## Bora

Last Thursday, during LREC 2016, 16 participants from ELRA and LDC had a festive dinner at a restaurant named Na Burji. On the drive from Portorož, we had a discussion about what the restaurant's name means — our first guess, stimulated by the extreme switchbacks we traversed as the road climbed steeply from the coastal plain towards Nova Vas nad Dragonjo, was that "burji" is somehow cognate with berg.

But as the restaurant's website explains, it "earned its name due to exposure to famous Bora wind". This of course raises the question of where the word bora comes from.

The OED's entry for bora (which hasn't been updated since 1887) glosses it as "A severe north wind which blows in the Upper Adriatic", and gives this etymology:

According to Diez, Venetian, Milanese form of Italian borea north wind < Latin Boreas. But compare Illyrian (Serbia, Dalmatia, etc.) bura ‘storm, tempest’ (Bulgarian bura, Russian and Old Slavonic burya), which may have been confounded with the Italian in the Adriatic.

The Bora (Bulgarian: бора, Russian: бора, Croatian: bura, Montenegrin: bura/бура, Greek: μπόρα, Italian: bora, Slovene: burja, Turkish: bora, Polish: bora) is a northern to north-eastern katabatic wind in the Adriatic, Croatia, Montenegro, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia, Poland, Russia (Novorossiysk) and Turkey. The same root is found in the name of the Greek mythological figure of Boreas/Βορέας, the North Wind. Historical linguists speculate that the name may derive from a Proto-Indo-European root *gworh- meaning "mountain" and giving rise to Germanic burg and berg. A similar pattern is seen in the cognate name of the buran winds of central Asia and the name purga of their Siberian subtype.

The earliest citation in the OED's 1887 entry is from 1864:

1864   Viscountess Strangford E. Shores Adriatic 263   A violent wind began to blow. ‘The Bora! the Bora!’ resounded on all sides, in tones of terror and dismay.
1883   Athenæum 6 Jan. 11/1   Capt. Burton left Trieste..too happy to exchange its ferocious bora and distressing scirocco for the..West African coast.

But these days, it's easy to antedate such citations, and the results are often interesting in their own right, especially with a bit more context than a dictionary citation allows.

The Helm Wind is a most interesting and remarkable phenomenon, and it has called forth curiosity, and raised inquiry in the most careless observer, and many have been the conjectures as to its nature and cause. Dr. Barnes says,—" The air or wind from the east ascends the gradual slope of the western side of the Penine Chain* or Cross Fell range of mountains, to the summit of Cross Fell, where it enters the helm or cap, and is cooled to a low temperature; it then rushes forcibly down the abrupt declivity of the western side of the mountain, into the valley beneath, in consequence of the valley being of a warmer temperature, and this constitutes the Helm Wind.  […]

The places most subject to it are Milburn, Kirkland, Ousby, Melmerby, and Cramblesby. Sometimes when the atmosphere is quite settled, hardly a cloud to be seen, and not a breath of wind stirring, a small cloud appears on the summit, and extends itself to the north and south; the helm is then, said to be on, and in a few minutes the wind is blowing so violently as to break down trees, overthrow stacks, occasionally blow a person from his horse, or overturn a horse and cart. […] When heard or felt for the first time it does not seem so very extraordinary, but when heard and felt for days together, it gives a strong impression of sublimity. Its sound is peculiar, and when once known is easily distinguished from that of ordinary winds; it cannot be heard more than three or four miles, but in the wind or near it, it has been compared to the noise made by the sea in a violent storm.

Its effect on the spirits is exhilarating, and it gives a buoyancy to the body. The country subject to it is very healthy, but it does great injury to vegetation, by beating grain, grass, and leaves of trees, till quite black.

A similar phenomenon occurs at the Cape of Good Hope; Professor Stavely had noticed one of the same kind near Belfast; and Professor Buche, when crossing the Alps, observed the like appearance on Mount Cenis, and one, called the Bora wind, occurs on the high ground near Trieste.

I like this: "…when heard and felt for days together, it gives a strong impression of sublimity … Its effect on the spirits is exhilarating, and it gives a buoyancy to the body".

And Google Books will take us back a few more decades, to F.W. Sieber, "Travels in the Island of Crete in the year 1817", in Sir Richard Phillips, New Voyages and Travels: Consisting of Originals and Translations, Volume 8, 1822.

