Origins of Fremen Names

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Origins of Fremen Names

Postby SandChigger » 26 Mar 2010 23:46

The other night I was playing around with the Arabic again and thought I might have happened upon a possible Arabic origin for the name of one of the major characters in Dune.

As you may know, most Arabic words contain a series of three consonants in a particular order (the "triliteral root") that signifies a more-or-less specific meaning. Various patterns of vowels are inserted around & between the root elements, and prefixes and suffixes added, to modify the meaning and create the individual words. So, for example, K-T-B has to do with "writing": KaTaBa al-KaaTiB KiTaaBan fi-maKTaB-u. "The writer wrote a book in his office."

Verbs also have a number of patterns for expressing distinctions in meaning like passive, reflexive, causative, etc. One of these, Form X, creates a verbal noun by prefixing isti- to the root with the first two literals clumped together and adding an aa before the last literal; so keeping with the examples above we get istiKTaaB "dictation" (=asking, requesting, or causing someone/thing to write). That initial i- is mainly there because Arabic words can't begin with two consonants, and it disappears when preceded by a word ending in a vowel; Frank Herbert didn't indicate vowel length in his Fremen Arabic, so we would end up with stiKTaB. See where I was headed? ;)

Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to find an Arabic root consisting of L-G-R. :(

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 27 Mar 2010 11:43

Neat, I didn't know any of that, thanks Chig. Really makes me want to learn more about Arabic.

Though I must say I assumed FH wanted to convey a sense of purpose with Stilgar's name, maybe I'm being over simplistic but I always heard "Still Guard"... yeah, porbably too simplistic for FH! :oops:
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby MrFlibble » 27 Mar 2010 14:00

SandChigger wrote:Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to find an Arabic root consisting of L-G-R. :(

Neither L-Ğ-R nor L-Ġ-R? (or [ġ] couldn't be rendered as [g] in English? :think: )
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby SandChigger » 27 Mar 2010 19:49

There's no G in Classical or Standard Arabic, but the Ğ (J) is pronounced as G in some dialects, like Egyptian. So L-J-R was the first thing I checked. FH was fairly consistent in going with the J version in his Fremen, though. He also kept Ġ (GH) unchanged so far as I can tell, but I checked that as well.

One obvious possible conclusion is that the word isn't Arabic in origin at all. ;)

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby TheDukester » 27 Mar 2010 20:15

It's funny to think about Hacky and Bobo attempting this level of research/background.

They'd punt after five minutes: "Hell with it; let's just make up shit that sounds like it might be Arabic." ... "Whatever you say, Kevin; you're the boss."
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby MrFlibble » 27 Mar 2010 20:22

SandChigger wrote: He also kept Ġ (GH) unchanged so far as I can tell, but I checked that as well.

Like in "Ghanima" right?

SandChigger wrote:One obvious possible conclusion is that the word isn't Arabic in origin at all. ;)

Could be. Or FH changed something, like he did with some other Arabic words.

BTW, have you looked into other names? I remember some like Bikouros or Bannerjee, not sure if they could be traced back to anything Arabic.

Oh, and one more question: what do you think about the word "sietch"? Khalid notes it is similar to "Seeq", the Arabic name for Petra (which makes a lot of sense). However, one of the Russian translators of Dune supposed this word might be related to the Ukrainian сiч (Russian сечь). This is also plausible, taking into account the free nature and warlike of the Fremen, akin to the Zaporozhian cossacks, and the fact that sietches were originally places of rest during a war.
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby SandChigger » 27 Mar 2010 20:45

I posted a blog just a few days back on bikouros, only spelled bicouros in the CoD passage I quoted, where it is used in its Arabic meaning of "missionary". FH wasn't against recycling material, evidently. ;) In Messiah, it's a personal name:
"You are the instrument I was taught to play," Bijaz said. "I am playing you. Let me tell you the names of the other traitors among the Naibs. They are Bikouros and Cahueit. There is Djedida, who was secretary to Korba. There is Abumojandis, the aide to Bannerjee. Even now, one of them could be sinking a blade into your Muad'dib."

