13 August 2013

Aragonese mardano, mardán 'ram' (updated)

Aragonese mardano, mardán 'ram'1 is a pre-Latin word with cognates in Catalan mardà, marrà and Occitan marran, marre, marro, where it also means 'sturdy man'. The latter was borrowed into dialectal Basque marro (HN, L, LN) 'ram', barro (S, R) '1 year old ram'2. Contrarily to some authors, in this word the original cluster -ɾδ- was assimilated to -ɾɾ- and not the other way around3

Basque has another word for 'ram' (also 'sheep' in northern dialects): ahari (L, LN), ãhãri (Z), aari (B, HN), adari (B), ari (B, G, S, R) < *anaɾi, from an earlier *a-maɾi with delabialization in Paleo-Basque. This protoform is cognate to Galician marón (diminutive marondo) 'male of animal (especially pig or bull)', regional Spanish marón4 and Gascon maro 'ram', a root found in Latin marītus 'male, husband' (likely an Etruscan loanword) and Hurrian mari(j)-annə 'chariot driver', which Starostin links to Caucasian *mo:rdɮV 'male'5.

In my opinion, this etymon could be also related to mardano and the like, although through a different substrate language.
1 Also bardano (Echo), with denasalization of m-. See A. Kuhn (1935, 2008): El dialecto altoaragonés. p. 107.
2 There's also regional Navarrese Spanish borro '1-2 years old lamb'.
3 A. Kuhn, op. cit., p. 116.
4 There're also the Spanish forms marote (diminutive), marueco, morueco, murueco.
5 I. Diakonoff & S. Starostin (1986): Hurro-Urartian as an Eastern Caucasian Language, §18.


  1. See my response to "Celtic *marko- 'horse'"

    This word definitely fits semantically with Afroasiatic as well...

    1. Not really. Phonetically they can be similar, but semantically are worlds apart: 'male' > 'ram'.

  2. Proto-Afroasiatic: *marʔ- ~ *maʔar-
    Meaning: child, (young) man

    Semitic: *marʔ- 'son, boy' 1, 'child' 2, 'lord' 3, 'man' 4, 'husband' 5
    Egyptian: mr.w 'people' (OK)
    Western Chadic: *mVr- 'boy' 1, 'person' 2, 'male' 3, 'family' 4
    Central Chadic: *ma/ur- 'man'
    East Chadic: *maHar- 'uncle' (?)
    High East Cushitic: *mur- 'infant'
    Omotic: Ong maara (Fl)'baby', North Mao meri 'child' (Grottanelli)

    1. IE-ists also reconstruct an IE protoform *merjo- 'young man'. Possibly these are distant relatives of the Vasco-Caucasian word.

  3. I was wondering...could "-martis" from Britomartis be connected with this root?

    I saw the Hurrian word when searching through the online database of North Caucasian etyma.

    Found it.

    Proto-North Caucasian: *mōrŁV

    Meaning: male
    Proto-Nakh: *mār
    Proto-Dargwa: *marga
    Proto-Lezghian: *morƛ:ɨl / *uorƛ:ɨl

    Notes: Reconstructed for the PEC level. Cf. also Hurr. mari(j)-annǝ 'chariot driver', Urart. marǝ 'one of the social groups' - an important social term, not borrowed (as sometimes supposed) from Indo-Aryan (see Diakonoff-Starostin 1986, 21). (Sergei Starostin)

    The reflexes of this word like much like the reflexes for horse in your "Celtic *marko- 'horse'" post. Possibly male > male horse, stallion? I mean, if the words are related, it is not implausible, correct?

    Also, off topic but I saw a word that means 'male' in the North Caucasian online database that looked like the word used by the Indo-Iranian speakers for themselves,*arya- or *ārya-, a self-designation, perhaps meaning "compatriot."

    1. I was wondering...could "-martis" from Britomartis be connected with this root?
      Not impossible, but semantically it's odd to have meanings such as 'unmarried girl', 'virgin' or 'bride' developping from 'male'. This is why I think the connexion with Pre-Greek parthénos much more likely.

      The reflexes of this word like much like the reflexes for horse in your "Celtic *marko- 'horse'" post.
      Yes, phonetically they're quite similar, but semantically they are NOT.

      Possibly male > male horse, stallion?
      I think this is very unlikely, as the only possibility would be the 'horse' Wanderwort was coined by a Caucasian-speaking tribe of desperate horse-breeders, which is a rather implausible scenario. Male pigs, bulls and rams are much better candidates because they're very frequent among pastoralists.

      Also the other Caucasian 'male' word, *ʔi:rɬɬwV (~ -ɨ:-) isn't even phonetically close to 'Aryan'.

  4. Correction: The reflexes of this word LOOK much like the reflexes for horse in your "Celtic *marko- 'horse'" post.

    Thank you, Octavia.

    I was just wondering could there be any connection concerning all of the above.

    As far as I know, the approximant, /ʎ/, SOUNDS like /y/ as in, yes, to my English-speaking ears. Is it possible to the ears of an Indo-Iranian, they could have heard the same thing? Though it is not the same thing as /y/, it sounds like it. Palatal_lateral_approximant

    I think the Nakh reflexes are close.

    Proto-Nakh: *ʔārʎi

    Meaning: 1 ungelt 2 ram
    Chechen: ēra 1
    Ingush: ärh 1
    Batsbi: ajrʎ 2

    Couldn't the semantic development be similar to this post about the ram? Also, wouldn't there be some distortion in the borrowing of this word since there are sounds in NE Caucasian that have no equivalent in Indo-Iranian? They would have to approximate the sounds as best they could in there own language?

    I will stop now since this is clearly off topic.

  5. Also, the Afroasiatic form:

    Proto-Afro-Asiatic: *ma(hi)r-

    Meaning: servant, slave

    Semitic: *mary/w- / *mahir- 'subordinate; service man, soldier'
    Egyptian: mr.t 'serf' (OK)
    Western Chadic: *mar- 'slave'
    Central Chadic: *mVr- 'slave'

    Notes: Related to *marʔ- '(young) man'? (Militarev, Stolbova)

    Notice how the Semitic form looks phonetically and semantically cognate to the Hurrian form you mention in this post. Possibly 'subordinate; service man, soldier' > 'chariot driver'?

  6. Not impossible, but the word could have also travelled the other way around in case it's a Wanderwort. Remember, the closer phonetical and semantically, the likelier we're dealing with one of them.

    1. Also, why did you not mention the form you used in your post was the same one I posted subsequently. You spelled it differently. I feel like a dunce.

    2. The NE Caucasian form for male, that is.

    3. Oh, I thought it was obvious. You've got the habit of "quoting" me afterwards. :-)