Persian-Kurdish: gurga (wolf)

origumi

Senior Member
Hebrew
Hi

Speakers of Jewish Neo-Aramaic sometimes use the word "gurga" for wolf. These people lived among Kurds for centuries and therefore it seems as a direct borrowing from Kurdish.

* Am I correct that gurga = wolf in Kurdish?
* Is this word (or similar) used in Persian or other Iranian languages?

Thanks.
 
  • Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Origumi, I don’t know any Kurdish but as far as I know they call it گورگ goorg. So gorga / goorga might be from a dialect of Kurdish. It is indeed originally from Persian, as Panjabigator mentions above:

    گُرگ gurg / gorg = wolf – in Persian.

    Comes from Pahlavi where it is the same - gurg! You can search wolf here.

    We also use گرگ in Urdu poetry and high prose.

    Although it is used in Urdu, an Indic language, apparently it isn’t in Pashto, a member of the Persian language family. See here.


    But Baluchi, another Persian family member has the cognate, gwrk:

    gwrk N = wolf


    Or gurkh

    gurkh = wolf. P. gurg.

    Avestan has a completely different word (vehrkha) and I couldn’t find the Old Persian equivalent.

    Pahlavi is the furthest back I can go so far for گُرگ gurg.
     

    origumi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Thanks panjabigator. Thanks Faylasoof for the detailed answer.

    I still do not see the full picture - the Persian word is similar yet different, same for other neighboring languages. My guess is that the word is old (like wolves in the Semitic family for example) and the cognates in various languages evolved during the history, thus "gurga" is likely to be native Kurdish (vs. late borrowing from Persian) or a Neo Aramaic adaptation of the Kurdish word.
     

    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    ...
    I still do not see the full picture - the Persian word is similar yet different, same for other neighboring languages. My guess is that the word is old (like wolves in the Semitic family for example) and the cognates in various languages evolved during the history, thus "gurga" is likely to be native Kurdish (vs. late borrowing from Persian) or a Neo Aramaic adaptation of the Kurdish word.

    Why is this a problem? Isn't Persian kown to be the oldest member of this group? So one would imagine it would be more likely to be a donor of this word to others in the group.

    Yes, it is old! It is fouind in Pahlavi! We have a problem in determining this - see below. More below on this too!

    OK! The Old Persian word I found now is: varka (= wolf) – in another place I found varkana. The former is very similar to the Avestan vehrkha and the Sanskrit sAlAvRka and esp. vRka.

    The Pahlavi gurg is obviously unrelated and therefore the question is where did gurg come from? I could find anything for Parthian and although one cannot rule out Kurdish as the source, the poor history of written Kurdish means we have nothing reliable to go on beyond the 13th CE. This is very late. Pahlavi on the other hand has an old history and a much older written record where the word gurg is attested. My guess is that it is a Pahlavi to Kurdish borrowing rather than the other way.

    The morphology of the Neo-Aramaic gurga / gurgaa may be explained as follows:

    According to this (and a number of other sites that teach Assyrian / Neo-Aramaic), the Assyrian/ Neo-Aramiac word for wolf is de'aavaa or deevaa–dialectical differences (?)

    Now this resource reveals that most Neo-Aramaic nouns end in either the suffixes –ta or -a (= -aa). They follow the bisyllabic morphological patterns shown:

    CaCCa / CiCCa / CeCCa / CuCCa.

    Words borrowed from other languages underwent Neo-Aramaic adaptation. The word gurga (=gurgaa) falls in the last category.

    In other words the speakers of Jewish Neo-Aramaic you mention above might be following the practice of putting this suffix (-a / -aa) to the Pahlavi word gurg -> gurga / gurgaa.

    In fact, on page 137 this same book mentions gurga (= gurgaa – the last vowel is supposed to be long, I believe). On page 569 it also seems to suggest that gurga is from Kurdish. Now Kurdish has a number of dialects which may show variations of pronunciations of even common words like that for wolf. So I wonder if this “Kurdish” gurga / gurgaa is from one of the dialects that had Neo-Aramaic influence.

