At the end of last year I posted about Patrick the etymologist’s blog odamaki; he went silent for a while, but now he’s back and celebrating Nowruz (the Iranian New Year) with a new post about the etymology of risk:
One of the more interesting etymologies which I researched for the fifth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary was for the word risk. The fourth edition of the dictionary had simply said from [French risque, from Italian risco, rischio.] I found the lack of a further etymology for the Italian very irritating. The OED3 had not yet put its new etymological discussion for risk online at the time, so I went to the Zanichelli etymological dictionary of Italian and found that the word wasn’t a dead end—many interesting proposal had been made about the origin of the Italian word.
He traces it back to Syriac ruziqā, of Middle Iranian origin: “the first element, rōz-, is the Middle Persian word for ‘day.’ The reflex of the same word in the modern Persian of western Iran is ruz روز ‘day’— as in nowruz!” It’s a wonderful account of an amazing peregrination, and I urge you to read the details. He concludes:
The transmission of Syriac ruziqā to Arabic as rizq and thence into Greek is an interesting reminder of the political situation in Southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region just before the advent of Islam. Ghassanid Christian Arabs, allies with Byzantium, ruled Syria and Palestine, while Lakhmid Christian Arabs, allies of the Sassanian Empire, ruled southern Iraq. In such a context, I suppose, that a word could move from Iran to Greece on partly in the mouths of mercenaries. The Syriac word ruziqā, by the way, has a counterpart in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic רוֹזׅיקָא, roziqā, in which the original o vowel is still evident.
And Paul, who sent me the link, tossed in another to the Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature by Marcus Jastrow (1926) to go with the reference to Jewish Babylonian Aramaic at the end of the post. Enjoy!