Friday, June 24, 2011

About blacksmiths, swords and iron (Part III)

Today, I will explain the origin of the words: Latin ferrum and English brass.

It would seem that the inventors of iron-casting were the Hattis in Central Anatolia. In Hatti and Hurrian iron is called habalgi. This word is the locative of a place called Balgi: ha- ‘in’ and Balgi in Hatti. Hurrian is a direct borrowing of Hatti. The place name is attested as URU Hawalgina and URU Hawargina (not on the map above). Note that this place name has either l or r.

Another set of words for ‘iron’ is based on *barz-:

- Kartvelian Svan berež ‘iron’

- Semitic with b: Ugaritic brdl, Phoenician brzl, Arabic firzil ‘iron’

- Semitic with p: Akkadian parzillu, Aramean przl, Epigraphic South Arabic frzn, Arabic firzil ‘iron’

This root *barz is the origin of Latin and English. It can be noted that Phoenician was probably borrowed in Berber: Tachelhit wuzzal, etc.

Apparently habalgi and *barz, *barzil cannot be connected but it must be first noted that the suffix –illu of barzillu is Luwian. Next this language has a sound change ğ > z, so that the unprefixed form balg, barg can be compared with barz. Luwian is the intermediary language which changed Hatti (ha)balgi, (ha)bargi into barz and passed it on to Semitic languages and then western mediterranean countries.

Best. A.

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