Paisa.

Alexander Jabbari, an assistant professor of Persian language and literature, examines the spread of a word I personally hadn’t given much thought to:

[…] But one currency that expresses the shared past of an entire continent is the Omani rial, which is divided into baisa, a Hindi/Urdu loanword (paisa) with roots in Sanskrit. The word paisa, in fact, is spread all over the Indian Ocean world, from Myanmar to Mauritius and nearly everywhere in between.

I first noticed this word while reading the Egyptian author Sonallah Ibrahim’s novel Warda, about the Dhofar Rebellion in Oman. It’s more common to find Arabic loanwords in Hindi and Urdu than the reverse; Hindustani – the umbrella term linguists use to cover both Hindi and Urdu – uses thousands of Arabic words, which entered the language through Persian. These include everyday vocabulary like insan (person) or dunya (world).

But a word like baisa in Omani Arabic is no surprise. Like many Arabic dialects of the Gulf, it features loanwords from Hindustani, Persian, English, Portuguese, Swahili and other languages, revealing the linguistic routes of the Indian Ocean. In this case, paisa became baisa because Arabic generally lacks the “p” sound. […]

The cities of the Gulf have long been closely linked to India through trade. In 1835, Muscat’s currency was pegged to the Indian rupee (rupiya, or in Arabic rubiya), which is subdivided into paise (the plural of paisa). […] The legacy of the paisa – which goes back to Sanskrit padamsa, a “quarter part” – stretches beyond Indian-Gulf trade. The first element of the Sanskrit word is also the source of the name of Thailand’s currency, the baht. Today, in South Asia, in addition to being one hundredth of a rupee, paisa just means “money”. The word exists all over India (from north to south), Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and even the Maldives and Burma.

Afghanistan also used a rupee subdivided into paise in the 19th century. Though the afghani was established as the national currency in 1926 (which is why many Afghans don’t like to be called “Afghanis”), Afghan Persian and Pashto still use the word paisa to mean “money”.

Paisa also made its way around East Africa, leaving traces in Mauritius, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and elsewhere. The word, or terms derived from it, still means “money” in many of the languages of the region, like Swahili (where it is spelled pesa). The money transfer service M-Pesa, first launched in Kenya, is named for mobile pesa, punning on its similarity to mapesa, the Swahili plural for “money”. […]

Today, half a century after the rupee ceased to be an official currency in Gulf countries, you can still hear its echoes in colloquial Arabic. Older Bahrainis and Omanis might refer to rubiyat, and in some Gulf dialects bayza (or its plural bayzat) connotes “money”. More recently, pidgin forms of Arabic have sprung up, facilitating communication between local employers and migrant workers.

I don’t think there actually is a “Sanskrit padamsa” — I can’t find it in my Sanskrit dictionary, and the OED s.v. paisa says “< Hindi paisā, Bengali paisā […] probably < Sanskrit pāda quarter […] + aṃśa quarter-fraction” — but in general it’s more accurate than one expects from a newspaper piece about language. You can see more descendants of the Hindi/Urdu word at Wiktionary, including Burmese ပိုက်ဆံ (puikhcam) and Mauritian Creole paisa (where’s our resident Martian, anyway?). Thanks, Trevor!

Comments

  1. January First-of-May says

    For some reason I thought that it was somehow related to the peso; but apparently there’s no relation. British India spelled it “pice” in their traditionally merciless spell-everything-as-if-it-was-English way.

    The general history of South and Central Asian currency names will probably be quite interesting. For starters, there’s the tangka (etymology uncertain, possibly related to “tamgha”; cf. “mark”), which apparently gave its name both to the Kazakhstani tenge (which I knew) and the Bangladeshi taka (which I didn’t), as well as (probably) the Russian word for “money”.

  2. pice

    I was pleasantly surprised, when looking up the Indian English syce ‘horse groom’, that it was not only nearly homophonous with Hebrew סַיָּס sayyās, but was also a borrowing (via Hindi) of the cognate Arabic word, with the same meaning.

  3. David Marjanović says

    In 1835, Muscat’s currency was pegged to the Indian rupee

    I would not have guessed.

