From: The Egyptian Chronicles
Message: 43301
Date: 2006-02-08

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Q. Which is the pronunciation of Arabic "q" in "qafa"

A.The initial letter "q" in Arabic is an emphatic voiceless uvular, I have taken the liberty to include a phonetic diagram of the morpheme to explain it. 

Q. If it is an Arabic loan we still have some strange evidence of how old this word is in Romanian and Albanian. 

Q. Could we check if this word is 'inherited' in Arabic or is an Old Greek or Turkish loan ?

A. The Arabic "qafa" is from Old Arabic and Classic Arabic (pre Islamic times). To my knowledge there is no trace of "qafa" in Greek. The question may be posed slightly differently: What are the first occurrences in the Rumanian and Albanian languages?  Can you provide such? Taking in consideration that any influence via the Turkish language did not come into play on the Balkan scene until the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Further, this is not an isolated case where a Classic Arabic term made its way into a European language (from the Indo-European group). I cannot give a better example of this transmission than its direct synonym  `unuq (`nq),  the Arabic term for "neck" found in the Germanic group, hnakki, hneccaand hnac in ON, OE and OHG respectively. See the Arabic definition and compare it to the Germanic group. Also the  Rum.: _nuca_ for cervix lit. "the neck." applied to various neck-like structures of the body, especially that of the uterus. )

The initial h, in many cases, can correspond to the sound of Arabic initial  `ayn (example in the term Hebrew for Arabic`briy). 

BTW, none of the terms "qafa, gyd and/or `nq" are found in any of the so-called Semitic languages. It is to be remembered that in the late 8thc the Arabs were already in direct contact with the Bulgars in the Balkan and the "Ruws" (Vikings) in the Volga region. (see Rislalah of Ibn Fadlan* below).   

Finally, you may take notice of the following assemblage of cognate correspondences:



*Although fragments of the Risalah were included in the Mugam` al-Bildan, the geographical dictionary completed by Yaquwtiy in Baghdad in 1228, it was not until the 19th century that Europeans got their first glimpse of Ibn Fadlan's accounts of his journey in their own languages. Scandinavian scholars knew of the letter by 1814; and in 1823, a German translation of excerpts from Yaquwtiy's dictionary appeared under the heading "Ruws." This was then translated into Norwegian in 1896, and into English in 1923.  However, the first known complete version of the Risalah was a manuscript, probably from the 11 th century in Mashhad, Persia, translated by Ahmad Zakiy Waliydiy Tuwgan (1890-1970).  A Bashkir Turkish scholar, proficient in several languages, he had studied medieval history in Vienna, and his dissertation covered Ibn Fadlan's Journey to the Northmen.  His German translation of the manuscript, entitled Ibn Fadlan's Reisebericht, was published in Leipzig in 1939.  Other authors followed, such as Robert P. Bake, Marcel Canard, Richard N. Frye and H. M. Smyser.


Best regard