From the Book:
The origins of the Kurds and their language
Taufiq Wahby (1891-1984)
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Casting further doubt on the development of Kurdish from Median, Dr. MacKenzie next writes: “It is worth noticing in passing that Kurdish does not accord with one peculiarity which may be ascribable to Median, that is to say, the development of ‘hw-’ to ‘f-’.
This peculiarity of ‘hw-˃ f-’ is found only in the word ‘farnah’ as it appears in the Median personal name. Vindafarnah, an aide of Darius in his recapture of the Axamaenid throne (521 BC). Median ‘farnah’ is derived from Avestic ‘xvarenah’ (splendid, glory).
The name of a hero in Arbil in the 4th C. AD was composed with ‘far’. This hero was surnamed ‘Qardâgh’ (Kardak). According to Aramaic Christian records his proper name was ‘Gupar-Ashnaps’, a metathesis of *‘Par-Gushnasp’, an Aramaic pronunciation of Median name *‘Far-Gushnasp’ (the glory of Gushnasp), meaning (the glory of the god ‘Varhrân’ or ‘Bahrâm’) whose surname means either (hero) or (Kurd), he converted to Christianity and was martyred in 359 AD.
In the New Persian, there are two synonym words ‘xurra’ and ‘farr(a)’ (glory). The second one is inherited from the Median. In Kurdish we have ‘fař’ and not ‘xura’: but we have a word ‘wura’ (moral) which seems to have developed like the Persian ‘xurra’ from the Avestic ‘hvarenah’: ‘hw-˃w-’.
It should not, of course, be expected of Kurdish that it preserves such a peculiarity with rare exceptions lost in all the other non-Persian dialects. The exceptions are found in a village in Fars and in two small villages in the central desert of Iran.
In the Bâdînânî (a sub-dialect of the Northern Kermânjî) in Iraqi Kurdistan, however, there are places where the people say ‘fâren’ instead of ‘xâren’ (to eat). In the Northern Kermânjî and also in Hawrâmî ‘âfer’ is used rather than ‘Axur’ (manger, stable). In the South Kermânjî we have ‘fênek’ (cool) as compared with the Persian ‘xunuk’. and other words which show ‘x-˃f-’.
Today the word ‘far’ is used in Kurdish as well as in Persian. In its colloquial Kurdish use it is always in a compound indicating the absence of the quality it represents, as in English ‘couth’ is used in uncouth. In the Mukrî dialect, however, ‘far’ is found in the compound adjective ‘bad-far’. ’Bad-far’ is exact modern Kurdish for ‘dush-hvarenah’ meaning inglorious or villainous.
To illustrate his placing of Kurdish. Dr. MacKenzie has designed a diagram derived from a table of Iranian dialects compiled by the philologist Tedesco. Dr. MacKenzie, in describing the diagrams says. “Here again, Kurdish seems to be marked oil’ from Median if we can judge from the name of the Median capital. The Greek forms ‘Αγβατανα’ ‘Εκβατανα’, and the old Persian Ha(n) gmatâna are generally taken to contain the same ‘-gmata-’ form, not found in Kurdish”.
Let us consider these two alternative forms. From the Avestic ‘-gat-’ and ‘-gmat-’ Kurdish has kept the form *‘agat’, to use in conjugating as in ‘haten’ the verb (to come). In Persian ‘to come’ is ‘amadan’, which uses the other form *‘agmat’ in the conjugation. Dr. MacKenzie secs this as an indication that Kurdish is not closely related to Median, because Kurdish does not use ‘-gmat’ while Persian does. But Kurdish, in fact, does have a conjugated verb using this form which in its original gives ‘Hangmatâna’ (the modern Hamadân).
It is a verb found in Northern Kermânjî in the transitive form ‘hingâvten’ and in the intransitive form ‘hingivten’. In other Kermânjî dialects, it is intransitive ‘angûten’ and the transitive ‘angâwten’.
Perhaps Dr, McKenzie has seen the northern forms given in Jaba’s Dictionnaire Kurde-Français. But Jaba’s etymology is incorrect. Jaba writes that the verb ‘hingivten’ is formed from the same root as ‘katen’ (kaften) ‘to fall’. But I am convinced that the verb originates from ‘hangmata-’ with the ‘m’ developed into a ‘v’ and ‘w’.
‘Angâwten’ means (hit a mark, to score), or literally, (to bring together). In southern Kurdish there is a synonym for ‘angawten’ which is ‘pêkan’. This new word seems to be composed of ‘pa-yak-dân’ which strictly means (to bring together), (to strike together), but in practice means (to hit the mark).
‘Augûten’ (hîngivten). an intransitive verb universal in Kermânjî and meaning to stumble, is even nearer to original ‘hangmat-’. Significantly, this verb and transitive ‘angâwten’ do not exist in either Persian or Hawrâmî. But ‘angâwten’ is found in Parthian. The Parthian verb is ‘angawdan’, meaning (to end) or (terminate).
Another two Kurdish words derived similarly from ‘hangma-’: ‘âkâm’ (end, conclusion) anti ‘anjâma’ (hinge), indicate a relationship with the North-West dialects.
Dr. MacKenzie suggests another characteristic which would align Kurdish with Persian while distancing it from Parthian. This is the use of izâfa in Kurdish and middle Persian but not Parthian. However, to argue from this that Kurdish is closer to the middle Persian than to Parthian is fallacious, because the izâfa, which is also used in Zâzâ. Gorânî and other central dialects, derives from the Avestic relative pronoun ‘ya’, feminine ‘yâ’. Kurdish which follows Avestic in using this word also as relative pronoun is not responsible for the lost of izâfa in Parthian. The Kermânjî dialects of Kirmanshah, Sena. Karkuk Province and even the Jâfs have already dropped the izâfa after nouns ending in consonants.
Dr. MacKenzie again sees Kurdish as influenced by Middle Persian in the development of the original Iranian initial ‘dw-’ to ‘d-’. This view is also unconvincing. The development appears also in Baluchî as well as in Persian. Its development in these three languages has two similar sources: 1. ‘du-’ of the Middle Persian. 2. ‘du-’ of the younger Avesta.
If ‘d-’ of the new Persian is taken as a development of the ‘du-’ of the middle Persian, why cannot the ‘d-’ of Kurdish and Baluchî be derived from the Avestic ‘du-’? Neither Kurdish nor Baluchî in this development arc influenced by middle Persian. I wish to recall here Tedesco’s words which I should have mentioned earlier: “Entwicklungen können immer unabhängig voneinander bloss parallel sein”.
Tedesco, pointing to the North-Western word for milk, ‘shift’ observes that the South-Western word is ‘shîr’ and that ‘shir’ is the word used in Kurdish. Dr. MacKenzie takes this as another mean to align Kurdish with middle Persian. But the ‘shîr’ is not used only in Kermânjî and Baluchî, it is used also in Gahwârayî and Bâjalânî which are Gorânî dialects and in the Central dialects such as Farîzandî, Natanzî, Yarnî, Shahmîrzâdî, as well as Gîlakî.
It is seen in the Ossetic in the form of ‘axshîr’, and closer to the original form, in the Pâmîr dialect Munjî, ‘xshîr’. On the other hand, in the Kirmanshahî Kermânjî (milk) is ‘shefta’, The form ‘shîr’ in Kurdish may be a borrowing from new Persian or not, ‘shift’ continues to be found in Kermânjî in a few words such as ‘shûti’ meaning (watermelon) and ‘sheft-a-jê’ (a perennially fertile woman).