Abbott's Abode, part 2

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[This is a guest post by Michael Bates.  It is about the place in Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011 and where, a scant five months earlier, on January 25, 2011, Indonesian terrorist Umar Patek was arrested.]

Via Google search, I found your post about the etymology of "-ābād" ("Abbott's Abode" [5/6/11]), which is very enlightening.
This is in the context of my previous discussion of the mints al-Hārūniyya and Hārūnābād in 2011. Someone just now responded cogently to the argument online.* My thinking has evolved a bit since I last wrote. I would now argue that the termination "-iyya" in an Arabic toponym indicates an elided "al-Madīna" [al-Hārūniyya], and that madīna indicates a walled settlement. For example, Madīnat al-Salām is not a renaming or synonym of Baghdad, but rather Madīnat al-Salām was the circular walled fortification–one can easily find a modern plan of it–superimposed within or on or adjacent to a pre-existing undefined town named Baghdad, which was or came to be larger territorially, and survived as a place and a name long after the madīna itself was destroyed by the Mongols.

So thus, Hārunābād was an unbounded military settlement in Armenia, while al-Hārūniyya was a fortified walled enclosure for the caliph, his troops, and officials. And so on: Fustat was an "ābād" (actually, a misr/masr or camp, like Basra and Kufa), but "al-Qāhira" (al-Madīna al-Qāhira) was a walled compound for the Fatimid caliphs and their Ayyubid successors that gave its name, distorted by Europeans, to "Cairo," an unwalled megalopolis.


*VHM:  See the lengthy comment (11/11/23) by Inspironi here, which directly engages with Michael Bates' previous comments on this topic.  Michael responds (p.c. 11/13/23) thus:

He might be right in his final conclusion,** but he is surely right to protest against regarding the several names on the coins as different designations for the same place. I have begun to think the same way myself about this and many other instances, e.g. Madinat al-Salam is not Baghdad, al-Qahira is a walled rectangle and not synonymous with Cairo, and so on. I'll keep you on my share list for work on this.


Summing up, there are strong indications to believe that Harunabad and al-Haruniya were two different locations. The former is associated with al-Muhammadiya-II and subsequently Ma’din Bajunays, while the latter should be non other than Arminiya’s provincial capital Dabil/Dvin.


Selected readings

"Abbottabad" (WP) — Abbottabad (/ˈæbətəbɑːd/; Urdu, Hindko: ایبٹ آباد, romanized: aibṭabād, pronounced [ɛːbʈəˈbaːd̪]) is the capital city of Abbottabad District in the Hazara region of eastern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It is the 40th largest city in Pakistan and fourth largest in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by population. It is about 120 km (75 mi) north of Islamabad-Rawalpindi and 150 km (95 mi) east of Peshawar, at an elevation of 1,256 m (4,121 ft). Kashmir lies a short distance to the east.  The name combines the name of the city founder, Major James Abbott, and the Persian ending ābād, meaning "settlement, town of".

abode (n.)

mid-13c., "action of waiting," verbal noun from abiden "to abide" (see abide). It is formally identical with the old, strong past participle of abide (Old English abad), but the modern conjugation is weak and abided is used. The present-to-preterite vowel change is consistent with an Old English class I strong verb (ride/rode, etc.). The meaning "habitual residence" is attested by 1570s.

abide (v.)

Middle English abiden, from Old English abidan, gebidan "remain, wait, wait for, delay, remain behind," from ge- completive prefix (denoting onward motion; see a- (1)) + bidan "bide, remain, wait, dwell" (see bide).

Originally intransitive (with genitive of the object: we abidon his "we waited for him"); the transitive senses of "endure, sustain, stay firm under," also "tolerate, bear, put up with" (now usually with a negative) are from c. 1200. To abide with "stay with (someone); live with; remain in the service of" is from c. 1300. 

Related: Abided; abiding. The historical conjugation was abide, abode, abidden, but in Modern English the formation generally is weak.

∴ most likely not related to Persian;  see part 1 of this series lengthy, detailed disquisition on this conjecture, with many experts weighing in.