Before we get to Sieber's mention of the Bora wind, here's a passage about the first day of their voyage from Trieste. A week ago, almost exactly two hundred years later. I traveled by minibus from Venice through Trieste to the Istrian coast. I was feeling a bit under the weather at the end of a long journey from Philadelphia, so I enjoyed this opportunity to put the stresses of modern travel into perspective.

The following morning we were opposite Pola, the southern point of Istria: the weather was ﬁne; the fog soon dispersed, and unveiled to our view the magniﬁcent amphitheatre built in the time of Augustus. By the aid of good telescopes, we had the pleasure of observing all the details, and likewise other ruins situated in the vicinity. But a tempestuous wind blowing from the bay of Guarnero, soon oblige us to go below deck. The destruction of the crockery and glasses, the dancing about of every piece of furniture in the cabin, the vain efforts of the cabin boy to save some articles,  while he himself was thrown from side to side, would have appeared ludicrous enough, had not the increasing sea sickness damped our mirth; nor were we much consoled when the cabin boy came tumbling in with a burning lamp, which he hung up before the image of the Virgin, upon which he closed the shutters, and carried two candles in lanterns upon deck, while the crew commenced a most disharmonious litany in the Italian language, intermixed with loud lamentations and various prayers, which made us feel our forlorn situation. The boy came back, and the lamentation had ceased; but the sea raged with still greater fury. When I took courage to ask the boy how matters stood, I found, to my sorrow, that he understood only the Maltese language; but the captain soon came and removed our apprehensions, wishing the storm might long continue, if the wind would only blow half a quarter more northerly.

On to Mr. Sieber's Bora citation, which sits in the middle of some interesting (but I think quite wrong) scientific reasoning about the source of sea-temperature variations:

In the neighbourhood of Corfu I made an interesting observation—A sailor having taken up some sea water in a pail, which I had asked for to wash my face and hands, at a time when a cold wind was blowing, I was much surprized to ﬁnd it quite warm, as if it had been taken from a warm spring. I convinced myself that this warmth was diffused over the whole surface of the sea on which we were sailing, and that it was not merely relative, as contrasted with the coldness of the atmosphere, but proceeded from the violent agitation of the waves. The sailor told me, that after a violent storm the seamen preferred bathing amongst the rocks on the coast, because the water was there warmer than in the open sea. This conﬁrmed my observation, that the water is in fact heated by motion and the dashing of the waves, and that this increase of temperature really proceeds from the friction of the water; for soon after a storm, the warmth of the sea water is often three or four degrees above what it is on calm days. This is, however, true only to a certain depth, for below forty-ﬁve feet, the sea is always tranquil, even during the greatest storms, as divers and pearl ﬁshers unanimously agree, an as experiments have pr0ved. I fetched my thermometer, and found the warmth of the atmos here to be twelve degrees and a half (Reaumur), and that of the sea water fourteen and one third, or nearly two degrees more. It is incredible how much the water is heated by the beating of the waves; for when the cold, and violent north wind, call Bora, blows at Trieste, (which we found by experiment to pass over at least forty feet in a second) and according to the laws of evaporation ought to cool the sea, which is in the most violent commotion, we on the contrary ﬁnd the water to be more heated the longer the storm continues. This warmth cannot be communicated to the water from the atmosphere, but is to be ascribed to the friction of the parts of the water against each other, and against the various 0bstacles on the coasts. The saltness of the sea water, and its greater speciﬁc gravity, may likewise tend to increase the friction, and consequently the production of heat. Unfortunately I had not afterwards a favourable opportunity of examining the increase of the warmth of the sea water after a storm, its decrease below the surface, and the relative warmth of the part of the surface further from the sea shore, which had remained less agitated, because such experiments always attract attention in Turkey.

Of course this is all in search of the first written evidence of this word in English — Adriatic peoples must have been using (various languages' version of the term) Bora for many centuries before 1817.

Latin Boreas and Greek Βορέας as the personification of the North Wind are presumably more general as well as earlier. So I wonder when Bora began to be used for the more specific Adriatic phenomenon.

And there's this:

The Buran (Turkish: Boran) is a wind which blows across eastern Asia, specifically Xinjiang, Siberia, and Kazakhstan. Over the tundra, it is also known as Purga.