  4. Yes, british ruled arabia was generally subject to the rules applicable to the jewel in the crown – India.

    Eg. The currency was Indian, and the rulers were part of the indian gun salute system.

  5. thought that it was somehow related to the peso

    Peso is related to pound instead.

  6. J.W. Brewer says

    To show the wide radiation of British India as a standard-setter, wikipedia confirms that in German East Africa (now the more mainlandish part of Tanzania) “The [Deutsch-Ostafrikanische] Rupie was initially equivalent to the Indian rupee. Until 1904, it was subdivided into 64 Pesa (equivalent to the Indian pice or paisa). The currency was decimalized on 28 February 1904, with 1 Rupie = 100 Heller. At the same time, a fixed exchange rate of 15 Rupien = 20 German Mark was established.”

  7. John Emerson says

    As Kant pointed out, 100 real reales are worth the same amount as 100 imaginary reales.

  8. @January First-of-May
    That British spelling of “pice” surprised me, because the native-English-speaker in me would pronounce that rhyming with “nice”. But I learned paisa (पैसा) as the Hindi word for “money” as a general term, pronounced as a word that rhymes with “mesa”.

  9. The general history of South and Central Asian currency names will probably be quite interesting.

    I discovered this (and “paisa”) when I was trying to understand Afanasy Nikitin’s words for currencies.

    Bangladesh – as I understand, back then Bengal economy was cowrie-based rather than silver-based, but they minted ta[n]ka too. I wonder when it changed. Wikipedia has about neighbouring Orissa: “In Orissa, India, cowry (popularly known as kaudi) was used as currency until 1805 when it was abolished by the British East India Company and rupee was enforced. This was one of the causes of the Paik Rebellion in 1817.

  10. That British spelling of “pice” surprised me, because the native-English-speaker in me would pronounce that rhyming with “nice”. But I learned paisa (पैसा) as the Hindi word for “money” as a general term, pronounced as a word that rhymes with “mesa”.

    A similar case is the name of the birds called mynah (or myna) in English (birds of the family Sturnidae often kept as caged birds for their ability to mimic the human voice, including the common mynah Acridotheres tristis and the hill mynah Gracula religiosa). This word too shows up in English with a diphthong /aɪ/ beside the Standard Hindi मैना, Urdu مینا‎ with the pronunciation /mɛːnɑː/. However, the Hindi-Urdu word comes from Middle Indo-Aryan mayaṇā “mynah”, apparently from Sanskrit madana- “a species of bird” (perhaps a mynah). In the history of this word, the intervocalic consonant weakening, development of a glide, collapse into a diphthong, and subsequent monophthongization seem parallel to the development of Hindi-Urdu पैसा پیسہ paisā from Old Indic *padāṁśa-.

    The English words were doubtless borrowed from Modern Indo-Aryan languages in which the early Modern Indo-Aryan diphthongs ai and au (arising from consonant weakening in Middle Indic or inherited from Old Indic) were not monophthongized, or alternatively, they were borrowed at a time before the diphthongs were monophthongized in those dialects which now have monophthongs. This monophthongization is typical of the Hindustani variety that later became the basis of standard Hindi and Urdu.

    Even today there are dialects of Western Hindi, and languages belonging to what is loosely talked about as “Eastern Hindi” group, such as Awadhi, that have a diphthongal pronunciation of ऐ (اَے ) and औ (اَو) as /ʌɪ/ and /ʌʊ/ or /ɐɪ/ or /ɐʊ/, rather than the /ɛː/ and /ɔː/, or /æː/ and /ɔː/, typical of the standard. Here is the Wikipedia on the topic:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Indo-Aryan_languages#Comparison

    To go by the OED, both pice and mynah first appear in English in the accounts of visitors to India in the early 17th century, before the Hindustani of Delhi eclipsed the other varieties of the Central Indo-Aryan group (Awadhi, Braj Bhasha, etc.) in prestige. Perhaps the monophthongization typical of standard Hindi and Urdu now had also not progressed as far at the time.

