Slavomír Čéplö aka bulbul writes on Facebook:

Some more good stuff from the Dragoman book: p. 161-162 contains a reference to a book titled Peregrinations written by a certain Jean Palerne and published in Lyon in 1606. Among other things, it contains a glossary of useful terms (p. 522 onwards) in French, Italian, vernacular Greek, Turkish, Arabic and Slavic. Not all columns are filled and so the first Slavic term we get is “Maistre – Maestro – X – X – Gospodaro” and of the useful phrases towards the end, we only get “Caco stoite” (< “Kako stojite”) as the equivalent of “Come state” (p. 540-541).

The true value of the book lies in the final page, p. (5)554, which contains two lists of insults (“inivres”), one in Turkish (apparently addressed to Christians) and one in Arabic, both with French equivalents. Some are familiar (“giaour”, “quiopec” < “köpek”, quelb”), the rest, less so. I, for one, would love to have the whole list explained and annotated. Stephen, maybe if we engage the Hatters?

It took me a minute to figure out that “inivres” = “injures.” (You can run into it in early English texts as well; from Langford’s Meditations of Ghostly Exercise in Time of Mass: “See now that yow lykwysse forgyff all Inivres . displeasures . wronges and occasyons . for the Lowe of hym that thus meikly and mercefully Dyd forgyff hys trespasurs.”) At any rate, it’s an interesting challenge; what, for instance, is “brequiday” ‘cuckold’?


  1. Oh, and happy new year, everyone!


    # gidi (1533), kiday (?) (1584) – 1533 gidi (ghidí) ‘beccho, homo’ (ArgAd. 188, ArgR. 106); 1584 (bre) kiday [perhaps contaminated with → 801. geday] (brequiday) ‘cornu’ (PalPD. 554); 1611 gidi (ghidí) ‘cornuto, ingiuria’ (FerrR. 87); 1641 gidi (ghidi) ‘becco di moglie, cornuto’ (MolDitt. 70); 1672 gidi (gidi) ‘significat talem virum, qui & ipse, cum uxore adultera, adulter est, & non solùm sciens ac volens tali cohabitat mulieri, verùm etiam aliis venalem habet’ (HarsColl. 417); 1677 gidi (ghidi) ‘becco di moglie’ (MascVoc. 21). Phr. – 1622 (bre) gidi gaurı (Pregidi Gauri) ‘jhr vnglaubige Hund’ (WennStach. 600); 1633 gidi gaur (gidy gaur) ‘obrzydły, ohydny giaur (niewierny)’ (S. Twardowski: StachSHET. 198–199). • < Pers. gīdī ‘stupid, blockhead’ (TETTL 2: 154). – N. 209 (XV); P. (–). #

  3. Happy new year !

    You can look forward to reading the Graeber/Wengrow book, it’s instructive.

  4. It was another year, wasn’t it? I have learnt recently that German TV shows A dinner for one sketch for every new year. I don’t find it hilariously funny, but it’s ok. Going by stereotypes, English humor that Germans may appreciate (my appologies to both nations). It is fitting for this year especially, with its refrain “Same procedure as last year?” and the reply that is nothing short of terrifying.

  5. Happy new year to one and all!

    @Stu: That 1672 definition suggests a translation as “pimp” rather than “cuckold”, thus corresponding to the common Arabic insult gawwād. The connotations of “pimp” in modern English seem more ambiguous, oddly enough.

    The other two Moorish insults don’t look Arabic to me at all – probably just bad transcription, but maybe they could be Lingua Franca?

  6. Einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr!

  7. I have always been a bit puzzled by the first line of “The Cask of Amontillado“:*

    The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.

    Montressor evidently draws some distinction between injuries and insults, which I have never seen properly explicated. Indeed, I have found that people disagree as to whether there is really a difference (rather than Montressor being an irrational psychopath**) and, if there is a difference, which of the two is more serious. The phrase “add insult to injury” has long been associated with Aesop’s fable of “The Bald Man and the Fly,” although there seems to be plenty of disagreement about what the moral of that narrative even is.

