IMC 2017: Sessions

Session 1111: Linguistic Diversity, Borrowings, and Translation in the Middle East

Wednesday 5 July 2017, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:David Richard Thomas, Centre for the Study of Islam & Christian-Muslim Relations, Birmingham
Paper 1111-aThe Armenian Word Ganj: A Lost and Found Piece of Middle Persian Treasury?
(Language: English)
Piruza Hayrapetyan, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Other, Law, Music
Paper 1111-bMarginalizing Alawites through Debate on Their Origins: Distorted Translations
(Language: English)
Feyza Sacmali, Institute of Social Sciences, Marmara University
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Historiography - Modern Scholarship
Abstract

Paper -a:
In Armenian language, the word ganj has two meanings: treasure (henceforth, ganj I) and liturgical hymn (henceforth, ganj II). In scholarship, the ganj I is considered to be a loanword from Middle Iranian (MI ganǰ, treasure, treasury), and ganj II, a borrowing from New Persian (NP گنج meaning ‘a group of Persian musical modes or notes’ attributed to Barbud). The few existing (and not complete) Middle Iranian dictionaries refer to the word ganǰ meaning only ‘treasure’ or ‘treasury’. However, in my paper, through the etymological and phonological analysis of the three dialect forms of the Armenian word ganj, I argue that as a Middle Iranian loanword the word ganj meaning song existed in Armenian language since the 5th-6th centuries. Consequently, the secondary meaning of the MI ganǰ, i.e. musical mode or note, which already existed in Early New Persian, was already in use in the Middle Iranian period. The three dialect forms of the ganj II display slight semantic differences; ritual, magic song (Łarabał dialect), announcement, or edict (Šatax dialect) and lament to the dead (Van dialect), all going back to the same shared core meaning of ‘song’. These dialect forms can serve as a clue to reconstruct the complete semantic picture of the MI ganǰ and trace its semantic development hypothetically as: treasure – spiritual treasure – spiritual word / song. In fact, the extension of meaning of the MI ganǰ to the sphere of poetry and music is certainly not surprising as, for instance, several collections of andarz contain the word ganǰ in their title, e.g. Ganj ī šāyegān šāhīgān (The Royal Treasury). Interestingly, the same phenomenon is observed in Syriac literature as well: the Syriac word gazō, also borrowed from Middle Iranian, appears in a liturgical-musical book called Bēth gazō (Treasure-house).

Paper-b:
Apparently, medieval heretics also have been incorporated into the debate over the origin of Alawites with insufficient connections and distorted translations. Even those who advocate a connection between Alawites and heretics are a little bit confused regarding which heretical group and Alawites are linked. Taking into consideration that the idea that the medieval heretical groups were connected to each other is now discredited, trying to connect the roots of Alawites with medieval heretics can only lead to the marginalization of the Alawites. Therefore, it is possible to suggest that these translations are speculative and follow a political agenda. This study aims at discussing the debates on the origin of Alawites, distorted translations about heretics and Alawites and to reveal the disconnection of Medieval Christian Heresy and Alawites.