The Buran takes two forms: in summer, it is a hot, dry wind, whipping up sandstorms; in winter, it is bitterly cold and often accompanied by blizzards. Winter buran winds are strong and full of ice and snow. The sky is often laden with snow, which swirls about and reduces the visibility to near zero at times. In Alaska this severe north-easterly wind is known as Burga and brings snow and ice pellets.

From the Adriatic, through Turkey, to Russia, and on to Alaska! More here.

By the way, the food and atmosphere at Na Burji were both excellent.

1. ### Petar said,

May 30, 2016 @ 6:17 am

In Serbian, and likely also Croatian, Bulgarian and Slovene, bura is used as a generic word for storms in addition to its appellative use for the Northern Wind. So "buran" means "stormy, tempestuous" both in a literal and figurative sense.

That the Ikavian word has a /j/ is very interesting and if I had to hazard a guess likely a different phonological development of the Slavic short yer.

2. ### Sili said,

May 30, 2016 @ 6:33 am

And then there's Buran, the Russian space plane. (Named for the wind according to WP.)

3. ### Catanea said,

May 30, 2016 @ 6:52 am

A fascinating account of sailing in the Bora can be found in Dorothy Dunnett's Split Code. Fictional, but undoubtedly well researched, and very exciting.

4. ### Elisabeth Elliott said,

May 30, 2016 @ 7:15 am

Above I believe the Wikipedia article mistakenly lists the Russian as "бора" (transliterated: bora), when it should be "буря" (transliterated: burja). According to Max Vasmer's Russian Etymological Dictionary, it is borrowed from the Turkish 'bora' from likely Greek. (vol.1, p.193; NB. For those unfamiliar with this dictionary it exists on in Russian). http://vasmer.narod.ru/p058.htm

5. ### Victor Mair said,

May 30, 2016 @ 7:42 am

Thank you for the amazing, wonderful post, Mark.

As soon as I read the second paragraph, I thought of the buran sandstorms of Eastern Central Asia (Uyghurstan / Xinjiang / Sinkiang), since I have experienced them personally on more than one occasion (if you're out in the desert when one strikes, have your camel get down on the ground and crouch behind it). I had no idea that the Turkic word "buran" was related to our words "boreal", "hyperborean", and "aurora borealis".

Here's a really bad one that took place recently (mid-May, 2016) in Kashgar (with impressive videos).

The early European explorers in the region often encountered the buran and describe them in their reports. Here are some mentions of buran in the works of Aurel Stein (check several pages of the Google search), the Hungarian-British archeologist.

The great Swedish explorer, Sven Hedin, several times almost lost his life when engulfed in buran. Here is a very colorful, first-hand account by Hedin in The Chicago Tribune for Sunday, December 2, 1900, complete with a drawing of camels recumbent "In a Black Sandstorm" and a vivid description of being in a buran (first two sections of the 2nd column).

For historical-ecological remarks on qara buran ("black buran"), see the last paragraph on p. 318 of James Millward's Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang.

6. ### Ari Corcoran said,

May 30, 2016 @ 7:48 am

In contemporary Palermo, Sicily, at least, il scirocco, is a wind that comes from the south, and blazes across the island as hot gusts (and dust) almost inevitably followed by rainy weather from 12-24 hours afterwards. Mostly autumn and early winter.

7. ### January First-of-May said,

May 30, 2016 @ 8:22 am

@Elizabeth Elliott – the word бора is used when referring to the Adriatic wind specifically, while буря means "storm, strong wind" in general.
(And, from my perspective, so does буран – I've never heard of it being restricted to Central Asia specifically.)

And as much as I dislike the Narod version of Vasmer's dictionary (with its rather weird encoding that leaves words with unusual symbols very confusing – and, of course, the rather distracting pop-up ads that appear on every Narod site these days), it might be the only well-available one now after the demise of Yandex Dictionary.

8. ### Coby Lubliner said,

May 30, 2016 @ 9:01 am

Most Slavic language have a cognate of буря (as in Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian) as a word for 'storm': Polish burza, Czech bouře, Serbocroat bura, Macedonian and Belarusian бура. I have no idea whether this is related to 'bora'.