    * I grew up with this two-record set of Poe stories. The sleeve artwork, front and rear, covers each of the stories included, approximately according to their respective lengths. The image of Fortunato at the very bottom was, for me, the scariest-looking element.

    ** My ninth-grade English teacher really insisted that the key to the story was another line from the first paragraph:

    It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

    He insisted that this meant that Montressor is obsessed with Fortunato being punished and, equally importantly, knowing why he is being punished. A line from the last paragraph:

    My heart grew sick — on account of the dampness of the catacombs.

    would then indicate that Montressor’s scheme has ultimately been a failure, since Fortunato does not seem to understand why he is being murdered. That is not risible as an interpretation of the story, but I certainly do not think that that is the only way to frame and interpret Poe’s dark tale.

  8. John Emerson says

    My guess is that “injury” is all kinds of objectively harmful things – taking advantage, excessive demands, failure to pay, underpayment, misappropriation, rudeness, incosiderateness, etc., but that insult is deliberately humiliating someone in public in an unmistakable way.

  9. David Marjanović says

    That’s my understanding, too; I interpret “adding insult to injury” in the light of wer den Schaden hat, braucht für den Spott nicht zu sorgen “if you suffer from whatever damage or disadvantage, you don’t need to do anything to suffer from ridicule on top of that, it’ll come automatically”, equating Schaden “damage” with injury as “objectively harmful” and Spott “ridicule” with insult as “Nelson ha ha”.

  10. David Eddyshaw says

    Bareka nɛ ya yʋʋmpaalig, yanam banɛ dɔlli Azupibig la wʋsa!

  11. David Marjanović says

    …as I always say.

  12. Brett: John Emerson:

    I’m along the same lines.

    Injury is a private offense, like borrowing money and not paying it back. No one else might ever know about that. But insult is some kind of public humiliation. Montressor can put up with the first, but not the second.

    Fortunato is one of those self-centred people who doesn’t even realize when he is humiliating other people with one of his off-the-cuff witticisms that cut deep with the target. He will never realize the cause of his slow death because he is oblivious to the result of his actions.

    I think it might be a situation that Poe could identify with from his own life. Maybe a bit of revenge fantasy?

    Just extrapolating from what I know about Poe’s life…

    When I was young, my mother was a librarian, and she, lacking anything else to do with me when she had to work, would take me into the university library. There I read all sorts of what was probably very inappropriate material (The Dean’s Wife: “There’s a little boy in the stacks reading Freud!”), but I remember Poe more than most. When I was a bit older I went back and read his poems as well.

  13. maidhc: We’re thinking along the same lines but I wanted to comment on this:

    >> Fortunato is one of those self-centred people who doesn’t even realize when he is humiliating other people with one of his off-the-cuff witticisms that cut deep with the target. He will never realize the cause of his slow death because he is oblivious to the result of his actions.

    Most sociopathic people are generally aware of the effect of their actions on the emotions of other people, they just lack empathy (in a very technical meaning). Self-centred people who don’t realize the results of their actions also exist, of course, plenty of them, but the two groups are not congruent. Fortunato* is probably of the second group, because he does not link insult to injury as you have defined them. Sociopathic people tend to, when in a position of power. They combine injury with insult deliberately. Not always, but it comes easier to them than non-sociopathic people in similar situations.

    *I can’t be sure, I have only read one of Poe’s poems and nothing else of him, AFAICR.

  14. Stu Clayton says

    Fortunato added insult to injury. Montresor plays him for a fool, and then walls him up to die – to insult adding mortal injury.

    I’m with Brett’s ninth-grade English teacher on this one. It’s a tale of a passive-aggressive homme moyen sensuel. Si monumentum requires, spic alibi.

