Re: [tied] The "n" in ALAN

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 16789
Date: 2002-11-18

----- Original Message -----
From: george knysh
Sent: Monday, November 18, 2002 6:07 PM
Subject: [tied] The "n" in ALAN

> The term "Alan" is of course a variant of "Aryan", and the Ossetic version seems to be "Iron". What is the role played by the letter "n" here? I.e. if we have "Arya" which conveys the basic meaning of the concept (and would be "liquefied" as "Ala"), what does the "n" add?

Nothing much. The _phoneme_ /n/ here is part of a derivational suffix (*arya- 'of noble birth; Arya' --> *aryana-, *arya:na- 'Aryan'). Since adjectives can easily be converted into nouns ('an Aryan') or be derived from less complex adjectives, originally adjectival suffixes may come to appear almost or completely "useless"; so do diminutive suffixes and other morphemes with sufficiently non-specific functions. Cf. the near-synonymy of <arya->, <a:r(i)ya-> and <aryaka-> in Sanskrit or, for that matter, of <Arab>, <Arabian> and <Arabic> in English. Natural languages tolerate a lot of redundancy and collect morphological junk for no particular reason. It may be recycled if an opportunity presents itself or remain redundant forever, just like all those things that clutter our attics and garages.