Bikouros, Cahueit, and Djedida are all names taken from that Moroccan travelogue by R. B. Cunninghame Graham. Note that the other two also have uses in different senses in other books, like bicouros. When Jessica thinks of the Baron as a "cahueit of evil", it means "pimp", as in the original Arabic. And in CoD a djedida (derived from jadîd(a) "new") is a new town/settlement on Arrakis.

Abumojandis looks Arabic (Abu Mojandis "Father of Mojandis"?), but isn't Bannerjee an Indian name?

Something more to check into! :D

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby SandChigger » 27 Mar 2010 20:59

MrFlibble wrote:Oh, and one more question: what do you think about the word "sietch"? Khalid notes it is similar to "Seeq", the Arabic name for Petra (which makes a lot of sense). However, one of the Russian translators of Dune supposed this word might be related to the Ukrainian сiч (Russian сечь). This is also plausible, taking into account the free nature and warlike of the Fremen, akin to the Zaporozhian cossacks, and the fact that sietches were originally places of rest during a war.

Whoops, forgot about this! :P

Well, lacking access to FH's notes, which may or may not have anything to reveal about any of this, I guess anything's possible, but frankly I think Seeq to sietch is a bit of a leap. (Raising/fronting of Q to K and then changed to an affricate via palatalization KY as an immediate linguistic change? Or something that would naturally occur to FH?) As with Bene Gesserit, Khalid tries maybe a bit too hard to find an Arabic origin for words that need not have had one. Considering that FH explicitly states that sietch is a Chakobsa word, and that FH seems to have used Serbian (& Romany?) as the source for his Chakobsa, I think the Ukrainian word is a much more likely source than anything Arabic.

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby SandChigger » 28 Mar 2010 02:08

Found this online about Bannerjee, albeit with one 'n':
Indian (Bengal) and Bangladeshi: Hindu (Brahman) name, the first element of which, Ban-, is a shortened form of the village name Bandoghat. The final element -jee is derived from jhā (greatly reduced form of Sanskrit upādhyāya ‘teacher’); thus, Banerjee ‘teacher from the village of Bandoghat’. In Bengali names formed with -jee, the initial element is believed to indicate a village granted by Ballal Sen, a legendary ancient king of Bengal, to the ancestor of the person bearing the surname. A Sanskrit version of this name, Vandyopadhyaya, was coined later, from the elements vandya ‘venerable’ + upādhyāya ‘teacher’.


About Abumojandis, the mojandis part immediately reminded me of muhandis "architect, engineer, technician", derived from handasa "engineering". (There are a certain number of quadriliteral roots, many foreign borrowings, as well.) And guess what, boom, got it:
The husband, known as the "mojandis," that is, engineer to the Sultan, proves, when we meet him, to be a cheery polyglot blasphemer, charged with the erection of some forts at the entrance to the harbour of Rabat.

R. B. Cunninghame Graham, Mogreb-el-Acksa: A Journey in Morocco (p.15 of the 1985 Marlboro Press/Northwestern paperback). I suspect that Graham's use of J instead of H reflects a Spanish-spelling bias which also appears in his spelling of cahueit above. He specifically mentions the Spanish word derived from the Arabic:
They, less polite than he, called him "el Alcahuete," which word I leave in Spanish, merely premising (as North Britons say) that it is taken from the Arabic "el Cahueit," and that the celebrated "Celestina" was perhaps in modern times the finest specimen of the profession in any literature.(20-21)

The Spanish word means "pimp, pander" and the actual Arabic source word is qawwâd. (Which, oddly enough, is derived from the same root as caid (qa'îd), which DuneNovels was just Twittering about this morning.) Caheit is very likely little more than Graham's nonce spelling based on the Spanish word.

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby MrFlibble » 28 Mar 2010 19:27

SandChigger wrote:About Abumojandis, the mojandis part immediately reminded me of muhandis "architect, engineer, technician", derived from handasa "engineering". (There are a certain number of quadriliteral roots, many foreign borrowings, as well.) And guess what, boom, got it:
The husband, known as the "mojandis," that is, engineer to the Sultan, proves, when we meet him, to be a cheery polyglot blasphemer, charged with the erection of some forts at the entrance to the harbour of Rabat.

