Re: [tied] The "n" in ALAN

From: wtsdv
Message: 16824
Date: 2002-11-21

I always thought, but can't remember where I first got the idea,
that the '-an' in 'Alan' and the Ossetic suffix '-on' were from
the Indo-Iranian genit. plur. '-a:na:m'. Should I forget about


--- In cybalist@..., Piotr Gasiorowski <piotr.gasiorowski@...>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: george knysh
> To: cybalist@...
> 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.
> Piotr