Saturday, 23 April 2011

₪ Iskander's Yunanistan

Warning: This article might contain strong, coarse, and foul language among other profanities and politically incorrect remarks. 
If you are easily offended, you should drink some vinegar and bite your thumb click away on the Bright Side of the Internet.

Constantinus XI Palaeologus by Theophilus Cephaleus Chatzemichael
"Constantinus XI Palaeologus"
Theophilus Cephaleus Chatzemichael
One of the things I always liked about my relationship with Salih is that we've ever been brutally honest with each other about the way we see things. We never hesitate to talk about culture, history, and politics, and unlike any other friendship between a Turk and a Greek; we have never been reluctant to play with the hot potato of our in-between history and politics. If my good friend stops by my work or vice-versa, we'll often greet one another in our mother tongues since we both speak a wee bit of each other's language. This confuses people from time to time, but what gives them a real
headache is why Salih calls me Yunan, and what this actually means.

In Turkish; Yunan means Greek (or Hellene as I would prefer to be addressed in any case), and by adding the suffix *stan, we get the idiom for the country of Greece; hence the term Yunanistan. That being said, someone would rightfully notice that this word is not found exclusively in Turkish, but in pretty much all languages that are spoken in the Eastern world, including North Africa under the cultural influence of Islam. When it comes to the right way of calling a Greek, things seem confused and the reason for this is the very different cultural zones around the world. I have written an article with a thorough, extensive, and in-depth analysis on the matter of Hellenic ethnonyms, but if I'd have to sum it up, the two major sides are Greece and Yunanistan for West and East respectively. 

Reason would direct many to wonder; how is the term Yunanistan connected with Greece etymologically or linguistically? The Greeks were divided into four major tribes; AcheansDoriansAeolians, and Ionians; and since the latter was mostly placed in Asia Minor, they had the biggest interaction with the East.

Here is where Iran comes into play, as it all began in 334 BCE with a young lad that sought revenge for the assassination of his father and the war that was waged against his people. The boy crossed the Hellespont with the grandiose and arrogant plan to counterattack the most formidable empire that mankind had seen to date, and thence the rest is history. This frantic young man was later known by what is believed to be the most badass title in human history: 
Holy fuck. Cocky little fucker wasn't he?

Royal Necropolis of Aegae, Vergina
Royal Necropolis of Aegae, Vergina
Alexander marched to the very depths of Asia, and eventually a new empire was born. It was a Hellenic world that stretched from its colonial states in Iberia and Italy to the Himalayan Hindu Kush, and from cities in Ukraine to Libya and Egypt. Aristotle had taught him well, and he knew that the greatest mean for sociological cohesion was a common culture; marking the dawn of the Hellenistic Era. Academies, theaters, schools, gyms, and temples; were commissioned by Alexander and Greek immediately became the de facto language of the empire. Now, the expression "Greek language" is so unspecific, that even Dalai Lama could lose it for its vagueness. Five thousand years of lingual evolution and literally countless dialects are enough for any linguist to hit his head on the wall over which dialect is the "Greekest" of them all. 

Fortunately for us, the ancient Greeks resolve this problem through their documents, and the lucky winner is the Attic-Ionian dialect. Them bloody Athenians were still the epicenter amongst the Hellenes as a result of their academic preponderance and always fancied themselves as culturally superior, notwithstanding the changes in leadership amongst the Greeks. Alexander's father; Philipp was extremely bothered by the fact that despite his military dominance over the other Greeks; the Macedonians never enjoyed any respect in terms of prestige. On the contrary; they were mocked as goat herders and Philipp sought to change that. 
As a Dorian tribe that neighboured Epirus and Thessaly from the west and north respectively; their Macedonian phonetics were a wonderful combination of the shittiest of all Greek dialects; western Dorian merged with Acarnanian Achaean and pronounced with Aeolian accent. Pure vomit.
Try to imagine what it would sound like if a man of Geordie and Liverpudlian descent tried to read Shakespeare in Cockney accent while drunk and with a potato down his throat.
Yes, the Athenians laughed their arses off and burst into tears, every time a Macedonian tried to say something fancy. This evolved into the national sport of Athens and them fuckers still make fun of everybody up-to-date.

The Battle of Alexander at Issus (German: Alexanderschlacht) is a 1529 oil painting by the German artist Albrecht Altdorfer (c. 1480–1538)
"The Battle of Alexander at Issus"
Albrecht Altdorfer
Philip paid great attention -and drachmas- in order to improve his kingdom's status, and the very first thing to do, was to formally change the dialect that was spoken in his royal palace. The Hellenic Koine (Common) was now the official and de facto dialect in Pella, Athens, Ephesus, Alexandria and Babylon; thus, a universal Lingua Franca.
When it comes to human relations, humans often identify each other from the language that they speak -and that language for them was the Ionic one- therefore, the term Ionian became an ethnonym for all Greeks, which in Proto-Iranian languages was Yunan. Culturally speaking; the Persians passed the baton to their Arab, Turkic and other neighbours, and we can see their influence everywhere we look at them all; arts, music, philosophy, science, and language. 