  1. Martin Schwartz said,

    December 15, 2023 @ 10:56 pm

    1) Re Pers. (-)ābād, my Iranist linguistic colleagues were right in all they said in the 2011 post, but I'll restate the matter so that it is clearer to non-Iranists, and I'll also address miscellanea from the 2011 posting and the present one. We start with a Proto-Indo-Europeanroot *peh2 'to protect, to shepherd', e.g. Hittite pahš-, Lat. pāscōpāvi, pāstor. The -a- vocalism shows laryngeal *h2 and not *h2.For the (Indo-)Iranian outcome Cheung correctly gives a laryngealist √paH; many Indo-Iranists, without denying the latter, pragmatically operate with IIr. √pā ('to protect'). From this root
    Old Iranian has present stem pāya- past (ptc.) stem pāta-, both reflected in Avestan (Platt's term "Zend" and what he says on the matter are very outdated, and useless for our purposes.). Now,
    with the preverb ā- (which functions much like Lat. ad), Old Ir. (Proto-Ir.) had *āpāta- 'fortified, built up, cultivated'; while the limited vocabulary of Av. and Old Pers. do not attest this
    because of lack of contexts in our material, it is well attested
    in Middle Iranian. So in Sogdian, in which post vocalic *-p-
    was not voiced; offhand I remember a fem. reflex 'cultivated [with orchards etc.] in the Chr. Sogd. martyrology of St.Placidas/Eustathius, whose Syriac source I adduced in my dissertation (see further N. Sims-Williams' ed. of the ms. C2).
    In the course of Middle Persian, *-p- was regularly voiced to -b-, and *-t- to -d-; thus our Middle and New Persian ābād, and so no hope of connection with abide and abode. Re abbott, this is from
    Lat. abbās, oblique and pl. stem abbāt- vs. Gr. abbâs abbad-, both < Aram./Syr. abbā 'father'. At this point a (possibly) entertaining
    interlude on Lat. apud, which figured in the old post: When colleagues with to cite an opinion of mine in a publication of their's,
    I assent, often with request for me to view the citation before the
    final submission to the editor; I then sometimes add, "The proofs of
    apudding are in the reading'. Moving along now to Michael Bates
    and madīna, Hārūniyya, etc. Madīna fem. is the usual Arabic word for 'city' or 'town'. It also means a (geographical) jurisdiction, wherebyit reflects its origin in Aram mèdīntā, cf. Heb. medīnā(h), as inMod. mèdīnat Yisra'el 'the State of Israel', both from Sem. √dyn
    'to judge', whence dīn- 'judgement', ergo 'jurisdiction'. Arab. -iyya
    (-iyya-t-) is the usual fem. marker of fem. adj, derivarion from a noun, so Hārūniyya = 'that (viz. madīna) which pertains to Hārūn.
    (al-)Qāhira ('the Victory') is indeed the appellation behind the Europeanization Cairo, but Egyptians and other Arabs tend to call the place (al-)Mas.r < (al)-Mis.r , 'Egypt (par excellence)', which is merely the old name of Egypt with cognates in Hebrew, Akkadian, etc. and NOT a generic word for 'camp'. (my s. = underpointed s,
    i.e pharyngeal s phoneme. Finally. madīna is the hard urban core of
    a city with its suburbs.
    Martin Schwartz

  2. Bloix said,

    December 15, 2023 @ 11:57 pm

    Is it just coincidence that Arabic -iyya is virtually identical to the Greek/Latin -ia that forms the ending of so many national and regional names?

  3. Martin Schwartz said,

    December 16, 2023 @ 2:24 am

    @Bloix: Yes, interestingly, the IE and Sem. -i(y)yV- suffixation is functionally identical for all practical purposes. Mere coincidence? Parallelism of an innate cognitive linguistic propensity? Mutual inheritance of a very oldr ur-relationship between IE and Sem.? (Least likely:) borrowing?
    As Tonto would perhaps have said to the Lone Ranger, "¿Quién sabe,
    kimo sabe?"
    Martin Schwartz

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