Re: [tied] berbery, barberry

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 16296
Date: 2002-10-16

No need to scan what is probably a misprint. To be absolutely sure,
we'd have to check a good edition of Apuleius, but that's hardly
necessary. The Dacian name in question has variants like <probedula
[Dioscurides], propodila, propedula, procedila>; the last of these,
with what seems to be a dissimilation of p..p.. -> p..k.., could
easily end up as <procila>, even through the accidental omission of
two letters by a scribe. My main point is, however, that whatever
Apuleius wrote he can't have meant the barberry or any plant similar
to it. His reference to the creeping cinquefoil, _Potentilla
reptans_, is absolutely unambiguous.

Names of medicinal plants are notorious for being prone to borrowing
_and_ to folkloristic distortion. Among the numerous names of the
cinquefoil (most of them conteining the numeral "5" for obvious
reasons, cf. early Eng. fyflef 'five-leaf' or Pol. pie,ciornik from
<pie,c'> '5') we have not only Gaul. pempedula (Dioscurides),
pompedulon (and similar) = pempe-dula- 'five-leaved' (cf. Welsh
dalen 'leaf'), but also Mediaeval wanderworts like quintefoil ~
cinquefoil (< Lat. quinquefolium) or pentafilon, pentadactulus (< Gk.
pentaphyllon 'five-leaved', pentadactylon 'five-fingered'). Either or
both of these Greek names (there were more such, e.g. <pentatomos>
and <pentakoinon>) were folk-etymologised as a new Latin word
<potentilla>, which now serves as the systematic botanical name of
the cinquefoil genus. Still more curiously, <cinquefoil> was also
transformed (perhaps jocularly) into <swynestayle> 'swine's-tail' in
England, in more or less the same way in which <asparagus> becomes

The compound <propedila> surely meant something to the Dacians (which
is the whole point about folk etymology -- you reanalyse a foreign
word in terms of familiar elements), but we can't be sure what
exactly for want of a Dacian dictionary. However, its form
(p..p..d..l..) was quite evidently inspired by Gaul. pempedula.



--- In cybalist@..., alexmoeller@... wrote:

> if you are right, I have to read some of my books indeed with
> much solt:-)But for glasses, I will scan the passage for you
> Just to demonstrate still I do not need glasses:-)
> And procila = propedila, being a " distortion" I dubt. . pe=ci
> ?And propedila a distort form of gaulisch pompedilum?
> I very doubt. We have a lot of dacian words which and in
> "-la". How can you argue it is a distorse form of gallic word?
> Just with your sardonic smile?
> I remember that the one you are talking about " propedila" is
> another plant . This is in latin "Potentila reptans" and not
> "Berberis viris". Do I make a mistake?