.

    All words with ص are Arabic except شصت، اصفہان

    All words with ح، ض، ظ، ع are Arabic.

    Whether to write a word with ذ، ز، ض، ظ comes with knowledge of word origins and experience

    Same goes for ت، ط and ہ، ح and ث، س، ص
     
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    Derakhshan

    Senior Member
    Arabic, Persian
    If it's related (just my presumption) to loan words, how do you recognise they are loan words (like Arabic)?
    In other words, how I recognise بامار /bimaar/ is Persian and مربض /mariz/ is an Arabic loan (they both mean "sick")?
    It helps to learn the Arabic awzaan or verb forms. For example, مريض has the same form as most Arabic adjectives like: کبیر، صغیر، طویل، قصیر، فقیر، بعید، قریب ...

    So that's a clue that it's an Arabic word, and thus may contain the Arabic letters.

    In fact, the only Persian adjective I can think of that has that form is پدید (obvious enough from the پ anyway). There are probably a few more, but an adjective of this form will almost always be Arabic.

    Some common Arabic forms for nouns include

    فاعل : ماهر، باعث، ساكت، غافل، عارف، ظاهر، صاحب

    فَعّال : قصّاب،‌ حمّال، جذّاب، عنّاب

    مفعول : منظور، مطلوب، مقصود، مقبول

    مُفعِل : مشكل، معضل، مجرم، مسلم

    مُفَعَّل : معطّر، مصدّق

    Of course there are more than these, over time it will become easier to recognize these Arabic forms.
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    All words with ص are Arabic except شصت،
    Also صد for “hundred”

    You’ve got very sound advice so far.

    There’s always online dictionaries to refer to as origin of Arabic words like ولی، خیلی etc. is not easy to identify based on their letters.

    It can also be tricky when Persian & Arabic are combined to make one word e.g. چقدر چطور خوشحال plus many others I can’t recall at the moment.
     
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    Derakhshan

    Senior Member
    Arabic, Persian
    That's nuts, I never guessed that it's Arabic. But apparently خيل "group, detachment" is from the Arabic خيل "horses, cavalry". So I guess it got generalized from a group/detachment of horsemen to a group of anything?
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Isn’t the Arabic بلی pronounced balā?
    Indeed it is pronounced in this manner in Arabic.

    In Arabic we have وَ لٰکن wa-laakin which, once upon a time was pronounced in the older Persian language as wa-lekin (where lek لیک rhymes with English "lake"). The "kin" fell off in due course leaving "wale" or "vale" ولے now pronounced as ولی . There is a name for this phenomenon of aa > e but unfortunately it escapes me for the moment. I shall come back when the wiring in my brain is corrected!:) *

    بلٰی balaa must have followed the same path > بلے bale but it then went through another transformation > بله

    Likewise یه عالمه < یک عالمے but here the ے / ی is the yaa of unity.

    PS: Eureka! The word I had in mind is اماله
     
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    I think your problem is how to write the words!!! In my opinion the best way, is to memorize words, As nobody can tell you how to write a word and show you some rules!!! It is impossible!!! If you learn Arabic, so may be!!!! this will help you to understand which word is Arabic roots, nothing more!!! Also in Arabic root there are lot of confusions:

    Followings are some of a drop in a sea of these confusion:

    وردزورث ، بلوتوث ، تهمورث (British poet)

    ، صندلی، صابون، صد، شصت

    ط is the one, better not talk about it!!!

    The only I think is rarely can find Farsi is ض؛ ظ…… الناطقون بالضاد

    If anybody says, we can check with Arabic word structure for example فاعل، فعال

    There is کفاش is based on فعال!!!!

    Yes if we know Arabic, absolutely make it easier to distinguish the words, in reading not writing!!!

    The next problem is Turk and Mongolian words in Farsi, some times confused with both Farsi and Arabic word!!!!
    More reading is the best way!!!
     
    Also صد for “hundred”

    You’ve got very sound advice so far.

    There’s always online dictionaries to refer to as origin of Arabic words like ولی، خیلی etc. is not easy to identify based on their letters.

