Thursday, August 10, 2023

Hrach Martirosyan discuss etymologies of three musical terms in Armenian

 Hrach Martirosyan discuss etymologies of three musical terms in Armenian. One of them is quite famous because it has a parallel in non-IE Hattic language.

It's the word jnar (ջնար, meaning lyre, harp) which can be compared to Hattic zinar a type of musical instrument, lyre. The cuneiform z can stand for j also.
Similar words are attested in neighbouring languages also. The Greek word kithara is also probably from the same arealic origin.
But it's Armenian and Hattic that are specifically in palatalized form. One theory explained this by an unattested Luwian word from which supposedly Hattic borrowed. But given that this Luwian word is not attested that theory remains purely hypothetic. Here Martirosyan propose a different trajectory for this word. Armenian and Greek borrowed from the same substratic source. Later in Armenian the satemic shift transformed it into jnar and it ended up in Hattic.
Notice that the similar root in Hurrian is not palatalized kinnar. This Hurrian word is usually connected to a Semitic words with similar meaning. It's remarkable that this word is also found in Armenian in the form k'nar ( քնար ). Usually assumed to be a Semitic loanword.
Returning to jnar,I can't evaluate how likely is this theory, but one thing is certain: Hattic and Armenian haf a genuine lexical parallel that is accepted by many scholars.
Here the list of those terms in Wiktionary.

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