9. ### Coby Lubliner said,

May 30, 2016 @ 9:03 am

I meant 'languages'. Also, @ Ari Corcoran: it's lo scirocco.

May 30, 2016 @ 9:29 am

Vaguely on topic: I have always been struck by the tendency of European (or is it Eurasian?) peoples to name and personify specific winds. In addition to the bora and the scirocco, already named, there's the Föhn in the Alps, a warm downslope wind which is supposed to have all kinds of effects on people's mood and whose name is extended at least in German and Italian to mean an electric hairdryer. There's also the mistral (Italian maestrale), and undoubtedly quite a few others. (Italian has a full set of eight names for winds from the four cardinal directions and the four intermediate ones, though I doubt most speakers know more than a few locally relevant ones, like the maestrale in Sardinia or the already mentioned scirocco in Sicily.)

For some reason, those same Europeans seem to have left this particular habit behind when they took over the Americas. The only named/personified wind I can think of in American English is the chinook (I'm not counting the New England nor'easter, on the grounds that its name is transparently just based on compass directions and doesn't amount to naming and personifying).

11. ### Rube said,

May 30, 2016 @ 9:40 am

@ Bob Ladd: I suppose calling the wind Maria doesn't count, since that was always in a fictional context.

12. ### Robert Coren said,

May 30, 2016 @ 10:12 am

@Bob Ladd & @Rube: There's also the Santa Ana (in the Southwest). I don't know if we're allowed to count the Montreal Express (here in the Northeast).

13. ### CuConnacht said,

May 30, 2016 @ 10:16 am

Bob Ladd: California has the Santa Ana and the Pineapple Express. And isn't there a Chicago term for a biting cold wind from the north? I can't bring it to mind, if indeed I am remembering correctly that there is such a term.

14. ### Coby Lubliner said,

May 30, 2016 @ 10:55 am

Bob Ladd: the naming of the eight winds is common to the whole western Mediterranean, not just Italy. A famous Majorcan folk song, Els vuit vents del món, actually lists them all, clockwise from east to northeast: Llevant, xaloc i migjorn, llebeig, ponent i mestral, tramuntana i gregal. Note xaloc = scirocco, mestral = maestrale = mistral, tramuntana = tramontana. (Llebeig is called garbí in Catalonia.) Note also that llevant, migjorn and ponent mean simply east, south and west.

15. ### Levantine said,

May 30, 2016 @ 11:05 am

In Turkish too, 'bora' is a generic term for a storm, and it is also now used as a male first name.

16. ### Levantine said,

May 30, 2016 @ 11:18 am

Another (and more usual) generic word for storm in Turkish is 'fırtına', which is from Italian 'fortuna'.

May 30, 2016 @ 11:32 am

@Levantine: Actually, I expect Turkish fırtına is more likely from Romanian furtuna, which also means 'storm', whereas Italian fortuna just means 'good luck'. It seems more likely that the semantic shift occurred within Romance (i.e. between Latin and Romanian) and then passed to neighbouring Turkish, rather than that it happened between Italian and Turkish and then passed to Romanian, or that it independently happened twice. There are lots of loans in Romanian from Turkish, Greek, Hungarian, and Slavic, so it makes sense that there was borrowing in the other direction as well.

18. ### Levantine said,

May 30, 2016 @ 11:52 am

Bob Ladd, Italian is the likelier source (Ottoman Turkish has plenty of borrowings from it), and older definitions of Italian 'fortuna' do include the meteorological sense: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0dAPAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA258&dq=fortuna+storm+Italian&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqp5m7mYLNAhXKCsAKHbAWChkQ6AEIIzAB#v=onepage&q=fortuna%20storm%20Italian&f=false

Not sure how many other languages have a semantic overlap between wind and time, but Persian 'rozgar' can also denote both. I suppose in English we refer to the winds of time…

May 30, 2016 @ 11:54 am

@Cory Lubliner: Thanks! The Catalan names are all clearly cognate with the Italian ones – levante, scirocco, mezzogiorno, libeccia, ponente, maestrale, tramontana, and grecale (though the mezzogiorno is also called the ostro).

20. ### Levantine said,

May 30, 2016 @ 12:06 pm

Sorry, I meant an overlap between wind and fortune, the latter of which is itself often collapsed with the notion of time. What I said for Persian still holds true — 'rozgar' can mean wind, time, or fortune — just as we in English have both 'winds of time' and 'winds of fortune'.