Variants of the primary Western Iranian term include derivatives in more than twenty languages and tenths of dialects, mostly all them in the Eastern world and its sphere of influence;
Persian یونان (Yūnān), Arabic اليونان (al-Yūnān), Sanskrit यवन (Yavana), Urdu یونان (Yūnān)
Aramaic יון (Yawān/Yawon), Hebrew יָוָן/יוון (Yavan/Yāwān), Armenian Յունաստան(Hunastan),
Laz ხორუმონა (Yonaneti), Ottoman Turkish یونانستان (Yunanıstan), Tajik Юнон (Yunon),
Hindi यूनान (Yūnān), Uzbek Yunoniston, Kurdish Yewnanistan, Bengali

Most Greeks today do not welcome the term, because of its association with the fall of the Byzantine empire and its direct relation to Ottoman rule in Greece. Naturally; the Greek people did not quite saw the best days of their lives during the Turkish presence in the Hellenic world, and as a result of the cultural differences between the two; they resented their identification as Yunans by their alien occupants.
That being said, the modern relationship between Greeks and Turks has taken a fascinating character on the internet, with mutual spicy compliments and passionate declarations of love about each other's sisters. 


❖ Ethnonym
  • a.3 ∴ Ethnonym ‣ English ∴
  • a.2 ∵ Ethnonymie ‣ Middle French ∵
  • a.1 ∵ Εθνωνύμιον  ΕΘΝΩΝΥΜΙΟΝ /ɛ́tʰnοnýmion/ ‣ Hellenic Koine ∵ 
     ☛ from ethnos + ónyma ‎ "a name for an ethnic group"

  • a.4.4 ∴ Ethnos ‣ Latin ∴ 
  • a.4.3 ∵ Ethnos ‣ Euboean Hellenic ∵ 
  • a.4.2 ∵ Ἒθνος • ΕΘΝΟΣ /étʰnos/ ‣ Hellenic Koine ∵ "people, nation, class, caste, tribe"
  • a.4.1 ≝ Ἒθω • ΕΘΩ /é.tʰɔ/ ‣ Hellenic Koine ∵ "accustomed, wont to do something"

  • a.5.9 ∴ Name ‣ English ∴ 
  • a.5.8 ∵ Nome ‣ Middle English ∵
  • a.5.7 ∵ Noma ‣ Old English ∵
  • a.5.6 ∵ Namô ‣ Proto-Germanic ∵
  • a.5.5 ∵ Nōmen ‣ Latin ∵
  • a.5.4 ∵ Onoma ‣ Euboean Hellenic ∵
  • a.5.3 ∵ Ὂνομᾰ  ΟΝΟΜΑ /ónoma/ ‣ Hellenic Koine ∵
  • a.5.2 ∵ Ὂνυμα  ΟΝΥΜΑ /ónuma/ ‣ Hellenic Aeolic / Doric ∵
  • a.5.1 ≝ Οὔνομα  ΟΥΝΟΜΑ /ounoma/ ‣ Hellenic Ionic / Poetic ∵

☛ Info: Cognate with Asturian/Galician/Novial/Portuguese/Venetian/Istro-Romanian/Italian nomeFrench/Catalan/Istriot nomAragonese/Spanish nombre, Esperanto nomoFriulian nonIdo nomoInterlingua nomineLadin inominuemMegleno-Romanian numiRomanian numeSardinian numeneSicilian nomunome, Scots namenaim, nem, North Frisian neemnaamnöömnoomeSaterland Frisian noomeWest Frisian nammeDutch naamLow German/German nameNorwegian/Danish navn‎, Swedish namnIcelandic nafnAromanian numãnume, Dalmatian naunnaumEnglish novumetc.

Historic Trivia

The Sampul tapestry is a Hellenistic woolen wall-hanging dating from 4th century BCE found in Sampul, Tarim Basin, China.
The Sampul Tapestry
4rd century BCE
☛ The Anglo-Magyar archaeologist and explorer Sir Stein Márk Aurél made significant discoveries in the Southwestern China during the Great Game in early 20th century. Among the artefacts that he discovered were many Greek amphorasskyphae, and kraters depicting geometric patterns, mythological stories and the Olympian Gods. 
Excavations followed and the results were truly unexpected; More than ten Hellenic settlements were unearthed in the province that is called... Yunnan. The mission was instantly put on hold by the Chinese government for its failure to have a connection between the pyramids and royal tombs, that were found there with an ancient Chinese culture; and resulted in ordering the sites to be covered again with soil and the prohibition of entering the place for public and international expeditions.
Further excavations that took place in Niya's Terim Basin in the Taklaman Desert, were equally disappointing considering a Chinese link to these mysterious pyramids. Literally every single artifact that was found was Greek; from kopis swords to pottery, and from coins to Hellenic Buddhas and tapestries. Forensic evaluations on the human remains that were unearthed are unquestionable; the skeletons that were found were Caucasian, and many people that live today in the province have unusual features for Chinese; green or blue eyes, light complexion, blond hair, heights up to 185cm, etc.

For many people (including myself) this is a solid evidence that Marco Polo was some centuries late to the Greeks that settled in the western Chinese territories. 
The name of China in its own people's language is Zhōngguó. The term in Western languages has evolved through Latin from the Greek ethnonymic Sinae. The most commonly accepted etymology path is through Middle Persian čīn ultimately from Sanskrit चीन ‎(cīna), supporting the theory of identifying the Qin Dynasty
Personally, I am very sceptical how is it possible to call a country after a Dynasty, before the rise of that dynasty(?) The Qin appeared on the 3rd century BCE, while the Greeks -and even the Romans- called the country Sinae before that. Just some food for the thought.