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LINGUIST List 16.1537

Fri May 13 2005

Qs: Translations of Duel

Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton <jessicalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Claudio Lacobini, Translations of Duel

Message 1: Translations of Duel
Date: 11-May-2005
From: Claudio Lacobini <ciacobiniunisa.it>
Subject: Translations of Duel

Working on the lexicon of Standard Average European I ran across the
interesting story of the word duel and his renderings in different
languages. The word duel has Latin origin, and it comes from the same root
of the word bellum “war, battle”. The common root of both words is the
archaic unattested *dwellum. The regular phonetic result of initial
proto-Latin cluster /dw/ is /b/ as bellum (among other words) shows. The
form duellum is an exception; the unusual initial cluster was very probably
retained because of the semantic influence of the (etymologically not
related) word duo “two”.

Most of western European languages (e.g. Spanish, French, Italian) use
words that continue the Latin form duel; others use both the Latinate form
and an native one, this latter derives from a reinterpretation of the word
duel as “fight between two” (e.g. German Zweikampf lit. two-battle).
Finno-Ugric languages uses mostly (or exclusively) native complex words
formed according to this last model: Est. kahevõitlus, Fin. kaksintaistelu,
Hung. párbaj. See also among Slavonic languages Serbo-Croatian dvoboj.
Classical and Modern Greek follow a different pattern: the word for duel is
monomakía (literally “one battle”, “single combat”).

The questions I am posting are the following:

- are there other (European and non-European) language that (re) interpret
the word duel as “fight between two”, i.e. using a complex word with a
first constituent meaning “two, couple”?

- are there languages (other than Greek) that use a complex word whose
first constituent means “one, single”?

- is there any other regular (iconic) pattern to express the meaning of “duel”?
Please send the answers to the following address: ciacobiniunisa.it; I’ll
post a summary

Thanks a lot in advance,
Claudio Iacobini

Associate Professor of General Linguistics

Linguistic Field(s): Lexicography

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