26 August 2013

Latin faber 'smith', fabrica 'workshop'

Latin faber 'smith' < *dab-r-o- (traditional *dhabh-) derives from an onomatopoeic root *tap- ~ *dab- mimicking the hitting of metal1. In Romance languages, the Latin word has descendants in Italian fabbro, Occitan faure, Old French fevre2. Possibly also Basque harotz 'smith' reflects Italic *fabros.

The derivative fabrica 'workshop, forge' (but also 'art, trade') is the source of Spanish fragua 'forge': fábrica > *frábica (metathesis) > frauga (syncope and lenition) > fragua. This word was borrowed into Basque arrago (B, G, HN) 'crucible', where final -a was reanalyzed as the definite article. The Latin word is also the source of Catalan farga and French forge, the latter exported as a Wanderwort to several languages, including English.
1 The IE etymology concoted by Pokorný, based on a resemblance to Armenian darbin, is a pile of rubbish.
2 Hence orfèvre 'silversmith, goldsmith', a compound with or 'gold'.

1 comment:

  1. From central Africa to Polynesia, tapa cloth is the pounded inner bark of fig trees (I speculate that the 'fig leaves' in Genesis were actually tapa loincloths, since fig leaves irritate the skin).

    I had no idea that textile 'fabric' derived from tapa.