January 25, 2004
Bearded Barbarians?

More recycled content (I'd post more here if I spent less time commenting elsewhere):

"Tom Paine" of Silent Running links to "imbecile blogger Michael Talismann" (no link for him), who writes (in his own comments):

The Greeks came up with the word "Barbaroi" because of the beards most of the Celtic / Germanic / Thracian / Dacian men they met had beards [sic]. And because they way they spoke sounded like "bar-bar-bar" to the refined Greeks.

The part about beards is hogwash. Barba is Latin for 'beard', but the Greeks were calling foreigners Barbaroi long before they had ever heard of the Romans, who then controlled only a few square miles of central Italy. The adjective barbaróphonos,* 'foreign-sounding, speaking a foreign tongue', is in the Iliad, which was written a generation or two after Romulus and Remus, though this particular line may have been added later. The Greek words for 'beard', pógon and (in verse) geneiás, géneion (which also means 'chin'), and hupéne, have no resemblance to Latin barba or Greek Barbaroi. If the ancient Greeks had wanted to refer to foreigners as 'bearded', they would have called them 'Pogonians' or 'Geneians' or something along those lines, not 'Barbarians'.

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*I've underlined the long e's and o's to show that they are etas and omegas, not epsilons and omicrons.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at January 25, 2004 09:47 AM