    (Addendum: We can suspect Sanskrit madana- “a kind of bird” of being related to mádana- “passion, love”, from the root mad- “to rejoice, exult, delight in, revel in, be drunk”. The OED has a suggestion that the bird name is a shortening of the compound madanasārikā, literally meaning “love mynah” from mádana- “passion; love” and śārikā, sārikā (fem.) “mynah” (of some sort) and śalākā. There is also a madanaśalākā “mynah” (of some sort), formed with śalākā, which usually means “stick, twig” but in this case seems to be just a variant of śārikā “mynah”. I wonder where the OED’s suggestion is from.)

  11. An Anna (Hindustani आना ānā) was a currency unit formerly used in India, equal to 1/16 rupee. It was subdivided into 4 Paise or 12 Pies (thus there were 64 paise in a rupee and 192 pies). The term belonged to the Muslim monetary system. The Anna is not commonly used since India decimalised its currency in 1957.

    A bit strange from a modern perspective to have a currency based on binary fractions. Nowadays we have all gone decimal, but the old British system was kind of duodecimal.

    So a paise is ¼ anna, that’s where the quarter comes from. So it’s 1/64 rupee. It kind of depends how much a rupee is worth whether a paise is worth anything, much less a pie.

    The immediate precursor of the rupee is the rūpiya—the silver coin weighing 178 grains minted in northern India by first Sher Shah Suri during his brief rule between 1540 and 1545 and adopted and standardized later by the Mughal Empire.

    Historically, the rupee was a silver coin. This had severe consequences in the nineteenth century when the strongest economies in the world were on the gold standard (that is, paper linked to gold). The discovery of large quantities of silver in the United States and several European colonies caused the panic of 1873 which resulted in a decline in the value of silver relative to gold, devaluing India’s standard currency. This event was known as “the fall of the rupee.” In Britain the Long Depression resulted in bankruptcies, escalating unemployment, a halt in public works, and a major trade slump that lasted until 1897.

    Referring to the Comstock Lode?

    Story is complicated, including use in the Gulf States.–Indian rupee.

  12. David Marjanović says

    Pie! 🙂

    Sturnidae

    I wouldn’t have guessed they’re that close to starlings!

  13. “So a paise is ¼ anna, that’s where the quarter comes from”

    It has been reported that much like other majestic rulers, Sultan Firoz Shah (1351–1388 ad) too issued coins of various type. Thus [were struck] gold and silver tankas . . . [and coins up to] one jital. After striking these many varieties of coins the thought crossed Firoz Shah’s august mind that if poor people bought something from the market and a balance (baqi) in half or quarter jital was left of the amount paid, the shopkeeper would not have the quarter change (khurda). If the buyer let it go he would lose money. If he demanded it from the shopkeeper how could he be paid when no such coin existed? In the end, the balance due to the buyer would be left with the shopkeeper. For these reasons, the transaction between the buyer and the seller would drag unnecessarily. Sultan Firoz Shah gave orders for the striking of a half jital coin called adh (lit. half ) and a quarter jital coin called paika.

    From Najaf Haider, Fractional Pieces and Non-Metallic Monies in Medieval India (1200–1750)
    in Monies, Markets, and Finance in East Asia, 1600–1900 (p. 90)

    And further from Shams Siraj Afif, Tarikh i Firozshahi, ed. by Vilayat Husain (Calcutta: Asiatic Society, 1891), p. 344.

  14. Oops. I did not notice. It is paika!

    Could /k/ correspond to /s/ ?

  15. David Eddyshaw says

    The languages of the old AOF (French West Africa) count francs in fives, so that (for example) the 100-franc piece I have in front of me is actually called a pisi “twenty” in Mooré. I gather this is because there were five francs to a Maria Theresa thaler, the only proper coin.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Theresa_thaler

    However, the actual word for “money” in West Africa is usually the same word as “cowries.”

    For the rich in the old Brit domains, the useful unit is the “sack” (Hausa jaka, Kusaal yɔlʋg), meaning £100. Latterly in Ghana, this meant 100 Ghanaian cedis, which does not make you quite so rich.

  16. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.

    William Jennings Bryan (1896)

    No doubt the Americans among you learned this at elementary school, but others may not know it.

  17. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    For the rich in the old Brit domains, the useful unit is the “sack” (Hausa jaka, Kusaal yɔlʋg), meaning £100. Latterly in Ghana, this meant 100 Ghanaian cedis, which does not make you quite so rich.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been a billionaire, but for a while I was a millionaire (in Chilean pesos).

