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Боз-кашӣ, Boz-kaši … Ojalá 4th of May, 2007 POST·MERIDIEM 09:28

‘Before they settled on the plateau, the Iranians were pastoral nomads (as many still are), like their neighbours and successors the Turks, Mongols and other northern steppe peoples. It is thus unsurprising that they share many cultural traits. Among these are […] a wild team sport on horseback, known in northern Afghanistan as boz-kaši, “goat-grabbing.” In this the contestants try, by fair means or foul, to gain possession of the body of a decapitated goat or calf and deposit it at a goal. A more decorous relative of this game, polo, may have evolved in Iran, where it was a sport of the ruling elite from at least the tenth until the seventeenth century.

Thereafter it was preserved in the remote mountain areas of Hunza and Baltistan (where it is still popular, though it must sometimes share its field with the local soccer team). In these “hill stations” it was adopted by the British, who popularised it in the rest of northern India early in the twentieth century, whence it spread among the horse-riding classes of the world as far as Argentina and was re-introduced into Iran.’

  —John R. Perry, Folklore of the Iranian Region, Introduction, Asian Folklore Studies,  Vol. 60, No. 2. (2001), pp. 191-202.

I wonder what would happen on the introduction of a decapitated goat to a game of polo in our part of the world, heh.

Word of the day; ojalá is Spanish for ان شاء الله, ‘please God,’ ‘in shā’ allah’, ‘if God wills it.’ It is from Arabic, but according to Wikipedia, the source phrase was law šaʾ allāh, which would explain the absence of the /n/ (as compared to the more known version of the phrase). The /ʃ/ will have moved to /x/ relatively recently; cf. the English word ‘sherry’, named after a Spanish city in the 1600s, which city is now called Jerez.

The pronunciation in Valencian/Catalan is still /ʃ/, cf Xàtiva/Játiva. I don’t knwo when the shift occurred. The latter comes from the Iberian Saetăbis, sez DCVB; I believe Jerez to be still shrouded in confusion and pleasant fumes

Hmm, is there any other Iberian language that did the /ʃ/ -> /x/ thing? Portuguese didn’t, nor did Galician; it seems to have been exclusively Castilian.

Not as far as I know. Why do you think it happened? I haven’t got the faintest.

Heh, well, asking ‘why’ with sound changes is a doomed exercise; I can’t imagine anyone putting forward a good reason for why the Australians tend to say /maɪt/ for <mate>, despite the documentation of the history of the settlement of Australia being really good. Or for why middle High German merged /eɪ/ and /aɪ/, though the documentation there is more sparse.

Go on, be Iberian, make something up. You know the story about Felipe II’s lisp?

‘In a fit of anti-Portuguese sentiment following the end of the Iberian Union in 1640, Felipe III decided that /ʃ/ sounded far too Lusophile, and decreed that it not be pronounced at court. As a gesture of solidarity with its German-speaking allies in the Thirty Years’ War, Spain adopted the Ach-laut instead, something the Andalusians and later the Cubans had trouble with, as was their wont with Castilian in general.’

Jerez => Sherry => Shiraz too.

Hmm, apparently not, but I suppose we can endorse the idea in the general spirit of Iberia all the same.

Interesting word of the day, I’ve been offline for over two weeks, but spent all day yesterday walking around the Alhambra palace and surrounding complex, and rounded out the day with an hour session in an "Arabic Bath" in Granada..

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