  15. Stu Clayton says


  16. I really need to read that to get some context.

  17. Stu Clayton says
  18. Hadn’t read that story in years — what fun!

  19. From Irina Dumitrescu’s LRB review of Voices and Books in the English Renaissance: A New History of Reading by Jennifer Richards and Learning Languages in Early Modern England by John Gallagher: “In Sex Linguarum, a polyglot manual from the Continent, readers could find lumped together the Latin for ‘heathen’, ‘a Turk’, ‘Saracens’, ‘a heretic’ and ‘a sodomite’; translations into five modern tongues were also supplied.”

  20. The semi-opaque “inivres” reminds me of (to repeat myself) the original title page of a Marlowe play: THE IEVV OF MALTA.

  21. J_Pystynen says

    Happy new year, hyvää uutta vuotta!

    Incidentally it looks like (Nth try…) all comments I post with my usual email and website are getting spamfiltered; Hat, any chance you can check for these?

  22. Incidentally it looks like (Nth try…) all comments I post with my usual email and website are getting spamfiltered; Hat, any chance you can check for these?

    Wow, there were a bunch of them, going back a couple of weeks. I’ve freed them all, but the earlier ones may not get seen by many people. Next time let me know as soon as it starts happening!

  23. David Marjanović says

    Whoa. Where was that printed?

    Also interesting: the lack of apostrophe in ‘s (both times).

  24. David Marjanović says

    I’ve freed them all, but the earlier ones may not get seen by many people. will show us them all the next time it doesn’t prefer to provide us with 503 errors (“no server is available to handle this request”).

    Edit: …actually, no, probably not unless the freed comments happen to be at the very end of the thread.

  25. “Printed by I. B. for Nicholas Vavaſour, and are to be ſold at his Shop in the Inner-Temple, neere the Church. 1633.”

    I. B. is, aptly, John Beale

  26. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Putting ‘theatre’ not just on a new line but in a new section like that makes the king look a bit like a whale, with the play in his belly.

  27. at his Shop in the Inner-Temple, neere the Church.
    They knew how to give adresses back then.

  28. The Inner Temple is a very specific place in the City of London.
    I know, hilarious.

  29. @V: I know. I still found it funny.

  30. Me too.

  31. Me three.

  32. Jen in Edinburgh says

    And the Temple church is a specific part of the Inner Temple.

    But it’s still quite easy to read it the other way round – ‘how do I find this Inner Temple? Oh, I know, I need to look near THE church!’

  33. I am away from the library on the road, but here is a preliminary interpretation of the list in Republican Turkish:

    1. maquereau = godoş
    2. crevé = karabaş? karavaş?
    3. moindre qu’une putain = rospinin (oruspunun)
    4. chien = köpek
    5. cornu = bre gidi
    6. bardache = rencil
    7. menteur = yalancı
    8. fils de putain = bre kapı oğlan(ı)?
    9. infidelle = gâvur
    10. juif = bre çıfıt
    11. Tu as menti = yalan söyler

    Some notes:

    1. Now usually godoş, the variant kodoş is still sometimes encountered. Ottoman here. The lack of distinction between /ş/ and /s/ is stereotypical feature of the Greek pronunciation of Turkish.

    2. This is a puzzle. I am not sure what the Middle French means exactly here. I mostly hear karabaş (literally, “black head”) as “cur, village dog, shepherd’s dog” (invariably with a fawn coat, yellow with a black mask). There is a variant karavaş that seems to have meant “slave girl, bondwoman” (cariye) and also “unlucky person, person destined to misfortune”. (Dogs are theme here; see 4.)

    3. Orospu “whore” has variants like rospi, rospu, reflecting the original Persian
    rūspī. I suspect the expression in our list is short for something like orospunun çocuğu “whore’s son” or orospunun (gidisi) “whore’s (pimp)”. The phrase bre rospinin gidisi! “thou whore’s ponce!” is apparently actually attested in Ottoman administrative/legal texts.