    It can also be tricky when Persian & Arabic are combined to make one word e.g. چقدر چطور خوشحال plus many others I can’t recall at the moment.
    I think there is a discussion regarding خیلی, as I remember some believe that, there is two words, one is came from Arabic خیل and the other one is Farsi. Moin also says the root is from خیل but mention both ع - فا ....but I am not sure!
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    for example /zohr/, is written with ظ /zaa/ instead of ذ /zaal/?
    In fact, it might as well be written with ض /zaad/ or ز /ze/, because they all sound exactly the same!
    ظهر with ظ = noon, etc.

    If we use ز we get زهر = poison, etc.

    With ذ it becomes ذهر which means according to the dictionary: ذهر. [ ذَ هََ ] (ع مص ) ذهرفوه ؛ سیاه شد دندانهای او. (DKh)

    In Arabic there is ضهر :) with a separate meaning.
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    بلٰی balaa must have followed the same path > بلے bale but it then went through another transformation > بله
    Could the Modern Persian version i.e. بله/balé/bala have been influenced by the proper Arabic pronunciation of balā, rather than by بلی > بله transformation, despite the fact the following is the correct transformation?
    Likewise یه عالمه < یک عالمے but here the ے / ی is the yaa of unity.
     
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    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Could the Modern Persian version i.e. بله/balé/bala have been influenced by the proper Arabic pronunciation of balā, rather than by بلی > بله transformation, despite the fact the following is the correct transformation?
    Is بله in Modern persian pronounced as balé or bala? I suspect it is the former. If so بله< بلے makes sense just as
    عالمه < عالمے. The reason simply is that the pronunciation of عالمے in Classical Persian and that of عالمه in the modern language is pretty much identical.
     
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    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    Is بله in Modern Persian pronounced as balé or bala? I
    It is balé formally, but some regional accents use bala.

    In fact colloquially more often than not it is pronounced as baɛlé/بعله.

    The formal short balé sounds a little odd & unnatural as 'yes', but not so when used, say, by a gown-up as a reaction to children when they say something rude or unexpected, so "balé?" almost means "WHAT did you just say?" or "DID I hear you right?", in this form it is also used as a polite replacement for 'what?'

    It is often used as a replacement for 'of course' or an emphatic yes.
     
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    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    According to Dehkhoda صابون is the Arabized version of سابون which itself is from French savon and is of Indo-European etymology
    Thank you. In that case صابون does not fall in the same category as صد and شصت.
     
    for your information صابون is by mistake wrote in Arabic style with ص and the correct version is سابون the root is ساب and we see سابیدن. the soap , le savon ....etc are coming from Farsi origin as sugar, candy ....etc.
     

    Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    for your information صابون is by mistake wrote in Arabic style with ص and the correct version is سابون the root is ساب and we see سابیدن. the soap , le savon ....etc are coming from Farsi origin as sugar, candy ....etc.
    صابون is originally a Germanic word which after a long journey entered Persian via Arabic (via Greek or Aramaic) sometime in the medieval era. So, it is by ص as in its Arabic version. Both sugar and candy ultimately came from languages in India. There was no sugar outside India until 500BC.
    and صندلی
    From or influenced by Arabic, but originally Indian I guess. ص is probably representing ch in Sanskrit.
    According to Dehkhoda صابون is the Arabized version of سابون which itself is from French savon and is of Indo-European etymology
    I would have been very surprised if he had said about its French origin considering how well-versed he was in Classical Persian where صابون is frequently used. I'm not sure if it is IE though either. It has apparently one cognate outside Germanic (Latin sebum), but both could have also been borrowed from a pre-IE language somewhere in Europe rather than inherited from IE.
     
    صابون is originally a Germanic word which after a long journey entered Persian via Arabic (via Greek or Aramaic) sometime in the medieval era. So, it is by ص as in its Arabic version. Both sugar and candy ultimately came from languages in India. There was no sugar outside India until 500BC.

    From or influenced by Arabic, but originally Indian I guess. ص is probably representing ch in Sanskrit.

    I would have been very surprised if he had said about its French origin considering how well-versed he was in Classical Persian where صابون is frequently used. I'm not sure if it is IE though either. It has apparently one cognate outside Germanic (Latin sebum), but both could have also been borrowed from a pre-IE language somewhere in Europe rather than inherited from IE.
    yes, you may be right! My reference is : SOAP – Encyclopaedia Iranica I am not sure about it, but as I remember, In some western came to east and Iran they show as new item. but I will double check it.
     