May 30, 2016 @ 12:15 pm

@Levantine: I stand corrected. I wasn't aware of the older Italian meaning (and neither was my wife, who's a native speaker of Italian). The comprehensive De Mauro dictionary from 1999 lists the meaning of 'storm' as "obsolete" and "literary only", but it also gives a technical use from present-day maritime use, for any shipping accident due to the sea or force majeure. There's also fortunale, which is a normal word for a sudden strong wind or storm.

For the sake of completeness I checked a big Romanian dictionary, and it gives the etymology of furtuna (which in Romanian only means 'storm', not 'good luck') as being from Modern Greek! Sure enough, the Modern Greek furtuna means 'storm'. So you're surely right that the Romance word got into the Eastern Mediterranean from Italian (presumably Southern Italian seafarers) a long time ago, and has spread from there, including into Romanian.

22. ### Levantine said,

May 30, 2016 @ 12:18 pm

Bob Ladd, that's fascinating! From the Romance-speaking world to the Eastern Mediterranean and then back again. Thanks for sharing.

23. ### Victor Mair said,

May 30, 2016 @ 1:40 pm

Wikipedia has a fascinating article on the "Classical compass winds", which discusses their personification, depiction on maps, different characters, names, and so forth.

24. ### Coby Lubliner said,

May 30, 2016 @ 2:46 pm

Bob Ladd: Google Translate lists furtunë as one of the Albanian words for 'storm'.

25. ### Coby Lubliner said,

May 30, 2016 @ 2:50 pm

I wonder if the northeasterly gregal = grecale implies that it comes from Greece.

May 30, 2016 @ 3:16 pm

Further evidence for the Italian-to-Eastern-Med story on furtuna 'storm': exploration of web-based dictionaries has revealed that furtuna means 'storm' not only in Greek, Romanian and Turkish, as previously noted, but also in Albanian and in Judeo-Spanish. It doesn't appear to be in Bulgarian or Arabic, or Maltese.

However, muddying the waters somewhat is the fact that (as fortuna) it also shows up meaning 'storm' in a nautical context in Spanish as well. I can't find any evidence of it in Occitan, Catalan, Portuguese or Sardinian – or in Latin.

27. ### Levantine said,

May 30, 2016 @ 3:35 pm

Bobb Ladd, the article from which the following snippet is taken seems promising:

28. ### Levantine said,

May 30, 2016 @ 3:40 pm

29. ### pep said,

May 31, 2016 @ 1:54 am

and if you ever want to read texts in triestin dialect -closely related to venetian-, obviously that´s your link:

http://bora.la/

30. ### pep said,

May 31, 2016 @ 2:28 am

@ Bob Ladd: I´m a native Catalan speaker son of a fisherman but I didn´t know, or failed to recall, that meaning of fortuna. So I went to the best (virtual) place in order to find out: http://dcvb.iecat.net/

and bingo: FORTUNA 3. Tempestat, especialment en la mar; cast. temporal, tempestad. Una gran fortuna acullí-lo, Muntaner Cròn., c. 172. Mes-se en una nau per fer son viatge; e vench tanta fortuna, que la nau peria, Quar. 1413, pàg. 62

the examples given are all in old Catalan, perhaps it´s an old fashioned meaning. More research to come ;-)

31. ### anhweol said,

May 31, 2016 @ 6:20 am

Coby Lubliner: I believe the gregal is indeed linked to Greece.

In Maltese the wind names are the ordinary terms for compass directions. I don't know much of the language, but remember trying to read a newspaper article involving events in North-East Greece, on the border with Turkey. North-East Greece was "il-grigal ta' Grecja", etymologically "the Greek side of Greece", which seemed rather paradoxical.

May 31, 2016 @ 6:46 am

@pep: Thanks! I wouldn't be surprised to find this usage turning up in all parts of the Romance-speaking area back in the Middle Ages if we look closely enough. It's a pretty natural semantic extension for people who set to sea in smallish wooden craft and with no scientific understanding of weather. But exactly what route the form furtuna took to get from Romance to the languages of the Eastern Mediterranean is less clear, and I doubt it would be easy to establish that for sure. The fact that it shows up as furtuna rather than fortuna narrows the range of possibilities a little, but not a lot.

