Monday, September 04, 2006

Barbaric Folk Entymologies

So, Boromir has a question for Chaka, and anyone else for that matter, but he cannot post, so I'll post in his stead (that sentence should be re-worded to remove a comma or two, but I'm feeling lazy):

What is the origin of the word "Barbarian"? Boromir was intruiged because he had heard two different origins, and I had heard a third origin.

Boromir heard:
1) Barbar means "outsider" in some language.
2) Barbar is like the name of a tribe of a particularly savage peoples in asia.

I heard:
When the Greeks or Romans or some other tribe of people came upon Northern Europeans who were speaking Germanic languages, they thought that the Germanic peoples' gibberish sounded like "bar bar bar bar bar bar." So any peoples who spoke a Germanic language were called "barbarions."

Has anyone else heard a different origin for the word "barbarian"? Do you have your own guess, Chaka?
At the end we can then check O.E.D. and find the actual origin.

11 comments:

Linus said...

i could make some up.

Pirate Jimmy said...

Do it!

Linus said...

i said i could - that doesn't mean i'm anti-lazy enough to actually do it.

Linus said...

once, there was a rabbit named kaul. and he could never find enough troops to fight his never ending battles against his most evil of enemies. so, one day while he was joking through the forest (cause well, just because he has no army is no reason to not stay fit) he came across a white rabbit. the rabbit told him, that he could help him out for a bushel of carrots. so, all day our friend kaul went in search for a bushel of carrots. after a few hours of intensive searching he realized that he had no idea how many carrots were really in a bushel so he went back the next day and asked the rabbit. mr rabbit told him the answer could be found at the bottom of the shooch well. off to fins such spoken of well of knowlede, kaul got lost in the meandering forest. while still lost in the forest he came across a flying carpet. the flying carpet had no words of wisdom to share but could dance a pretty nice jig. wait... what was this story supposed to be about ? ??

Special K said...

I declare this 'the end' so I think you can go ahead and look it up in the good ol' OED now.

Linus said...

did i bring this one down - to the point of ending it?

Pirate Jimmy said...

In one part OED says to "see 'Barbary,'" which says: "applied by the Arab geographers from ancient times to the natives of N. Africa, west and south of Egypt. According to some native lexicographers, of native origin, f. Arab. barbara ‘to talk noisily and confusedly’ (which is not derived from Gr. ); according to others, a foreign word, African, Egyptian, or perh. from Greek. The actual relations (if any) of the Arabic and Gr. words cannot be settled; but in European langs. Barbaria, Barbarie, Barbary, have from the first been treated as identical with L. barbaria, Byzantine Gr. land of barbarians: see sense 1.]"

Pirate Jimmy said...

When I look up the sense-development it says to see "barbarous," which says:
"preceded in use by the simple BARBAR(E, without suffix. The Gr. word had probably a primary reference to speech, and is compared with L. balbus stammering. The sense-development in ancient times was (with the Greeks) ‘foreign, non-Hellenic,’ later ‘outlandish, rude, brutal’; (with the Romans) ‘not Latin nor Greek,’ then ‘pertaining to those outside the Roman empire’; hence ‘uncivilized, uncultured,’ and later ‘non-Christian,’ whence ‘Saracen, heathen’; and generally ‘savage, rude, savagely cruel, inhuman.’ The later uses occur first in Eng., the L. and Gr. senses appearing only in translators or historians."

Pirate Jimmy said...

The above two quotes are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Pirate Jimmy said...

My interpretation of what all that crazy jargon above is saying is that I was mostly right, it was a reference to their language being gibberish.

Linus said...

maybe we should by pass - chaka, cause well, he died, and just start a new ask pirate brandon site.