    So in the end it might be like this: Pahlavi gurg -> Kurdish gurg / goorg -> Neo-Aramaic gurga / gurgaa - this in turn may have gone back to one of the Kurdish dialects.

     

    origumi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Thanks for the comprehensive investigation!

    So my understanding is that there are two roots for wolf in the various languages:

    * gorg / gurg / gurga / gwrk / gurkh etc.
    * verg / werg / vek / varka / vehrkha / (sala)vrka etc.

    And there's strong similarity for this word between Middle persian (Palhavi) and Kurdish, which may indicate either borrowing or common ancestry. Also, talking about "Kurdish" is too general, the various dialects may differ.

    The other Neo-Aramaic word for wolf, deevaa, is clearly Semitic.
     

    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Thanks for the comprehensive investigation!

    So my understanding is that there are two roots for wolf in the various languages:

    * gorg / gurg / gurga / gwrk / gurkh etc.
    * verg / werg / vek / varka / vehrkha / (sala)vrka etc.

    And there's strong similarity for this word between Middle persian (Palhavi) and Kurdish, which may indicate either borrowing or common ancestry. Also, talking about "Kurdish" is too general, the various dialects may differ.

    The other Neo-Aramaic word for wolf, deevaa, is clearly Semitic.

    Yes! It seems that in the Indo-Iranian languages there are at least two roots - we haven't talked about other languages of this group like Hindi-Urdu which uses a completly different name for wolf, and it is best to leave that for another time.

    The problem is that virtually nothing of significance might exist for written Kurdish prior to the ~13th century CE. So it could be common origin or borrowing from the older language.

    There are a number of Kurdish dialects so one will need to look further into them to figure out if they all use the same word or that one of the two roots. In fact, this very reliable site suggests that Kurdish (in Iran) has varg (
    ، کردی ورگ ۞ ) for wolf ; which it shares with Mazandarani and Kashani!
     

    seigan

    New Member
    Swedish

    In fact, this very reliable site suggests that Kurdish (in Iran) has varg ( ، کردی ورگ ) for wolf ; which it shares with Mazandarani and Kashani!

    That very interesting! Swedish,that is a north germanic language of the Indo-European root, uses the word "Varg" for wolf. The original word is "Ulv/Ulf" that is very closely related to the english word wolf and the german word wulf wich is also related to the slavic volk, vlk, wilk, vilk, vuk, vjuk. But as it was belived in the old days in Sweden (and the rest of the nordic countries) that if you called something by its real name you would get it's attention and summon it people tended to use other words such as "raver", "grey-legs" and "varg" when they talked about the wolf.

    The old Norse (the language modern day norweigan, danish, swedish, icelandic and farorean comes from) word "vargr" comes from the proto-germanic *wargaz who meant strangler and in particular refers to the gigantic "demon wolf" (son of the dubious god Loke) Fenrir and his sons Sköll and Hati (Hate) in Norse mythology (a trio you did not want to get the attention of for sure). The word "varg" have now a days totally lost it's original meaning in Swedish and are now only referring to the animal wolf but around 1000 AD it first and formost meant "strangler", "raver", "tearer", "murder", "rapist", "bandit", "evildoer", "criminal", "outcast", "Stranger" (yea they weren't very welcoming of strangers were they back in the days it seems :)) and only second as as synonym for a wolf. The word "Varg" is related to the modern German word "würgen" that means strangler and the the Old English word Warg meaning "large bear" (bear was also called bee-wolfs because they tear bee-havens apart).

    So even of gorg / gurg / gurga / gwrk / gurkh and Ulv / Ulf / Wulf / Wolf do not seem very similar so do the Indo-European languages seem to have two roots too - same as in the Indo-Iranian languages. If I look at meaning of the word Sanskrit word "vRka" in one of the links above I see the first translation is "the tearer" and the second "wolf" - pretty similar to the word "Varg". And when I saw that "gorg" also could mean a rouge or a bandit it seemd to much of a conisidence. As the "Indo-European theory" suggests that the Indo-Europeans wandered from central Asia and Hindu-Kush, on both sides of the caspian and the black sea, in to europe the words (sala)vrka / vehrkha / varka / vek / werg / verg / varg just might (if we let the imagination free) have the same ancient root.