  18. the early 17th century, before the Hindustani of Delhi eclipsed the other varieties of the Central Indo-Aryan group (Awadhi, Braj Bhasha, etc.) in prestige.

    Hindustani at LH. I see the Amrit Rai book, which I continue to recommend, is now listed by Amazon at $317.99. In a few years it will be nearly unaffordable!

  19. J.W. Brewer says

    The “quarter” etymology for paisa is strikingly analogous to the English “farthing.” Back before WW1, an Indian silver rupee was worth* just a tiny bit more than two silver shillings (= 24 pence, = 96 farthings) in UK currency, so a paisa was worth about 1.5 farthings. (In U.S. currency of the same time a rupee was worth* just under 48 cents (a U.S. silver quarter being worth about 7.5% more than a U.K. silver shilling), so a paisa was worth about 0.75 cents.)

    *”worth” on a silver-to-silver basis. That the gold-to-silver ratio was not uniform worldwide created all sorts of arbitrage opportunities and resultant distortions, as referenced somewhere upthread. [Edited to add: there are also slightly different ways to calculate the conversion to U.S. silver, because for administrative reasons a silver quarter did not have a full 25% of the silver of a silver dollar but approximately 23.4%.]

  20. Possibly 1/4 ana is secondary. E.g. the same author: Silver fractions became predominant with the influx of silver in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. When the silver rupee began to be minted in large quantities it displaced copper and billon coins in most high value transactions. Gradually, the silver fractions penetrated the lower level of exchange. In the second half of the sixteenth century, when 48 copper paisas were exchanged for a rupee, each ana was worth 3 paisas. With wide fluctuations in the bi-metallic ratio, the exchange rate of the rupee was permanently fixed at 40 in official transactions, and the ana was fixed at 2.5 paisas.

  21. January First-of-May says

    The languages of the old AOF (French West Africa) count francs in fives

    …thus the last two remaining countries that continue to use non-decimal subdivisions of their currency – Madagascar (1 ariary = 5 iraimbilanja) and Mauritania (1 ouguiya = 5 khoums). In both cases the subunit used to be a franc, and the main unit is five francs.

    (Madagascar is of course not in West Africa, and Mauritania only marginally so, but both used to be French colonies.)

    I gather this is because there were five francs to a Maria Theresa thaler, the only proper coin.

    Probably, though the 5 franc denomination was also the most common at home (in the Latin Monetary Union). IIRC 19th century French silver coins under 5 francs are a lot scarcer, and often even more expensive, than the 5 franc coins.

  22. I don’t think I’ve ever been a billionaire, but for a while I was a millionaire (in Chilean pesos).

    If Ne Win continued his experiments instead of resigning after intoducing 45 and 90 kyat and withdrawing 25/35/75, we could have a word more interesting than “billionaire”:(

  23. J.W. Brewer says

    While a five-franc piece (back in the LMU days) was roughly the value of a Maria Theresa thaler, the equivalence was not exact. The thaler’s content of fine silver was based on one of a variety of competing traditional/medieval German systems of weights, whereas the franc was all new and rational and based on the Jacobin metric system. The rationalists then unsurprisingly took advantage of rationalization to round down rather than up, such that the MT thaler was worth about 5.2 francs. (The old Spanish dollar and its Mexican successor, common in trade in other parts of the world, were in turn a bit more than that, at least in theory.)

  24. J.W. Brewer says

    Looking at the world’s major (by aggregate GDP size) economies, it looks like Indonesia may currently be the easiest place to become a (rupiah-denominated) billionaire, at least if ones fuzzy/arbitrary definition of “major” excludes Iran. Of course it’s only been 16 years since Turkey revalued its currency by saying 1 of the new edition was worth a million of the old.

  25. a quarter jital coin called paika… Could /k/ correspond to /s/ ?

    I suspect that paika is just a different formation belonging to the family of Middle Indic pāya “quarter”, from Old Indic pā́da- “foot, a fourth part”. Most often intervocalic -k- in Hindi reflects Middle Indic -kk-. Could it be built directly to the earlier equivalent of Hindustani पाई پائی pāī “a small copper coin; the fourth part of an anna”?