33. ### Levantine said,

May 31, 2016 @ 8:18 am

Bobb Ladd, not sure if you caught the second of the links I posted, which discusses the existence of this sense even in (Medieval) Latin.

As for the shift from 'fortuna' to 'furtuna', could this be what happened to the word after it entered Turkish? 'Furtuna' is the older Turkish pronunciation, and the shift from O to U in the first syllable is in keeping with other words borrowed into the language (famous, of course, for its vowel harmony):e.g., Arabic 'mudir' (director) becomes 'müdür', Greek 'phourno[s]' becomes 'furun' (today 'fırın').

34. ### flow said,

May 31, 2016 @ 9:04 am

@Bob Ladd—I think you're overlooking here, at least, the mighty Blizzard and the fearsome Hurricane; the latter is known in Germany as Orkan [or'ka:n] (is that related to 'Orcs'?).

This year I had the luck to witness the advent of the Eisheiligen (Ice Saints, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisheilige) while being roughly a mile out from the coast, in the middle of the North German salt flats. There, in the middle of a mud plain that extends as far as the eye can see, the winds rather abruptly turned north, becoming stronger and much chillier, and what had been a pleasant warm early summer day quickly turned into a windy, overcast and rather ungemütliche scenery that would last for three days, necessitating several layers of clothing. Given the importance of the conditions for sailors and farmers alike, I believe identifying—naming—knowing those phenomena (personally—'in person', in a manner of speaking) is rather a cultural achievement than quaint European folklore.

May 31, 2016 @ 9:52 am

@Levantine: I doubt that Turkish vowel harmony is the reason for the change from fortuna to furtuna, though it could easily be the reason for the change from furtuna to fırtına. The raising of mid vowels to high vowels in unstressed syllables (e.g. fortuna to furtuna) is a prominent feature of many Romance languages and dialects (Std. Portuguese, Catalan (back vowels only), many Italian and Romanian varieties), and I think it makes sense to assume that the Romance source of the Eastern Mediterranean forms, whatever it was, was a dialect in which this raising occurred.

(By the way, this sound change is the reason why Romania(n) is also known in English as Rumania(n) – Latin Roman- became Romanian Rumân- by regular sound changes, but was deliberately changed to Român- when the standard language was codified in the 19th century, in order to emphasise the continuity with the Roman Empire and hence to reinforce the legitimacy of Romanian presence in that ethnically mixed part of the world. In a number of languages – e.g. French – the word for Romania(n) still has the /u/ vowel in the first syllable, but the Romanians have been fairly successful in persuading other languages – including English and Italian – to change /u/ to /o/.)

May 31, 2016 @ 10:02 am

@Flow: I don't doubt the value of practical knowledge of local climate phenomena (after I moved to Edinburgh I had to learn about haar, for example). My original comment was mostly about the fact that at least some winds are given actual names rather than just being referred to by the direction they come from.

37. ### Levantine said,

May 31, 2016 @ 10:16 am

Bobb Ladd, it may well be that the word already entered Turkish in its altered form, but given how many other borrowed words follow a similar pattern (I gave just two examples), I don't think one should so quickly dismiss the possibility that the change happened after the word's transfer. The phenomenon at play isn't, strictly speaking, vowel harmony, since both 'fortuna' and 'furtuna' are consistent with Turkish rules on this matter. Rather, we're dealing with vowel assimilation, a far-reaching tendency in Turkish that has affected native words as much as ones borrowed from elsewhere. Thus older (and today dialectal) Turkish 'böyük' (big) is now standardly "büyük".