    4. I am just surprised it is not it “cur”.

    5. Bre “hey, yo” (whatever its origin) is alive and well today, as is gidi, which nowadays I mostly hear in the common phrase hey gidi günler “Those were the days…” (speaking of one’s youth, pop music one enjoyed,” nightlife in the city…). Gidi “ponce, wittol, pimp”
    has been mentioned earlier in the thread, and is said to be from Persian. Steingass’ Persian dictionary defines Persian gīdī as “stupid, a blockhead; idiotic; timid, cowardly”. But Dehkhoda’s dictionary says basically means “unmanly, without concern for the honor and reputation of his household (especially in regard to the women)”. Mo’īn’s dictionary defines it as “ponce, man who lives off his wife’s earning as a prostitute, pimp”. I am away from the library now so I haven’t been able to find out more about the origin of this word.

    6. This should be Ottoman رنجل (from Redhouse’s 1890 dictionary). It looks like a derivative of Persian رنج ranj “pain, trouble, affliction, disease”. (But this final element -il in a noun here is puzzling. A similar suffix is found in a few more or less onomatopoeic words, like çakıl “gravel, grit, pebbles”, tombul “chubby, plump, rounded”, but such a formation would be out of place here. Perhaps influenced somehow by رذيل rezil, “mean, vile, worthless, rascal, blackguard”?) I don’t know if this fact is related, but apparently piles (haemorrhoids) were called ibne renci “the disease of (passive) pederasty”.

    7. The noun yalancı “liar” is derived from yalan “lie”. Mere aphaeresis here in spoken use as an epithet? I am also wondering about the date of the development of lan, the coarse appellative mostly used by males to address another male (contraction of oğlan, “boy”), and whether that could have influenced how Europeans interpreted what they heard in yalancı.

    8. This is a puzzle. The word oğlan means “boy” but also “catamite, male who submits to men for their sexual gratification”. A kapı oğlanı “door boy, gate boy” was a very low-ranking kind of male servant, an apprentice footman or the like.

    9. Still in popular use today.

    10. Modern Republican Turkish çıfıt, from Ottoman çıfūt. More on Ottoman çıfūt at the Wiktionary.

    11. The Turkish literally means, “He lies”, 3rd person. To translate the French, I would have expected Yalan söylersin or Yalan söyledin.)

    I hope to improve these once I get to the library. Apologies for any formatting errors or unclarity. This comment will undoubted be eaten by the spam filter initially.

  34. Thanks Stu, I needed that. x

  35. I am away from the library on the road, but here is a preliminary interpretation of the list in Republican Turkish

    Wow! If you can do that while away from the library, it’s frightening to think what you can accomplish with all guns blazing. Thanks!

  36. Andrej Bjelaković says

    Of the 11 Xerîb mentions the following can still be found in Serbian:

    3. rospija
    9. kaur(in) (archaic in Serbian, not sure about Croatian)
    10. čifut/čivut (old-fashioned antisemitic slur, still used by some far-righters)

  37. Happy new year, y’all!


    awesome, thank you so much!

    The lack of distinction between /ş/ and /s/ is stereotypical feature of the Greek pronunciation of Turkish.
    Interesting! The dragoman book that gave rise to this post notes that many of these early manuals of (Ottoman) Turkish were based on Rumelian varieties of Turkish.

    čifut/čivut (old-fashioned antisemitic slur, still used by some far-righters)
    Oh so that’s what that drunk Serbian guy yelled at the cops the other day in my neighborhood!

  38. PlasticPaddy says

    @Lameen, Xerib
    Masaa al khair => Messel cael
    Sabah al khair => Soubal cael
    hhamsa => canisa/canise

    Part of this is his orthography (use of c for various consonants–maybe he even heard “k” for these). From his Slavic I can see there are also occasional printing errors (e.g. *[PHI/V]tornig => Ottoring, *Nediella => Nequiella).
    So maybe for the “cul” part of the obscene phrase خوخة => coccou
    and for méchant مرفوض => Marfossa.

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