    The jītal also showed up a while ago in the LH discussion of the passage in Nikitin’s text on the price of prostitutes. Coins with this name were issued by the Chagatai Khanate, too, I gather. What is the etymology of this word? I am dying to know. I wonder if it is a Middle Mongol cidal. Here is the definition for Mongolian cidal given by Lessing: “ability, capability, power; talent, gift; possibility; affluence, prosperity”. This looks like a derivative of cida-, “to be able” with the deverbal nominal suffix -l. (Cf. English means?)

    There is an interesting philological note on the word paika as it occurs in the Tārīḵ-i Fīrōzšāhī here, under the entry for pie:

    https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.104131/page/n41/mode/1up

    Here is the relevant page in the edition drasvi mentions:

    https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.334474/page/n160/mode/1up

    Is the reading of this edition بيكه ⟨bykh⟩ or پيكه ⟨pykh⟩? I don’t really see any dots under the initial ٮ letter. (It’s the last word at the the end of the third line of the main text up from the bottom.) Maybe the scan is bad, or the editor just left it out? The reading بيكه has generated a ghost word bikh that still persists in the numismatic discussion today, I gather.

  26. Ghanaian cedis

    Is the further etymology of Twi pέsεwa “one hundredth of a cedi” known? As far as I have been able to learn, -wa could be a diminutive suffix here. That leaves a pέsε- that reminds one of Portuguese peça “piece”, and also of Spanish pesa and peso “weight”, but what do I know?

  27. I suspect that paika is just a different formation belonging to the family of Middle Indic pāya “quarter”, from Old Indic pā́da- “foot, a fourth part”.

    I suspected something like that, but if I know only little about Persian, I know almost nothing about Indic. I did not notice this -k- at first, because the author himself referred to it as paisa.

    pā́da- “foot, a fourth part”.

    An unexpected concidence is Paika Rebellion in a quote from Wikipedia above.

  28. ktschwarz says

    drasvi said: if I know only little about Persian, I know almost nothing about Indic.

    Classic example of what was called a clickbait conditional a while back at Language Hat. Since you’re not a native speaker, were you taught this construction, or did you pick it up from reading? A similar example from Robinson Crusoe, discussed by Jespersen and other linguists: “I made a suit of clothes wholly of those skins … I must not omit to acknowledge that they were wretchedly made; for if I was a bad carpenter, I was a worse tailor.”

  29. Russian пай (reads: pie) meaning share (like in partnership) derives, according to Wiktionary, from Turkic; no details are given. Reflexes with the meaning of part exist in many Turkic languages and in Turkish it means also numerator. No connection to any other languages is given.

  30. 1822 Academic Dictionary has several references to пай as share of possession or value, section, but also as luck, chance (now obsolete, but clearly attesting to the antiquity of the word). However пайка as food ration, probably cognate, isn’t there yet.

  31. David Eddyshaw says

    Is the further etymology of Twi pέsεwa “one hundredth of a cedi” known?

    Christaller’s 1881 dictionary glosses it “a penny worth of gold dust”, and cites pέsεwa-bo “the dark blue seed of a leguminous plant used for the smallest gold-weight”, but presumably the plant is named after the weight rather than vice versa. There doesn’t seem to be any very obvious etymology for the word in Twi itself.

    A good few Portuguese loanwords turn up in Twi, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that the word could be a loan from peso, for example.

    Prof Kropp Dakubu didn’t include that in her list of Gold Coast Portuguese words, but she did have the Spanish pieza “piece.”

    https://www.ajol.info/index.php/gjl/article/download/86778/76574/0

  32. John Emerson says

    In Chinese bèi 貝, now rarely an independent word, is the graphic classifier for money and things of value and seems to have originally meant a cowry shell. Per Schuessler, the OC pronunciation of this word was pâts. This is highly suggestive in terms of the above.

  33. However пайка as food ration, probably cognate, isn’t there yet.

    It is there, under паек. The editors just took “alphabetical order” too far. Instead of having a headword and then listing all words obviously derived from it in the same entry, they gave each word its own entry and one has to search around for all related items.