    Just a thought...
     
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    Phosphorus

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    "Gurg" in Kurdish is certainly a Persian loanword. Since the development of original Iranian "w" into "g" is a characteristic of Persian language.

    Original Kurdish for "wolf" is "wir" (itself a cognate of "gurg"), which is only attested in a combination: "wirrew" (a group of wolves). Both Kurdish "wir" and Persian "gorg" are cognates of Avestan "vahrka" as well as English "wolf". In other Northwestern Iranian languages "varg" or "warg" are attested. Also compare to Ossetic "birah" (<? wira < ? werka ).

    Surprisingly Swedish "varg" does not share similar root with its Iranian counterparts-only plain outward resemblance.

    Neo-Aramaic "goorga" is surly a Kurdish borrowing.
     

    john welch

    Senior Member
    English-Australian creole
    PIE * w > Armenian w/g. Possibly the root is :
    Pokorny 2154 ver3D -g 'to turn'
    2155 ver3E -g^h 'to turn, press, strangle'
    2156 ver3F -k 'to turn, wind, bend'
    Greek "gorgon" meaning "dreadful" has unknown origin, and the Persian wolf was created by the evil deity Ahriman. In India, wolves have killed many people. Is it possible to connect "wolf" and "gorgon, Medusa horror"?
     

    Phosphorus

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    Greek "gorgon" meaning "dreadful" has unknown origin, and the Persian wolf was created by the evil deity Ahriman. In India, wolves have killed many people. Is it possible to connect "wolf" and "gorgon, Medusa horror"?

    The apparent similarity between Greek "gorgon" and Persian "gorg" (Mid. Persian and Parthian "gurg") is etymologically acceptable only once we could confirm "gorgon" shows up in the Greek lexicon after, at least, the Parthian era-since before this period the respective development of ancient "w" and "-k" to "g" and "-g" (as is the case with ancient "vahrka" and Middle Iranian "gurg") is, to my knowledge, not attested in the Iranian languages.
     

    Wolverine9

    Senior Member
    American English
    I believe the Greek gorgos "dreadful, terrible" first appears in Homer, which would predate any Iranian connection. Moreover, if gorgos were an Iranian loan, we would expect it to be connected to wolves or wolf-like beings in Greek as well; however, despite being horrific, Medusa had no relationship to wolves, implied or otherwise.

    As an aside, the concept of the gorgon is quite ancient. It is found in motifs of the pre-IE cultures of the region, including possibly the Minoan culture. Therefore, in addition to the concept itself, the word gorgon may ultimately originate from such a culture.
     
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    Palisto

    New Member
    Kurdish
    "Gurg" in Kurdish is certainly a Persian loanword. Since the development of original Iranian "w" into "g" is a characteristic of Persian language.

    Original Kurdish for "wolf" is "wir" (itself a cognate of "gurg"), which is only attested in a combination: "wirrew" (a group of wolves). Both Kurdish "wir" and Persian "gorg" are cognates of Avestan "vahrka" as well as English "wolf". In other Northwestern Iranian languages "varg" or "warg" are attested. Also compare to Ossetic "birah" (<? wira < ? werka ).

    Surprisingly Swedish "varg" does not share similar root with its Iranian counterparts-only plain outward resemblance.

    Neo-Aramaic "goorga" is surly a Kurdish borrowing.

    PIE
    *wilkwis

    Hittite
    wetnas; ulippana-
    Luwian ulipnis, walipna (?)

