Articles

L’eponimo arabo Jurhum: La questione etimologica e delle fonti


Abstract


The etymology of the Arab eponym Jurhum is here investigated on the basis of the contexts in which it occurs in historiographical sources and the meanings of the adjective jurhum, as attested in lexicographical sources. The resulting interpretation assigns Jurhum two original meanings (homonymy). Firstly, Jurhum means a tall palm, from the root H J R via metathesis (see nakhlah muhjirah) and, indeed, narrative texts describe a descendant of Jurhum precisely as a tall palm. The vegetal nature of Jurhum is likely to be an instance of totemism. Secondly, Jurhum means a benign serpent, from the root J R H (see Tigre gärha ‘good-natured’). However, it may refer to a malignant serpent by antiphrasis, as ḥubāb ‘friendly serpent/entity’ stands for shayṭān ‘hostile serpent/entity’. The animal nature of Jurhum is also an instance of totemism. A descendant of Jurhum is in fact described as a viper, i.e. a malignant serpent.

Keywords

Jurhum, eponym, etymology, homonymy, totemism, palm, serpent

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13135/1825-263X/2906

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