  34. By the way, similarily sounding word паять (to solder) is apparently from a completely different source, though it’s meaning is kinda close. Etymology given in the link makes little sense to me. It comes, they say following Vasmer, from the Old Russian word for forging though the word for forging in modern Russian is completely different one, with PIE pedegree and meaning to beat with variants in all cognates. While паять has cognates in Slavic languages with the meanings of joining together. What’s the what?

  35. I only recently learned that Kabyle has an /ai/ in it, not an /i/. It is English spelling adopted into French and accordingly mispronounced, including by those English speakers who assume the spelling comes originally from French.

  36. Well, most Algerians speaking English pronounce it /kɑbil/, let alone everyone else. It was certainly originally intended by Thomas Shaw to be pronounced /kəbɑɪl/, in accordance with its original form (qbayəl) but I think it’s a lost cause by now.

  37. pέsεwa-bo “the dark blue seed of a leguminous plant used for the smallest gold-weight”

    The plant seems to be Rhynchosia brunnea and/or Rhynchosia pychnostachya.

    https://plants.jstor.org/stable/10.5555/al.ap.upwta.3_707

    R. pychnostachya, at least, has blue seeds, as apparently do several other members of Rhynchosia.

    I will restrain myself trying to put pέsε- and Greek πίσος “pea” together.

  38. It was certainly originally intended by Thomas Shaw to be pronounced /kəbɑɪl/, in accordance with its original form (qbayəl) but I think it’s a lost cause by now.

    I say it that way! But then I’m apparently the last living English speaker to say “pacey” for pace.

  39. David Eddyshaw says

    “pacey”

    No, me too (while I’m spared.)
    But then, I even say “vicey versa.”

    I suppose that if I were really teh hardcorez I’d say “vicey versay”, to show that I knew it was Ablative Absolute. But I lack the necessary force of personality (same reason as I am too wimpy to set Pachuco Cadaver as my ringtone.)

  40. Fast and bulbous! I had forgotten you were a fellow Beefheart fan.

  41. Ah, I see we had this exchange four years ago.

  42. Lars Mathiesen says

    audi, cerne, tace, si vis cum vivere pace. That’s the first entry for the term in the Danish dictionary of foreign terms. Pace as a pseudo-preposition is not there, so it probably doesn’t have a normative pronunciation to be Solœite about. (I thought there was a verb in there, but it seems not).

  43. David Eddyshaw says

    audi, cerne, tace, si vis cum vivere pace

    Cine tace merge-n pace, as we say in Transylvania.

  44. @David Eddyshaw: Really, really teh hardcorez would be wicey wersay.

  45. Has anyone ever pronounced Latin like that? The anglicizers use /v/ for v.

  46. @languagehat: Probably not, but I don’t see why that should be a problem for a special “hardcorez” achievement.

  47. I think teh hardcorez comez in two flavorz: Erasmian (/ˈwike ˈwersaː/) and Old Oxbridge (/ˌvʌɪsᵻ ˈvəːseɪ/, extra points for spelling it vice versâ). You can’t mix and match any more than with cricket and baseball.

  48. Just spotted vice versâ in a passage I was going to quote for Xerîb (how do hardcorez say “Xerîb”?).
    It also has Hindūstān.

  49. how do hardcorez say “Xerîb”?

    There is some variation among the Kurdish languages. In Mardin, you won’t go wrong with something like [ʁæˈɾib]. In some varieties of Kurmanji, the /ʁ/ phoneme (which mostly occurs in loanwords, from Arabic غ /ʁ/ and earlier Turkish ğ [ʁ]) has fallen together with the phoneme /χ/ as /χ/.

    Listen to the first words in these songs by
    Ahmet Aslan (from Xozat near Dersim),
    Mahmut Baran (also from Xozat),
    Roni Artin (from Mardin—some nice glimpses of the streets of Mardin in that video). And here is Fuad Ahmad (from around Erbil, singing in the Gorani genre).

    Here is the Wiktionary entry for the Kurmanji word. It’s a loanword from Arabic. The word has a great poetic resonance… In Turkish it appears as garip.

  50. Russian пай (reads: pie) meaning share (like in partnership) derives, according to Wiktionary, from Turkic; no details are given.