R. B. Cunninghame Graham, Mogreb-el-Acksa: A Journey in Morocco (p.15 of the 1985 Marlboro Press/Northwestern paperback). I suspect that Graham's use of J instead of H reflects a Spanish-spelling bias which also appears in his spelling of cahueit above.

Oh, I also thought that "mojandis" might be related to "Mohandis" (Tagir Mohandis from CoD), and remembered the Spanish use of J :)

SandChigger wrote:The Spanish word means "pimp, pander" and the actual Arabic source word is qawwâd. (Which, oddly enough, is derived from the same root as caid (qa'îd)

Interesting. What semantics does that root (Q-'-D?) have?
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby lotek » 28 Mar 2010 19:32

SandChigger wrote:I posted a blog just a few days back on bikouros, only spelled bicouros in the CoD passage I quoted, where it is used in its Arabic meaning of "missionary". FH wasn't against recycling material, evidently. ;) In Messiah, it's a personal name:
"You are the instrument I was taught to play," Bijaz said. "I am playing you. Let me tell you the names of the other traitors among the Naibs. They are Bikouros and Cahueit. There is Djedida, who was secretary to Korba. There is Abumojandis, the aide to Bannerjee. Even now, one of them could be sinking a blade into your Muad'dib."



isn't bicouros used in the expression "bicouros of shaitan"?
I can't remember which book it came from, was it CoD where someone calls Leto II that way(or he says that's what they'll call him?
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby SandChigger » 28 Mar 2010 23:40

:doh:

lotek ... LOOK at the blog: The Bicouros of Shaitan ;)

MrFlibble wrote:Oh, I also thought that "mojandis" might be related to "Mohandis" (Tagir Mohandis from CoD), and remembered the Spanish use of J :)

Cool. I'd forgotten about him! :)

Interesting. What semantics does that root (Q-'-D?) have?

Actually the root in this case is Q-W-D. W is called a "weak" letter and a root/verb with a weak letter in the middle is deemed "hollow". W changes to U or ' (hamza) or even Y in various forms of the conjugation & derivation. The root in Form I means "to lead, lead by a halter; to conduct, guide, engineer, steer; steer, drive (a vehicle), pilot (a plane); to pander, pimp." Form IV (causative) means "to cause (someone) to retaliate." Form VII (reflexive or passive), "to be led, be guided; to follow, obey (someone); to yield, submit (to someone)." Form VIII, "to lead, be led." And Form X, "to retaliate."

Example derivatives besides qa'îd and qawwâd include qaud "leadership", qawad "retaliation", qa'ûd "tractable, docile, amenable, mangeable; trained (horse)", qiyâd "leadership", miqwad "leading rope, rein, halter; steering mechanism; steering wheel" and inqiyâd "obedience, compliance, yielding, submission."

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby lotek » 29 Mar 2010 04:30

SandChigger wrote::doh:

lotek ... LOOK at the blog: The Bicouros of Shaitan ;)




ow crap I knew I was going to make a fool of myself but I posted last night before going to sleep and couldn't be bothered to check...

I should have known you would have known :)

(welll at least I remembered well :whistle: )
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby reverendmotherQ. » 30 Mar 2010 08:44

When Jessica thinks of the Baron as a "cahueit of evil", it means "pimp"

:lol:
You guys have me hooked on linguistic roots and derivatives. Keep posting. That's an order.

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby SandChigger » 30 Mar 2010 12:18

Strictly speaking, that's "pimp or pander of evil". ;)

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby inhuien » 30 Mar 2010 13:20

SandChigger wrote:Strictly speaking, that's "pimp or pander of evil". ;)
you mean this?

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby SandChigger » 30 Mar 2010 13:30

Eats, shoots, and leaves? ;)

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby inhuien » 30 Mar 2010 13:32

That's my idea of a fine evening. :)
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby lotek » 30 Mar 2010 14:43

SandChigger wrote:Eats, shoots, and leaves? ;)

that's a book isn't it?
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby TheDukester » 30 Mar 2010 16:29

SandChigger wrote:Eats, shoots, and leaves? ;)

Hey, I think I get that one!

http://tinyurl.com/yem9gqf
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby Orthodox » 30 Mar 2010 18:16

I read some of that from the link. Looks like a fun read.
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby MrFlibble » 31 Mar 2010 08:32

SandChigger wrote:
MrFlibble wrote:Oh, I also thought that "mojandis" might be related to "Mohandis" (Tagir Mohandis from CoD), and remembered the Spanish use of J :)

Cool. I'd forgotten about him! :)

The name Mohandis mentions in his song is also of interest: Coan-Teen, a demon spirit that walks without feet. I can only wonder what origin this one could have.

