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Etymological Dictionary of Arabic

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Click to Expand/Collapse OptionEtymArab
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burǧ بُرْج , pl. burūǧ , ʔabrāǧ
ID 065 • Sw – • BP 2615 • APD ... • Aut SG
tower – WehrCowan1979.
▪ Traditionally, the word is seen as one of only 17 words in the Q that, ultimately, are of Grk origin, cf., e.g., EALL (Gutas, »Greek Loanwords«): a loan from Syr būrgā that goes back to Grk πύργος pýrgos .
▪ Both the indigenous tradition and Rolland2015_BRǦ, however, do not see a need to derive the word from a foreign source; rather, they regard it as a specilisation developed from bariǧa (a , baraǧ ) ‘to be(come) apparent, manifest, conspicuous, high, elevated’ (Lane) or BRǦ ‘to deal a blow’ (Rolland).
eC7 1 (tower, castle) Q 4:78 ʔayna-mā takūnū yudriku-kum-u ’l-mawtu wa-law kuntum fī burūǧin mušayyadaẗin ‘wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you are inside lofty towers’, 2 (positions of the sun, moon and planets, constellations; signs of the zodiac) Q 15:16 wa-la-qad ǧaʕalnā fī ’l-samāʔi burūǧan wa-zayyannā-hā lil-nāẓirīna ‘We have set constellations up in the sky and made it beautiful for the beholders’. Cf. also 25:61 and 85:1 (all in the pl., burūǧ ).
▪ DRS 2 #BRG-4 Syr burgā ‘tour’; Ar burǧ ‘fortin’.
▪ R. Laffitte, SELEFA Séance 11/12/2014
▪ Jeffery1938: »The original meaning occurs in 4:78, but in the other passages it means the signs of the Zodiac, according to the general consensus of the Commentators, cf. as-Sijistānī, 63. – The philologers took the word to be from baraǧa ‘to appear’ (cf. Bayḍ. on 4:78; LA , iii: 33), but there can be little doubt that burūǧ represents the Grk pýrgos (Lat burgus ), used of the towers on a city wall, as e.g. in Homer Od , vi: 262: pólios ḕn perì pýrgos hypsēlós . The Lat burgus (see Guidi, Della Sede , 579) is apparently the source of the Syr būrgā 1 ‘turret’, and perhaps of the Rabbinic bwrgyn , bwrgn ‘resting place or station for travellers’.2 From this sense of ‘stations (for travellers)’ it is an easy transition to ‘stations (of the heavenly bodies)’, i.e. the Zodiac. Syr būrgā is indeed used for the ‘Zodiac’ (PSm , 475), but this is late and probably under the influence of Ar usage. – It is possible that the word occurs in the meaning of ‘tower’ in a SAr inscription (D. H. Müller in ZDMG , xxx: 688), but the reading is not certain.3 Ibn Durayd, 229, also mentions it as occurring as a personal name in the pre-Islamic period. The probabilities are that it was a military word introduced by the Romans into Syria and NArabia,4 whence it passed into the Aram dialects5 and thence to Arabia. It would have been borrowed in the sg. form burǧ from which an Ar pl. was then formed.«
▪ Rolland2015_BRǦ: »Une certaine tradition étymologique6 a effectivement cru voir dans burǧ ‘bastion, tour, fortin’ un emprunt au Grk πύργος [pýrgos ] ‘tour, enceinte garnie de tours’, via l’Aram burgā ‘id.’. La racine IndEur serait *bʰergʰ- ‘hauteur fortifiée’. La liste de probables apparentés ne se limite pas à ceux-là puisqu’on a également Hit parku- ‘haut’, Skr pur- et purî- , mPers borz ‘haut’, Kurd berz ‘haut’, Arm burg ‘pyramide’, Germ *burgs (Fr bourg , Sp burche , Engl borough , Ge Berg , etc.). Tous ces mots, dont la liste est loin d’être exhaustive, semblent bien être des cognats mais les filiations sont difficiles à établir.7 On a certainement construit un peu partout – dans le Moyen Orient et ailleurs – des forts sur des hauteurs naturelles depuis la plus haute Antiquité.« But all this is not necessary, the author finds.
▪ Gabal2012 I:101, who defines the basic meaning of the Ar root BRǦ as ‘appearance/emergence of intensely brilliant from the inside of a thing on its surface’ (burūz nāṣiʕin qawiyyin min bayni mā yaktanifu-hū fī ẓāhir al-šayʔ ), thinks that towers (of a city-wall, etc.) are called burūǧ because of the prominence, whiteness and height.
1. So Fraenkel, Fremdw , 235, against Freytag and Rodiger, who claim that it is a direct borrowing from [Grk] pýrgos . 2. But see the discussion Krauss, Griechische Lehnwörter , ii: 143. 3. Müller in WZKM , 1: 28. 4. Vollers in ZDMG , 51: 312. 5. The Arm bowrgn [sic!] came probably through the Aramaic also. Cf. Hübschmann, Arm. Gramm , i: 393; Brockelmann in ZDMG , 47: 2. 6. Voir notamment Jeffery1938: 78. 7. Dolgopolski2002#243 does not connect Ar burǧ < Grk pýrgos and the IndEur forms, but rather sees IndEur, Berb, Cush and Ar related; he puts together [Berb] Ahag burǵət ‘être soulevé, se soulever’, ETwl, Ty bъrgъt ‘être soulevé’, Ghad bəržēd ‘to stand up suddenly’,[Cush] Bj birga ‘high’, [EC] Or borgi ‘eminence, hill (Anhöhe, Hügel)’, adj. borgi ‘rising, eminent; erhaben, ansteigend’, Rn bū́r ‘big’, Som būr ‘mountain, bare-topped hill’, būran ‘stout’, būrān ‘stoutness’, [Sem] Gz √bgr (metath.) G of ‘to grow, become physically developed’, [...] and IndEur *bʰergʰ- ‘high’(>*bʰergʰ-os ‘mountain’, > nPers borz ‘height, tallness; tall’, oLat forctus , Lat fortis ‘strong’, Celt *brig- ‘hill, high’, Got baírgahei ‘Gebirgsgegend’, oNo bjarg , berg , Dan bjerg , nNo, Swed, oHGe, oSax berg , nHGe Berg ‘mountain’; oNo borg ‘a height; fortress, city’, Got baurgs ‘Stadt, Turm’, Du borg , borcht , oSax, oHGe burg ‘castle, town; stronghold’, nHGe Burg ‘fortress, stronghold, castle’; Slav *bergъ ‘bank, steep slope’, Cz břeh ‘Ufer, Rand’, Pol brzeg , Ru Ukr bereg ‘bank, coast, shore’; Hit parku- ‘high’, park- , parkiya- ‘to raise, rise’ – all from a hypothetical Nostr *biʔVrVgE ‘high, tall’.
See DISC above.
burǧ al-ḥamām, n., pigeon house, dovecot
burǧ al-miyāh, n., water tower

For other items of the root, see →BRǦ, →tabarraǧa , →bāriǧaẗ .
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