    For the curious, who may find Sevan Nişanyan’s online etymological dictionary of Turkish hard to navigate, here is Nişanyan’s take on a proposed etymology of the Turkish pay “lot, share, portion, ration” from Persian pāy پاى “foot”:

    Farsça sözcüğün zengin anlam yelpazesine “hisse, porsiyon” anlamı dahil değildir. Türkçe anlam, muhtemelen pay-ā-pay “adım adım, sırayla” gibi paylaşım yöntemi ifade eden bir deyimden türemiş olmalıdır. Rus pay (a.a.) bir Türk dilinden alınmış olmalıdır. Kırg pay, Yak paay biçimleri Rusça kaynaklı olabilir.

    The rich range of meanings of the Persian word does not include the meaning “share, portion”. The Turkish meaning probably derives from an idiom expressing a method of sharing, such as pay-ā-pay “step by step, in order”. Russian пай (“share”) must be from a Turkic language. The forms Kirgiz pay, Yakut paay, are possibly of Russian origin.

    You can also find varations of a different proposal out there, but still of Iranian origin. (R. G. Akhmetyanov, in the entry for пай in his Tatar Etymological Dictionary of 2015 takes Tatar пай as a borrowing from Oghuz and Uyghur Turkic varieties, as far as I can gather.) Turkish pay would somehow be from the Iranian family of Gathic Avestan baga-, Young Avestan baγa- “portion”, etc. New Persian baxš بخش , Middle Persian baxš “lot, part, portion”, all ultimately from Indo-Iranian *bʰag- “to divide, distribute, allot, share”. (The same family of Iranian words was possibly the source of Tocharian A pāk and Toch. B pāke “part, portion”.) I don’t have any more details to share about this proposal at the moment. It seems nebulous to me.

    A Chinese origin has also been proposed by Räsänen, in his Versuch eines etymologischen Wörterbuchs der Türksprachen, p. 378: “< chin. pʿai”. Unfortunately, he is not more specific about the etymon… 派 ?

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E6%B4%BE

    There is also a similar-sounding New Persian بوى bōy, būy “part, portion”, but this is apparently from Turkic and is a particular development of the word that appears in Turkish as boy, “stature, size, extent”, from Proto-Turkic *bod.

  51. Wow, it’s great having an etymologist on board — thanks for that!

    The word has a great poetic resonance… In Turkish it appears as garip.

    I think I first learned it from Ashik Kerib (აშიკ-ქერიბი ‘strange ashik‘).

  52. The jītal also showed up a while ago in the LH discussion of the passage in Nikitin’s text on the price of prostitutes. Coins with this name were issued by the Chagatai Khanate, too, I gather. What is the etymology of this word?

    @Xerîb, I saw in a Russian text “from Arabic”, hesitated between raising my eyebrow and furrowing the other and did nothing:/ Now I tried to find something about it and …nothing, only this old excerpt:

    The origin of the ierm jital is obscure. Some light may perhaps be thrown on it by a small anonymous copper coin which has recently come to light. It came from the Kurram valley and bears the legends ‘jītal yagānī‘ and ‘ẓarb Akarmān‘ in what appear to be early seventh century ᴀ.ʜ. characters. There is also some reason on palaeographical grounds for doubting the assignation of the ‘jītal yagānī‘ figured as No. 207 in the Chronicles, to the time of Muḥammad bin Tughluq.[1] In type as well as script this coin appears to belong to an earlier period. The possibility is indicated that the jītal was the unit of the copper currency in the frontier regions and that the name was introduced by the Muḥammadans and applied by them to the unitary coins they found current in Hindūstān, viz. the Dehlīwāls. When Īltutmish laid the foundations of a fresh coinage with a tankah of 96 ratīs, the Dehlīwāls had become too firmly established as current coin to be ignored and had to be incorporated into the new currency, their weight of 32 ratīs readily falling into the revised scheme.

    (on archive, vice versâ is below in the same page:)). Elsewhere he says “North-West frontier”.

    But it is old. For ‘jital’ 207 from The Chronicles of the Pathán Kings Of Delhi by Edward Thomas we have a drawing.
    حٮٮل with 2 dots below and 2 dots above and diacritics. Like جَڹْڹِلْ .

    Thomas interprets the inscription as جَيْتِلْ , jaitil.

