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۱۳۹۰ اسفند ۸, دوشنبه

On the origin of the word ešq

The Modern Persian word ešq (عشق) meaning "love", classical Persian išq, is of utmost importance in the Persian literature and gnosis (erfān عرفان). This paper puts forward the idea that ešq, used in Persian and Arabic ('išq), may have an Indo-European origin. This proposal is mainly based on etymological studies.
The author thinks that ešq may be related to Avestan iš- "to wish, desire, search", aēša- "desire, search", išaiti "he wishes", išt "wished for, beloved", išti- "aspiration, aim", and suggests that it derives from *iška- or something like that. See below for more about the suffix -ka.
Avestan iš- is cognate with Sanskrit eṣ- "to wish, strive for, seek", icchā- "wish, desire", icchati "seeks for, wishes", iṣta- "beloved, sought", iṣti- "search, desire", Pali icchaka- "wishing, desirous". Note also that this word exists in Middle Persian in the form of išt "desire", as attested by Farahvaši.
The Avestan and Sanskrit words come from the Proto-Indo-European base *ais- "to wish, desire", *aisskā- "desire, search", which have several offshoots in other Indo-European languages: Old Church Slavic isko, išto "to seek, desire"; iska "wish"; Russian iskat' "to seek"; Lithuanian ieškau "to seek"; Latvian iēskât "to search for lice"; Armenian aic' "inspection, probe"; Latin aeruscare "to beg; go begging; get money traveling and practicing juggling"; Old High German eiscon "to desire"; Old English ascian "to ask"; English ask.
In contrast, the origin mentioned by traditional Persian lexicographers for ešq is the Arabic 'išq (عشق), from 'ašaq (عَشَق) "to stick, to cleave to". The latter is itself derived from 'ašaqa (عَشَقَه) the plant commonly called lablâb (لَبلاب) ("a kind of ivy"), because it twines upon trees, and cleaves to them (Zamaxšari, Tâj al-'arus).
It is interesting to note that ešq lacks a Hebrew counterpart; the Hebrew term for love is ahav, which is akin to Arabic habba (حَبَّ). Another Hebrew term used in the Old Testament is xašaq "to desire; to attach; delight, pleasure" (for example, Deu 10:15, 21:11; 1 Ki 9:19; Exo 27:17, 38:17; Gen 34:8). According to Prof. Scott B. Noegel, the Hebrew xašaq and Arabic 'ašaq are etymologically unrelated. The Hebrew x (heth) can equate either with an Arabic h (ḥā') or x (xā') and the Hebrew 'ayn can equate either with an Arabic 'ayn or qayn, but they do not mix. Also, typically the Hebrew š (shin) is reflected by an Arabic s (sin), and vise versa. As for the meanings, the similarity is a coincidence. Also, they are not ultimately of the same meaning. Hebrew x-š-q probably meant "to bind" or "press together", as does its Aramaic equivalent. Similarly, Prof. Werner Arnold underlines that Hebrew x in word initial positions is always an Arabic h (ḥā') and never 'ayn. 
Note also that ešq ('išq) does not appear in the Koran, which instead uses the aforementioned verb habba (حَبَّ) and its derivatives, for example the noun hubb (حُبّ). Moreover, in Modern Arabic the relevant terms dominantly used are: habba and its derived forms hubb, habib, mahbub, etc. 
Ferdowsi's clue 
It is well-known that Ferdowsi avoided using Arabic words in order to defend and promote Persian. Notwithstanding, he used ešq even if he had the possibility to refrain from it since poetry allows great latitude. The question is, why did not Ferdowsi use the usual word for "love" in Arabic, which is hubb, or another Persian word instead but preferred ešq? The author tends to believe that in spite of the fact that he did not have our today's philological knowledge as to the etymology of Persian and Indo-European words, he was probably aware that ešq was of Iranian/Persian origin. 
It would be interesting to know how Ferdowsi himself wrote ešq, maybe without the Arabic phoneme 'ayn (ع), like this: اشق or ! اِشک However, verifying this point is not straightforward, since the oldest extant manuscript of Šâh-nâme is written about two centuries after Ferdowsi. More specifically, it is dated 30 Muharram 614 Hijri, corresponding to Monday 15 May 1217 in the Gregorian calendar and Došanbe 25 Ordibehešt 596 in the Iranian solar calendar (Florence National Library). 