Palimbasha (a Fremen member of the conspiracy in CoD who taught math at Sietch Tabr) sounds Turkish to me, but I might very well be wrong. His fiancée (and fellow conspirator)'s name was Muriz (an original, unaltered Arabic name IIRC). Interestingly, Muriz is also the name of a young Iduali male in the same book, meaning this name could be used for both genders. I wonder if this is the case with its real Arabic counterpart :think:

SandChigger wrote:
Interesting. What semantics does that root (Q-'-D?) have?

Actually the root in this case is Q-W-D. W is called a "weak" letter and a root/verb with a weak letter in the middle is deemed "hollow". W changes to U or ' (hamza) or even Y in various forms of the conjugation & derivation. The root in Form I means "to lead, lead by a halter; to conduct, guide, engineer, steer; steer, drive (a vehicle), pilot (a plane); to pander, pimp." Form IV (causative) means "to cause (someone) to retaliate." Form VII (reflexive or passive), "to be led, be guided; to follow, obey (someone); to yield, submit (to someone)." Form VIII, "to lead, be led." And Form X, "to retaliate."

Example derivatives besides qa'îd and qawwâd include qaud "leadership", qawad "retaliation", qa'ûd "tractable, docile, amenable, mangeable; trained (horse)", qiyâd "leadership", miqwad "leading rope, rein, halter; steering mechanism; steering wheel" and inqiyâd "obedience, compliance, yielding, submission."

Heh, my knowledge of Arabic is generally pretty limited :) Looks like the main semantic fields for this root are that of 'leadership' and 'retaliation', the latter probably arising because military leadership was one of the primary meanings. 'Pimp' and 'pander' are pretty specific compared to the rest of the semantic cluster for the derivatives of this root, but I guess the motivation for this nomination can be more of less clearly explained.
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby SandChigger » 30 Apr 2010 22:58

On the basis of the G in gom jabbar having apparently derived from original Q, I've had a look about for a L-Q-R root, but still no joy. :(

Need to get back to this thread! :)

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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby MrFlibble » 02 May 2010 20:46

Your inquiry into the origin of gom jabbar is very interesting. I wonder what other books could be found that FH used as sources for his Arabic words and other elements in Dune.

BTW, here's one more thing, from Children:
Muriz brought the ornithopter in over Shuloch with a practiced ease. Leto, seated beside him, felt the armed presence of Behaleth behind them. Everything went on trust now and the narrow thread of his vision to which he clung. If that failed, Allahu akbahr. Sometimes one had to submit to a greater order.

I'm interested in Allahu akbahr - is that correct? I thought "bahr" means 'sea' in Arabic?
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Re: Origins of Fremen Names

Postby SandChigger » 02 May 2010 22:04

Yep, bahr (MSA baḥr) does mean "sea". (As in bahr bela ma, the "sea without water" or desert. :) ) But that's not really relevant here, since akbar is the comparative of kabir (MSA kabîr), "great, large". (Root: K-B-R)

This is another FH goof, I'm afraid. Inserting an 'h' there makes about as much sense as moving the apostrophe (to an unpronounceable position) in muad'dib (should be mu'addib). :roll:

If we were creating a Fremen conlang (wink wink ;) ), we'd either have to ignore that example or declare it an idiosyncratic change or possibly call it a dialectal variation. :?

One other option: since it's Leto thinking it to himself, not speaking it aloud, we could even call it something from Other Memory, from a time when Arabic was changing and the traditional morphological system breaking down. ;)

(Note that I accept the necessity of and assume something like the Dune Encyclopedia account of the Fremen Reverend Mothers exercising an influence on the language of the people and bringing it back closer to something like the modern Terran varieties of Arabic.)


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