Saturday, March 28, 2009


Improper Words in Boliaric

In chapter V and Appendix II of Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece (London: John Murray, 1966), Patrick Leigh Fermor discussed a secret language used in the Kravara district of Greece. The name of the secret language is Boliaric. So far as I can tell, no one else has ever analyzed the Boliaric materials collected by Fermor. To do so properly would require knowledge of Slavic languages and modern Greek, knowledge which I lack. I offer only a couple of trifling observations on a paragraph from the appendix:
Here also are a few of the mildly improper words in the vocabulary. Perdikis, the Greek for a young partridge, is "the rump" or "behind", havalóu, the female pudendum, lióka its convex masculine complement; manganízo is "I fornicate"; souravlízo, which normally means "playing a reed pipe", here means "I urinate"; kouphróno and tzarmízo, identical in sense, are its solider companion verbs and koúphrisma and tzármisma their end products; tramalízo and lazinízo both mean to break wind and tramálisma is the same wind once broken.
From an etymological point of view, perdikis is an appropriate word for "fundament," as it is cognate with verbs for breaking wind. See Calvert Watkins' Indo-European Roots, published as an appendix to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. perd-:
To fart. Germanic *fertan, *fartan in Old English *feortan, to fart: FART. 2. Greek perdix, partridge (which makes a sharp whirring sound when suddenly flushed): PARTRIDGE. See also variant root pezd-. [Pok. perd- 819.]
I find the doublet tramalízo and lazinízo intriguing. In some languages there are separate words for breaking wind silently and loudly, e.g. Latin vissio and pedo. Could this be an example of the same phenomenon in Boliaric?

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