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    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    or your information صابون is by mistake wrote in Arabic style with ص and the correct version is سابون the root is ساب and we see سابیدن. the soap , le savon ....etc are coming from Farsi origin as sugar, candy ....etc.
    سابیدن is the colloquial form of ساییدن, the causative of which will be سایاندن and if we assume سایاندن > ساباندن then at best we we will get سابان but all we know of this word is this form: سابون
     
    سابیدن is the colloquial form of ساییدن, the causative of which will be سایاندن and if we assume سایاندن > ساباندن then at best we we will get سابان but all we know of this word is this form: سابون
    Yes I see! there is many gossip and fact as well for the roots of this word. some says the word come from ساب as we می سابیم. But first I think we must clear is that Persian or not! I am not sure about دهخدا to say come from French, I will check it later.
    all start from: ....Can we say some words are Arabic?And is there any clear rules for writing? In my view ص is not only Arabic or ژ is not only Farsi as ژاندارم or ژست. If we say ث can find in Arabic words only, yes it is an English wordبلوتوث , but today is part of Farsi. As Caravan today is part of English as well.
    I like this kind of discussion without west or east!!! and respecting other people views.
     
    Dear Haji Firooz,
    You start a post, and bring a lot of discussion from letters to the words and history of soap!!! and sugar!!! hahahaha!!! thank you!
    In Farsi (slang) there is a proverb says: تیله رو بنداز قمارباز دنبالش میره
    Thank you for starting this discussion!
     
    صابون is originally a Germanic word which after a long journey entered Persian via Arabic (via Greek or Aramaic) sometime in the medieval era. So, it is by ص as in its Arabic version. Both sugar and candy ultimately came from languages in India. There was no sugar outside India until 500BC.
    I think, about both of these words, it is not wrong, we say that, the words is from Farsi ( yes, the root reach to Sanskrit) but these words in Farsi has been changed to what now Europe use it!

    Sugre, from Old French sucre "sugar" (12c.), from Medieval Latin succarum, from Arabic sukkar, from Persian shakar, from Sanskrit sharkara "

    Candy, crystallized sugar," from Old French çucre candi "sugar candy," ultimately from Arabic qandi, from Persian qand "cane sugar," probably from Sanskrit khanda "piece (of sugar)," perhaps from Dravidian (compare Tamil kantu "candy," kattu "to harden, condense").

    I used https://www.etymonline.com/word/ as my reference.

    What do you think?
     
    سابیدن is the colloquial form of ساییدن, the causative of which will be سایاندن and if we assume سایاندن > ساباندن then at best we we will get سابان but all we know of this word is this form: سابون
    Regarding colloquial form of ساییذن, is there any problem to be used as name of something? Is it impossible?
    this remind me the preface of Shamlu on his translation of Quite flows Don, regarding, why we are not consider it as part of our language?
    The root of this word is not clear to say 100% is this or that. For this reason, I said above to Treaty, "May be you are right!" as history of soap is not clear! Britannica says, soap came from Egypt, the other encyclopedia says, it is from Celts!!! .....etc.
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    ^ Thanks for this but as I hope you appreciate there's no more information in the above than we've already discussed.

    Maybe the ancients used a power/paste for washing purposes, produced by rubbing (ساییدن) together minerals which they named سابانده/سابونده (analogous to براده/borâdé, metal filings or ریزه/rizé) and سابون is the contraction of it. Having said that, every colloquial Persian word comes from a formal version but there's no evidence for سابان as the formal for سابون.
     
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    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    صابون is originally a Germanic word which after a long journey entered Persian via Arabic (via Greek or Aramaic) sometime in the medieval era. So, it is by ص as in its Arabic version. Both sugar and candy ultimately came from languages in India. There was no sugar outside India until 500BC.
    That kind of suggests that before arrival of the Germanic word, Persians used 'soap' but had (1) a different name (lost now) or no name for it at all, or (2) had no 'soap' so name & concept arrived together, or (3) maybe the word they did have was sufficiently close to the Germanic word that the two merged over time. The latter seems fairly plausible.
     