  53. The footnote [1] above is “See p. 170.” and p. 170 has:

    Two coins (Nos. 647 and 647 A) of unusual interest have been assigned to this reign though not bearing Muḥammad’s name and not dated. Both are denominated jītals. One (No. 647 A) — which was included by Thomas in his list of forced tokens (Chron., p. 252, No. 207) — calls itself jītal yagānī and on the reverse in conjunction with yagānī is a word which Thomas read as امانى and translated as ‘ the equivalent of’. This coin which is of copper and weighs 74 grains is now in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin. The other coin (No. 647) weighs 50 grains and is entitled jītal dūgānī. The dūgānī here too is associated with another word similar to that on No. 647 A. But it is clear that the word is not امانى but امامى. This affords a clue to its approximate date, and the result is confirmed by the lettering which bears a striking resemblance to that of the Khalifa Al-Mustakfi issues Nos. 621 and 623. The open گا in particular is quite distinctive of this period, and the use of the word is appropriate enough on a Khalifa coin.

    (p. 170)

    The photograph of No. 647 is of terrible quality and Wright made an exception for it: he only photographed the reverse. But its description on p. 153. has transcription جيتل and a footnote:

    “… R. IV. 26 is a similar coin—wt. 51.7 grs. …”

    Rodgers, Coins Supplementary to “Chronicles of the Pathan Kings” No. IV in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. LX, No. 26 is actually similar: its reverse looks the same as the few strokes distinguishable in the black blot that Wright’s No. 647 has become.

    And it obverse has حٮٮل with four dots below and two above (like چنڹل ), چيتل believes Rodgers. He calls Thomas’s coin “chaital“.

  54. John Cowan says

    You can’t mix and match any more than with cricket and baseball.

    Of course you can: consider /pɚ seɪ/. Not to mention Danish (or Swedish) longball, which is unlike either of its ancestors because it is played with a tennis racket and ball.

  55. The question was not about random pronunciation — of course you can pronounce bits of Latin however you like. The question was about teh hardcorez, and /pɚ seɪ/ is not that.

  56. the Kurmanji word

    Oh, should’ve guessed from the circumflex… for some reason I had been assuming it would be something from South America and would stand for /ʃeɾɨb/.

  57. By synchronicity, I just came across the English word krait [kɹaɪt], from करैत کريت karait, now standard Hindi-Urdu /kəɾɛːt/. The Hindi word is spoken many times in this clip after they dig the krait up:

    https://youtu.be/7sIQ6ypr6TA?t=41

    This would be another example of borrowing before monophthongization, I reckon. The Hindustani word is usually said to be derived with the nominal suffix -ait with a kar- belonging to the family of the word for “black” (Sanskrit kāla-, Hindi-Urdu काला کالا kālā); compare Awadhi and Bhojpuri करिया kariyā (/kərɪjɑ/ vel sim.) “black”.

  58. Lars Mathiesen says

    @JC, as a Dane I must admit to the existence of langbold, but playing it with a racket? Never! It’s usually a tiny little round bat that seems designed to be hard to use. These days (and since I was a kid, really) tennis balls may be used because they are easy to get hold of, I don’t know what sort of balls they had in the second half of the 19th when it’s claimed to have been the dominant ball game in Denmark. (It’s not in my late-19th encyclopaedia, probably below the dignity of the editors).

    The 1931 entry in the ODS only mentions a boldtræ (bat) being used, though.

  59. I don’t know what sort of balls they had in the second half of the 19th

    *resists temptation*

  60. John Cowan says

    Perhaps the tennis ball suggested to anglophones that a tennis racket would be appropriate.

  61. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapta_(game), the Russian analog.

    But it disappeared with introduction of… I do not know, schooling ? Football?

    What can make kids and adults stop playing games?

  62. Lars Mathiesen says

    Lapta and langbold are outliers in that you run between two safe zones instead of around four bases, but otherwise they differ a bit — you are not allowed to hit the ball into the far field in langbold, for instance.

    (Cricket also has two ‘safe zones,’ come to think of it, but I have a feeling that’s a later development. Nobody seems to be willing to commit on how the game looked before 1700 or so, except that there seems to have been wickets, batsmen and fielders).

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