Friday, February 8, 2013

Persian Word in English: Jackal

The English word "jackal" is from the Turkish çakal, which in turn comes from Persian shaghal. The Persian is either cognate with or derived from Sanskrit srgalas.

From the Oxford English Dictionary, I learned that in some English dialects the word was stressed on the second syllable, and thus sometimes spelled "jackcall" or even "Joe-caul" as in this citation from 1672: They must not be like the Joe-caul, which provides food for the Lyon.

Two of the most famous characters in the Indian storytelling tradition are the treacherous jackals, Karataka and Damanaka, of the Panchatantra. The jackals are named Kalila and Dimna in the Arabic version, known as Kalila-wa-Dimna. The image below is from a 15th-century Persian version of the story and shows one the jackals intriguing with the lion king:

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