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    Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    (2) had no 'soap' so name & concept arrived together
    This one. Soap is a mix of animal fat and lime (or ash) which was apparently unfamiliar outside central/north Europe until Classical times. Please note that the Greek were already in extensive contact with Persians when they were, by their own account, introduced to Germanic/Celtic soap. Iranians seemed to have used other products for cleaning (see the link in #22 for traditional alternatives to soap).
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    Thank you.
    Please note that the Greek were already in extensive contact with Persians when they were, by their own account, introduced to Germanic/Celtic soap.
    Just trying to understand this, so if the name & concept were introduced together to Persia around the time of contact with the Greeks, say 2600 years ago or before, why was the name adopted in medieval era from Arabic, what was the name in the preceding period, the Aramaic version of the Greek name?? That can only be, if the Persian name before contact with Arabs (possibly had 'p' it in too) was close enough to the Arabic version (as they shared the same source) and after the invasion they merged into one another (& spelling with ص makes sense)??

    a Germanic word which after a long journey entered Persian via Arabic (via Greek or Aramaic) sometime in the medieval era.
     
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    From or influenced by Arabic, but originally Indian I guess. ص is probably representing ch in Sanskrit.
    Treaty, I know, you guess, but base of which reference?
    Soap is a mix of animal fat and lime (or ash) which was apparently unfamiliar outside central/north Europe until Classical
    Why you think it was not familiar outside the Europe? I believe that there are some documents regarding Egyptians, they know very well soap in ancient times. I think there are some Hieroglyphs about it.
    Maybe the ancients used a power/paste for washing purposes
    The soap in some records is originally from Ash, Treaty is right as well also mix of animal fats and ash. I remember when I was young, in some of Iran villages, people used ashes of wood and wood charcoal in ball shapes to clean dishes!
     
    ^ Thanks for this but as I hope you appreciate there's no more information in the above than we've already discussed.

    Maybe the ancients used a power/paste for washing purposes, produced by rubbing (ساییدن) together minerals which they named سابانده/سابونده (analogous to براده/borâdé, metal filings or ریزه/rizé) and سابون is the contraction of it. Having said that, every colloquial Persian word comes from a formal version but there's no evidence for سابان as the formal for سابون.
    the point is: ماده مضارع این مصدرها به ترتیب عبارتند از ، ساو، ساب و سای, Have you seen in modern time any imperative form of both ساییدن و سابیدن, based on سای. Do you say بسای or بسایید .....we normally say بساب و بسابید..... and also in combined name, do we say سای?...for example..... کف ساب و سنگ ساب و ......
    For me Dehkhoda is great man, but he is not فصل الختام.
     
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    Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    so if the name & concept were introduced together to Persia around the time of contact with the Greeks, say 2600 years ago or before, why was the name adopted in medieval era from Arabic, what was the name in the preceding period, the Aramaic version of the Greek name?
    You are a few centuries early. "soap" is first found in the Greek texts in around 100BC referring to Celt's use of it in France. It took a few more centuries for it to get mainstream in the Greco-Roman culture as washing substance. The first period of Perso-Greek significant cultural exchange (500BC-100AD) had already been ended by that time. So, not only the origin was not Persian but there wasn't much chance for the Persians borrow it. We needed to wait until the next wave of the Greek influence on Persian which was after Islam via Arabic. Surely, it is not impossible that the word had entered earlier, but we don't usually discuss lack of impossibility but highest probabilities.
    Treaty, I know, you guess, but base of which reference?
    Here: sandal sandalwood (from Middle English, from Anglo-French sandali, from Medieval Latin sandalum, from Late Greek santalon, ultimately from Sanskrit candana, of Dravidian origin; akin to Tamil cāntu sandalwood tree).
    Why you think it was not familiar outside the Europe? I believe that there are some documents regarding Egyptians, they know very well soap in ancient times. I think there are some Hieroglyphs about it.
    I'd refer to this one written by a medical historian who worked on the most famous of those documents, the Ebers Papyrus. These soap-like remedies were limited to curing certain diseases or conditions, not general cleanliness for which the Egyptians commonly used other materials like natron. This is why, even if it was the proper soap, chemically, it was not used as such. Also it explains why there is no trace of it in Greek texts despite their significant cultural borrowings from Egypt.
     

    Derakhshan

    Senior Member
    Arabic, Persian
    It's not just بلی that became بله but also its synonym آره < آری underwent the same process.

    I have a question; بلى in Arabic is only used to answer a negative question, like چرا in Persian. بله in formal Persian answers a positive question. But was this always the case? I ask because in some southern Persian dialects, بله is actually used to answer negative questions, like بلی in Arabic and چرا in Persian (but it also has the normal "formal yes" meaning as well).
     