    Tocharian B
    walkwe

    Albanian
    ujk; ulk

    Greek
    lukos

    Saka (Khotanese)
    birgä
    Saka (Tumshuqese) birgä
    Avesta vehrk(a)
    Old Persian varka-
    Middle Persian gurg
    Persian gorg
    Zazaki verg
    Kurdish gur/gurg
    Mazandarani varg
    Balochi gurx
    Yaghnobi urk
    Yidgha wury
    Ishkashimi urk
    Shughni (w)urj
    Rushani urk
    Yazgulami warg
    Iron (Ossetic) birægh

    Classical Sanskrit
    vrikah

    Old Church Slavonic
    vlîkê
    Slovenian volk
    Serbo-Croatian vuk
    Russian volk
    Byelorussian воўк ("vowk")
    Slovak/Czech vlk
    Polish wilk
    Sorbian wjelk


    Old Prussian
    wilkis ("vilkis")
    Latvian vilks
    Lithuanian vílkas

    Old Norse
    ulfr; vargr
    Icelandic St úlfur
    Swedish varg, ulf
    Danish ulv
    Old English wolf
    Dutch wolf
    Old High German wolf
    Gothic wulfs

    Italian lupus

    Breton St
    bleiz
    Welsh C blaidd
    Old Irishfáel
     

    Delvo

    Senior Member
    American English
    Google Translate gives me ਬਘਿਆੜ "bagʰiāɽa" for "wolf" in Punjabi. Is this related to the g-r-g pattern? If so, it would need to have either turned the first consonant into a /b/ and reversed the order of the other two, or added a syllable at the beginning and dropped the final /g/.

    Also, I get "bʰēɽiyā" for "wolf" in Urdu (بھیڑیا) and Hindi (भेड़िया), which certainly doesn't appear to be related to "grg" but does resemble the Punjabi word, minus a syllable in the middle. So if they're related, then a syllable would need to have been lost or inserted in the middle with very little effect on the parts before & after.

    Are the Punjabi word's similarities to these others just coincidental? Is it actually related to one of these and not the other? Could Punjabi have mixed elements of two unrelated words with similar meanings, like English "twist+whirl=twirl"?
     

    Wolverine9

    Senior Member
    American English
    Google Translate gives me ਬਘਿਆੜ "bagʰiāɽa" for "wolf" in Punjabi. Is this related to the g-r-g pattern? If so, it would need to have either turned the first consonant into a /b/ and reversed the order of the other two, or added a syllable at the beginning and dropped the final /g/.

    Also, I get "bʰēɽiyā" for "wolf" in Urdu (بھیڑیا) and Hindi (भेड़िया), which certainly doesn't appear to be related to "grg" but does resemble the Punjabi word, minus a syllable in the middle. So if they're related, then a syllable would need to have been lost or inserted in the middle with very little effect on the parts before & after.

    Are the Punjabi word's similarities to these others just coincidental? Is it actually related to one of these and not the other? Could Punjabi have mixed elements of two unrelated words with similar meanings, like English "twist+whirl=twirl"?

    The Punjabi word is related to Hindi bagheraa "panther, hyena" and not connected to bheRiyaa or to Persian gurg .
     

    Machlii5

    Senior Member
    German
    [SIZE=3 said:
    Also, I get "b[/SIZE]ʰēɽiyā" for "wolf" in Urdu (بھیڑیا) and Hindi (भेड़िया), which certainly doesn't appear to be related to "grg" but does resemble the Punjabi word, minus a syllable in the middle. So if they're related, then a syllable would need to have been lost or inserted in the middle with very little effect on the parts before & after.
    Actually we are reading a short story on wolves with the title भेड़िया , and our tutor explained that this word was derived from
    भेड़ - sheep (the logical connection being “भेड़िया likes to eat भेड़“) in order to avoid the real name cf. post 8 by seigan
     

    watzinaneihm

    New Member
    malayalam
    Oddly the Malayalam word for fox is Kurukkan. It sounds very much like Gurgan. The word for fox is "chennaya" which is "Red dog". Since Malayalam is not Indo-European, this must be a persian loan word, though I can't find a path. Arabic does not have a similar word and Malayalam is more influenced by Arabic than Persian.
     

    watzinaneihm

    New Member
    malayalam
    I have heard Jackal being called kurunari which matches Tamil nari for jackal/ fox. Kurukkan might be a variation on Sanskrit varka with the standard Malayalam word ending -n . Like kanha (Krishna) became kannan or Rama becomes Raman in Malayalam. If not I suspect the word came in from Mysore empire which spoke Urdu.
    Btw , I just found fox is kurka in tulu which is another eastern Dravidian language closer to tipus kingdom.
     
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