Why did Old Armenian change -ա to -այ (-a to -aj)?

I know nothing about Armenian, Old or New, apart from vosp, ’cause I like lentil soup.

I stared for half an hour at:

I think I have the answer.

Old Armenian does not have nouns whose nominatives end in a vowel. So the a-declension, those nouns that in Latin and Greek ended in -a, end in a consonant. Greek gynē corresponds to OArm kin. It seems that final unstressed vowels were systematically chopped off in Proto-Armenian.

So, if a Greek word like plateia comes into Armenian (via Syriac plāṭīā), “square, public street”, Old Armenian could not deal with it as a nominative: it wouldn’t fit the patterns. (I don’t know how are supposed to work when your plural ending is -kʿ: I mean, sg.nom. azg, pl.nom azgkʿ ? Seriously?)

In Old Armenian, plāṭīā ends up as połotay.

Account #1. To make it fit, the word has to end in a consonant. Chopping off the vowels wouldn’t work well, you’d end up with plat, which doesn’t sound close enough to plāṭīā. So the safe thing to do is to add a consonant to the foreign word. And –y is the best consonant to add, because it’s a glide: the result still has a similar syllable structure to the original.

I see that Greek hylē is borrowed as հիւղէ (hiwłē). But Wiktionary also notes the variants hiłeay hiwł and hiwłay, so there was a strong trend to go with -ay.

Account #2. But it may be that this is just a trick of orthography. Lauer & Carriere say that final –ay is pronounced –ā. So this could just be that plāṭīā was pronounced połotā in Armenian, and –ay was how Armenian wrote down the new-fangled long final a.

In any case, this looks like stuff internal to Armenian.

Again, this is all extrapolated guesswork from a couple of sketch grammars.

What sort of crime was punished by Scaphism?

You’ve linked to (and read) the English language Wikipedia article in the Question Details. From the English and German Wikipedia articles, we actually don’t know anything else about scaphism: it was described once in Plutarch, and then recapitulated in Eunapius and Zonaras, Byzantine sources. We don’t even know if it was something the Persians actually did, or something Ctesias (the source Plutarch likely cited) made up as a tall tale.

We know that the incident Plutarch cited was the murder of Mithridates (soldier) for killing Artaxerxes II of Persia’s brother Cyrus the Younger (even though Mithridates killed Cyrus accidentally, while the Cyrus was fighting to depose Artaxerxes). Given how spectacular the execution was, it’s reasonable to assume that, if real, it was reserved for the crime the king found most offensive: regicide (or at least, murder of a member of the royal family). Regicide does tend to attract spectacular executions, as occurred in France—and indeed, post mortem punishment, as occurred with Cromwell.

What is a cool way to say “friends” or “group of friends” or “small circle” in other ways or languages?

Parea παρέα in Greek. Cool because it’s the only word in Greek with an Iberian origin. It comes from either Ladino parea or Catalan parella, cognate with Spanish pareja.

The Catalan derivation is probably too good to be true: it refers to the Catalan Company, mercenaries who ran bits of Greece (including Athens) in the 14th century. The parea is a social group of people who hang out together, including having coffee or entertainment together; it would be cute to derive the word from marauding bands of mercenaries, terrorising the countryside of Attica.

What do Greeks think of Italians and Italy?

Half of Greece (the islands) was a colonial outpost for various Italian republics—mostly Venice and Genoa. But that was a very, very long time ago, and Greeks have forgotten that, for example, Cretan villagers welcomed the Ottomans as relief from Venetian feudalism. What was left behind was significant cultural transmission from Italy to Greece: a lot of vocabulary, and some material culture, again particularly in the islands.

For example,

Crete is famous for its small cheese or herb pies, called Kalitsounia. They resemble a common cheese or stuffed pie with the principal difference of its filling and serving variations.

I only worked out last year where the word comes from.

Calzone. And, Wikipedia tells me, Calisson.

So there is cultural familiarity. There’s some shared vocabulary. There’s physical similarities. And as Konstantinos Konstantinides points out, there’s no recent border hostilities, apart from WWII. (And when Griko-speaking Italians were part of the occupying forces, Greeks were delighted to meet them: “You can’t be fascisti! You’re our brothers!”)

Is it correct that neither “worthy” or “able”, are not so valid translations, as acclamation of a new Emperor or Patriarch,like the Greek word Aξιος ?

As Dimitrios Michmizos says, “worthy” is the best translation; “worthy” is not about one’s worth, “valuable”, but about one’s merit. It certainly isn’t idiomatic in English as an acclamation, though.

Konstantinos Konstantinides points to the added gloss “deserved”; and while it is not a common expression in English, you will occasionally see the exclamation “Well deserved!”

Seth’s Blog: “Well deserved”

“Congratulations” is fine for winning the lottery, but “well deserved” is reserved for people who put in the effort and the time and took the risk to get somewhere.

Is Hebrew erabon,equal to αρραβωνας and Paul’s phrase,Cor.II,I,22″Give us arravon of spirit”means “give us new covenant, pledge with the holy spirit”?

Bauer’s Lexicon defines ἀρραβών as “payment of part of a purchase price in advance; first installment, deposit, down payment, pledge”. In time, the meaning has shifted to the kind of pledge associated with marriage: a betrothal, an engagement.

(Greeks, please do not cite Ancient words with Modern inflections. It’s just confusing to those not as blessed as you to speak Modern Greek.)

The word actually entered Greek in the classical era; it is used by the Attic orators like Isaeus and Antiphon; so it would likeliest have come in from Phoenecian, not Hebrew. Liddell-Scott does indeed cite the Hebrew as ’ērābōn.

And that word is 6162. עֲרָבוֹן (erabon) — a pledge .

How is Hopkins’ “No Worst, There Is None” a Christian poem?

I get that it’s a poem by a Christian, that it mentions feeling abandoned by God and the Virgin Mary, that it alludes to God-in-the-Whirlwind from Job in the context of enduring fury and desperation, and that religion is shown as a temporary respite in the end.

But that doesn’t sound like a poem encapsulating Christianity (Michael Masiello’s answer to How can I stop hating religions and God?); it sounds like a poem written by a Christian, having a crisis of faith in Christianity.


Does the word “painted”, in Greek vamenos, mean that the person has fanaticism or rancor or both?

Fanaticism. A “dyed” Olympiakos supporter (βαμμένος Ολυμπιακός) is a die-hard Olympiakos fan, not an embittered Olympiakos fan. From the Triantafyllidis dictionary:

Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής

3. (μππ.) φανατισμένος οπαδός (πολιτικής παράταξης, ποδοσφαιρικής ομάδας κ.ά.): Είναι βαμμένος αριστερός / φασίστας / Ολυμπιακός.

Fanatical supporter (of a political party, a football team, etc): he’s a ‘dyed’ left-winger/fascist/Olympiakos [fan].

A ‘dyed’ fascist might also be rancorous because their ideology is not getting through; but you can certainly be a ‘dyed’ support when your party is in government, or your team is winning the championship.

EDIT: the expression is also in English: a dyed-in-the-wool Liverpool fan.