محتاج للشفاء (wiped) wrote in linguaphiles,
محتاج للشفاء
wiped
linguaphiles

"Owl" in Near Eastern languages

I'm wondering about the etymology of the Persian word بوف (buf), which means "owl." A friend of mine, who is a native speaker of Persian, said that it 'felt' foreign to them. I usually have a good ear for picking out foreign loanwords in Persian (whether from Arabic, Turkish, French, or otherwise), but "buf" doesn't set off my radar. Neither the Hayyim nor the Steingass dictionary claim a foreign origin for the word, so I'm wondering if it's a truly native word, perhaps derived from Proto-Indo-European *ūw- ("owl").

Does anyone have any insight into this? Anyone know what the word for "owl" was in older Indo-Iranian languages (Middle Persian, Old Persian, etc.)? It must not be directly derived from Sanskrit, as the Sanskrit word is 'uluka.'

I found similar-sounding words for "owl" in other languages that may have been borrowed into or from Persian:

Albanian: buf
Arabic: بومة (buma)
Armenian: բու (bu)
Georgian: ბუ (bu)
Kurdish: bu, pû
Jewish Neo-Aramaic: buma
Macedonian: буф (buf), був (buv)
Romanian: bufnă
Spanish: búho (from Vulgar Latin 'bufo')

It's clear that Armenian, Georgian, and Kurdish share the same word for owl, which is not unusual considering that they have a great deal of vocabulary in common. What I can't figure out is whether "bu" is related to the Persian "buf," or just coincidentally similar? I think Arabic and Jewish Neo-Aramaic can be safely ruled out as sources for the Persian word, as Persian has an additional word for owl (بوم 'bum') that was borrowed from Arabic.

I am not looking for translations of the word for "owl" into other languages, unless there's a chance that they may be related to the Persian word.
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