38. ### Levantine said,

May 31, 2016 @ 10:19 am

Another relevant source: http://www.jstor.org/stable/543556?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

39. ### Levantine said,

May 31, 2016 @ 10:37 am

This Italian article (with an English abstract) investigates the Ottomans' use of Italian loanwords though historical transliterations in Western language:

44. ### Not a naive speaker said,

May 31, 2016 @ 3:31 pm

In the 70s Volkswagen built the first Scirocco

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Scirocco#Nameplate_etymology

May 31, 2016 @ 4:47 pm

@Levantine: I think this conversation is probably getting too esoteric even for Language Log, but thanks for all the references. I had no idea that nautical vocabulary was so extensively borrowed from Italian and Greek into Turkish. But on the vowels of fortuna/furtuna, I think the issue is undecidable. Rohlfs's book on the history of Italian emphasises that the raising of pretonic /o/ to /u/ is very widespread, including in Northern dialects such as Venetian (a plausible source of nautical words in the Eastern Mediterranean), and also mentions that many words were variable in pre-modern written works. And from Werner Winter's review of the Kahane, Kahane and Tietze book you mention, there's this:

“The graphic conventions of Arabic script as applied in old Turkish texts greatly reduce the area of certainty about phonological features in borrowed items. … In particular, the study of fine points of the vocalism is largely impossible.”

and this:

“Not in all cases can it be decided with complete assurance whether a given term went through Greek (etc.) or was borrowed directly. The only criteria available are phonological; if no sound feature recorded is typical for one or the other alternative, no decision is possible.”

46. ### Levantine said,

May 31, 2016 @ 5:06 pm

Bobb Ladd, the Italian article for which I provided the link directly addresses the very issue you raise, since it deals with historical transcriptions of Ottoman terminology into European languages. The question of how accurately these capture the sounds of Turkish is open to debate, of course, but it is nevertheless notable that some of the earliest Western attempts to transcribe the Turkish word for storm give 'fortuna' rather than 'furtuna'. I'm not saying this proves the shift from O to U happened in Turkish, but I see no basis for rejecting the possibility out of hand.

To my mind, this kind of discussion is what Language Log is made of. My apologies to anyone else who feels things have become too esoteric.

47. ### Levantine said,

May 31, 2016 @ 5:07 pm

And sorry, Bob Ladd, for repeatedly misspelling your first name. I only just noticed I was doing it.

48. ### cameron said,

May 31, 2016 @ 7:39 pm

I wonder if fortuna was the usual word for storm in Sabir?

49. ### Levantine said,

May 31, 2016 @ 8:19 pm

cameron, the following suggest it was:

https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/corre/www/franca/edition3/lingua5.html

50. ### Levantine said,

May 31, 2016 @ 9:01 pm

Bob Ladd, here's some evidence in your favour (it seems 'furtuna' is the Sicilian form):

June 1, 2016 @ 12:50 am

@Levantine: I did read the Italian article's entry on fortuna, and I wasn't rejecting out of hand the possibility that the change happened in Turkish – my final comment was that it was undecidable. But at the very least, it seems likely that the form furtuna was there in the Italian "input" to Turkish and Greek, along with fortuna. It's also possible that Latinizing spelling would have influenced a few European transcribers to write the variable vowel with O rather than U.

As for the spelling of my name, the doubling of the final B happens surprisingly often. No need to apologise – for all I know this proves something profound about the mental representation of gemination.

52. ### Counterbander said,

June 1, 2016 @ 4:26 pm

It seems to suggest Levantine has not internalized the rule by which monosyllabic English surnames ending in short vowel + plosive are routinely geminated in spelling, while forenames/nicknames – like ordinary common nouns – are not. Thus Pitt vs Pat, pat; Mudd vs Bud, mud; Cobb vs Bob, cob; Rigg vs rig; Capp vs cap, Ladd vs lad etc. (Of course, the spelling -k is not native in these contexts, and the digraph -ck is used instead, unchanged.)

53. ### Levantine said,

June 1, 2016 @ 4:52 pm

Counterbander, I am a native speaker of English and internalised the rules long ago, so you can drop the condescending tone. I was simply thrown off by 'Ladd' and ended up unconsciously doubling the consonant of the first name, too. If writing 'Bob' in isolation, I would not have made the mistake.

54. ### V said,

June 2, 2016 @ 8:48 am

"Further evidence for the Italian-to-Eastern-Med story on furtuna 'storm': exploration of web-based dictionaries has revealed that furtuna means 'storm' not only in Greek, Romanian and Turkish, as previously noted, but also in Albanian and in Judeo-Spanish. It doesn't appear to be in Bulgarian or Arabic, or Maltese."

"фъртуна" does mean "storm" in Bulgarian, but only figuratively.

55. ### V said,

June 2, 2016 @ 8:49 am

And it's more like "whirlwind".