    Here: sandal sandalwood (from Middle English, from Anglo-French sandali, from Medieval Latin sandalum,
    Thanks, but I think these are two different words and two different roots, I mean Sandal and Sandali ....anyhow thanks for providing the reference.
    I'd refer to this one written by a medical historian who worked on the most famous of those documents,
    Most of writers refer To the Ebers sheets, for soap (not what we use it today or hundred years later) and its basic formula. I got some pages with translation but couldn't find all of them especially (sheet 708 . again thank you for your time and suggestion.
     
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    I suggest, (to enable others to find more information as its looks, most are professional or some like me with poor knowledge but want professionally trace the etymology of words, Please with any suggestion give relative reference. I think, This will be very helpful!!!
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    You are a few centuries early.
    I am only going by what you said earlier:
    Please note that the Greek were already in extensive contact with Persians when they were, by their own account, introduced to Germanic/Celtic soap.
    The dates/eras have somewhat changed between your posts.

    Let's leave the etymology of the word aside and perhaps look at the concept of a cleaning/cleansing substance, & maybe also look at some inconsistencies in the history of this substance in Persia.

    it is not impossible that the word had entered earlier, but we don't usually discuss lack of impossibility but highest probabilities.
    Now talking about possibilities and probabilities, we can be confident Persians had a substance for cleaning/cleansing, OK it may or may not have been based on "fat & ash" but whatever it was made of, must have had a local name (maybe several different names) which was used until the new one was introduced by Arabs but we don't know it. There are uncomplimentary accounts of Greeks describing Persians as being leisure-loving and effeminate and this observation must have also been based on their personal hygiene, which without a cleaning/cleansing substance would have been improbable to achieve..

    It is also very probable that there was contact with the Greeks post 100 BC, after all they were still neighbours of the Persians, before and after the Roman conquest of those regions.
     
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    Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    The dates/eras have somewhat changed between your posts.
    I'm totally lost here. The dates match what I have said. Please read my post again (did you mistake 100AD for 100BC?).
    we can be confident Persians had a substance for cleaning/cleansing,
    I don't see the relevance of this. We can also be confident that ancient Persians had means of relatively fast transport. But this doesn't suggest they had cars or a forgotten word for them. People didn't need soap to be nice and clean in the first place. There are tens of non-soap recipes for that, which we have evidence for within the broader region. We still use some of them in Iran. So, there is no reason to assume they used soap or had a word for it.
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    We can also be confident that ancient Persians had means of relatively fast transport. But this doesn't suggest they had cars or a forgotten word for them.
    "sarcasm is ........."

    Is it possible that I misread the underlined below?
    This one. Soap is a mix of animal fat and lime (or ash) which was apparently unfamiliar outside central/north Europe until Classical times. Please note that the Greek were already in extensive contact with Persians when they were, by their own account, introduced to Germanic/Celtic soap.
    So what are you saying here please, that there was ample opportunity for Persian to pick up the name and technique of making soap from the Greek in this Period? OR that despite this extensive contact with Persians, the name & techniques of making soap was not transferred to Persians? Which is it please?
     

    Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    There is difference between when they were introduced to Germanic/Celtic soap and when it took a few more centuries for it to get mainstream in the Greco-Roman culture (#35). Logically, a word is less likely to be borrowed when it (or its referred concept) is still not common in the source language (or culture). In my opinion, this was the case for the 100BC date. The foreign word sapon- in that Greek document was not Greek yet and was possibly unknown to a shear majority of the Greek. In other words, there was no Greek word to be borrowed regardless of the degree of contact with Persians. When it apparently became a part of the Greco-Roman lingo-culture (c. 200AD) there had already been a great animosity between them and Iranians not only in geopolitics but also in religion and culture (in which sanitation would matter). This is why I assumed the chance of "soap" being borrowed in linguistic scale by Persians was slim in the latter era.
     
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    eskandar

    Moderator
    English (US)
    I think there is a discussion regarding خیلی, as I remember some believe that, there is two words, one is came from Arabic خیل and the other one is Farsi. Moin also says the root is from خیل but mention both ع - فا ....but I am not sure!
    The reason Moin mentions both فا (Persian) and ع (Arabic) is that it is formed through mixing the Arabic word خیل with the Persian suffix ی .
     
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