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Gilaki kunus, its Caspian cognates, and Persian azgil ‘medlar’

Mauro Maggi


Pages 82 - 94

DOI https://doi.org/10.13173/SPR.55.1.082




Western and Eastern Gilaki kunus, konus, kənus ‘medlar’ (Mespilus germanica L.) is also recorded in some Persian dictionaries. The etymology of the word and ist cognates Māzandarāni kənəs, kəndəs, etc. is not satisfactorily established. Comparison with European names for ‘medlar’ such as dialectal English open-arse indicates that the Iranian word is a compound consisting of the local equivalents of Persian kun ‘anus, buttocks, bottom’ and the suffixoid -dis ‘similar to, -like’ and thus denotes ‘arse-like’ fruits. As English open-arse was supplanted by the French loanword medlar through euphemistic avoidance, so Persian adopted azgil to the detriment of the names from the Caspian region, the only area where the plant grows in Iran. In both Europe and Iran, the tabooed names themselves underwent alterations that partly toned down their original crudeness. The Persian equivalent azgil is an abbreviaton and univerbation of (mive-ye) az Gil ‘(the fruit) from Gil (= the Caspian region)’.



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