In brief, we propose the following derivation path for ešq:  Proto-Inodo-European *ais- "to wish, desire, seek", *aisska- "desire, search" → Avestan iš- and → *iška- "desire, wish".
The suffix -ka- is common in Avestan and appears in many words, for example: mahrka- "death"; araska- "envy"; aδka- "garment, robe"; huška- "dry"; pasuka- "cattle, beast"; drafška-, drafša- "banner"; dahaka- "stinging(?)", Dahāka- a tyrant figure in Persian mythology (with aži-), and so on.
The Avestan term would have given rise to Middle Persian *išk. Two possibilities can be envisaged for the transfer of the Middle Persian word into Arabic. The first one is that it was transmitted into Arabic during the Sasanid era, when Persians dominated the Arabian Peninsula (see âzarnuš's book which deals with the ways Persian words could have penetrated into Arabic during Pre-Islamic times). The transformation of the Persian phoneme k into Arabic q is common, as in the following examples: kandak → xandaq, zandik → zandiq, kafiz → qafiz, kušk → jawsaq, k�sah → qaS'ah ( قصعَه); see the Persian version for references.
Interestingly, in the last example, qaS'ah ( قصعَه), not only the k phoneme has changed into a q (ق), two typical Semitic sounds have, in addition, appeared: Sâd (ص) and 'ayn (ع). Another example of the occurrence of 'ayn in loanwords is the name of the Iranian island and city âbâdan (آبادان), whose Arabic form is 'abbâdân (عبّادان). We note that the original form of this name was Apphana, as attested by Ptolemy, the famous second-century astronomer and geographer, who applies it to an island off the mouth of the Tigris. Similarly, the fourth-century geographer Marcian calls it Apphadana. According to the late scholar B. Farahvashi, this name comes from the Old Persian āppā-, from āp- "water" and pā- "to guard, to watch," literally meaning "coastguard station". The last example of the appearance of an 'ayn in Arabic loanwords is qurquma'n� (قرقومعنا) or qurquma'm� (قرقومعما ) "dregs of saffron oil". This is a loan from the Greek krokomagma, from krokos "saffron, crocus" and magma "ointment, dregs". Krokomagma was a drug used in Greek medicine, as attested in, for example, Galen's works.  
Arabic often creates other typical Semitic sounds in loanwords. Briefly, here are some examples of conversion into ghayn (غ) and tayn (ط), which do not exist in the source languages. Loans from Greek: f.i. th.a.ghayn.v.r.th (فیثاغورث): Pythagoras; q.a.tay.i.ghayn.v.r.i.a (قاطیغوریا): kategoria; a.r.ghayn.n.v.n (ارغنون): organon; m.ghayn.n.a.tayn.i.s. (مغناطیس): magnesia-lithos; a.s.tayn.r.l.a.b (اسطرلاب): astrolabos; a.r.s.tayn.v, a.r.s.tayn.a.tayn.a.l.s (ارسطو، ارسطاطالیس): Aristoteles; tayn.a.l.s (طالس): Thales. Loans from Persian: tayn.a.s (طاس): tašt (this word is the origin of French tasse and German Tasse); tayn.s.v.j (طسّوج): tas�y; tayn.s.q (طسق): tašk; tayn.b.q (طَبَق): tab�k. From French in Modern Arabic: ghayn.a.z (غاز): gaz ("a state of matter", like solid, liquid). 
Let us go back to the way ešq in its "love" sense was introduced into Arabic. Alternatively, the transfer may have happened at the beginning of the Islamic period through scholars and lexicographers of Persian origin. Since they lacked the necessary knowledge about the possible Iranian origin of ešq, they would have confused it with the Arabic 'ašaq (عَشَق) "to stick". Generally speaking, traditional lexicographers have often mentioned Arabic origins for Persian words mainly owing to their ignorance of Persian roots and sometimes owing to Arabicization attempts.
The author is grateful to Dr. Scott B. Noegel, Professor of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Chair, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, University of Washington, for replying to his questions about the etymology of xašaq. The author is also indebted to Dr. Werner Arnold, Professor of Semitic studies, Department for Languages and Cultures of the Near East, University of Heidelberg, for helpful discussions and comments. The author also would like to thank Dr. Jalil Doostkhah, Professor of Avestan studies, for his remarks on a preliminary version of this note.

Source: http://aramis.obspm.fr/~heydari

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