Persian: laal/la3l

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Wolverine9, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    In Persian, la3l or laal means "ruby" or "red". The meaning "ruby" is also present in the Arabic la3l. Is this word ultimately of Persian origin or Arabic?
  2. Treaty Senior Member

    Between Arabic and Persian, I put money on the latter. Because in Persian there are other similar words for red and ruby: aal آل and nal نال. Besides, laaleh لاله (tulip, normally red) was used by Roudaki (9th century poet) who normally didn't use many Arabic words.
  3. rayloom

    rayloom Senior Member

    Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    In Arabic I've only come across the word in games of cards, where already all suits have foreign names in Arabic, and Hearts are called Laal. I'm not aware of its use to mean 'red' (or 'ruby') in the general sense in Arabic.
    I'd say it's a relatively recent borrowing from Persian, since it also doesn't appear in any of the Classical dictionaries.
  4. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    laal in Urdu and Hindi also means red. In Urdu surx (Persian) is used more often than not but any Urdu speaker would understand "laal".
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
  5. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    I wonder why laal is more common in Hindi than in Urdu. I'm guessing the reason is probably similar to that of saugand, which we discussed a few months ago.

    By the way, is it generally laal when referring to the color "red" but la3l when referring to "ruby"? If so, that is peculiar.
  6. rayloom

    rayloom Senior Member

    Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but apparently لال (with this orthograph) meaning "red" doesn't occur in Persian!
    Perhaps you're referring to Urdu لال meaning "red", and of the same Indo-Aryan origin.

    The fact that there is a 3ayn in Persian la3l is quite interesting though. It could be a hypercorrection at some point (linking it to Arabic)!
    Unfortunately I don't have any etymological sources on Farsi.
  7. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    laʽl “ruby” does occur in classical Arabic texts, especially in texts about mineralogy, but it is rare. (You can find half a column of references in the Wörterbuch der klassichen arabischen Sprache). It occurs fairly commonly in classical Persian, where it is written always (I think) in the Arabic manner with ع , but it does not seem to occur in any of the older Iranian languages. It does not have a plausible etymology either in Semitic or Indo-Iranian, but the prima facie evidence is that it was borrowed from Arabic to Persian, and not the other way round. lāl “red” is an Urdu form of the Persian word.

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