Intelligent Answers

Intelligent Answers => Intelligent Questions... and Intelligent Answers => Language => Topic started by: siasl on 26 June, 2018, 06:46:22 PM

Title: Open sesame
Post by: siasl on 26 June, 2018, 06:46:22 PM
Why is that seed/oil/plant invoked to open a door?
Title: Re: Open sesame
Post by: P-Kasso2 on 04 July, 2018, 01:04:53 PM
What does "Open Sesame" mean?    All is explained!  Well, actually no it is not. Not exactly, that is. 

But I have found an interesting BlogSpot called Old European Culture that explains far more about the phrase "Open Sesame" and its mysterious origins than I could ever possibly explain.

In short Siasl, your question has a very long answer....but, luckily, the nub of the answer lies in the first twenty or thirty or so lines quoted below. From thereon in, I'm afraid the possible origins of the phrase "Open Sesame" travel merrily back and forth across Europe and the Balkans. IT's interesting reading (especially for those who are interested)....

The BlogSpot author of Old European Culture says....

" "Open Sesame" (Arabic: افتح يا سمسم‎ iftaḥ yā simsim) is a magical phrase in the story of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" in One Thousand and One Nights.

The phrase first appears in writing in Antoine Galland's "Les Mille et une nuits" (1704–1717) as "Sésame, ouvre-toi" meaning "Sesame open yourself".

The phrase has been variously translated from the French into English as "Sesame, Open", "Open, Sesame" and "Open, O Simsim".

 There are many theories about the origin of the phrase. Indeed, it is not certain what the word sesame or simsim actually means.

 Some older theories include:

 1. Sesame is a reduplication of the Hebrew šem 'name' i.e. God or a kabbalistic word representing the Talmudic šem-šamáįm ("shem-shamayim"), 'name of heaven'.

2. Sesame is connected to Babylonian magic practices which used sesame oil.

 I believe that there is another possible etymology for this word or phrase, one that fits perfectly the actual use of the word in the story about Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. However this etymology would open quite a few questions about the origin of the "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" story.

 In the story, Ali Baba is at work collecting and cutting firewood in the forest, and he happens to overhear a group of 40 thieves visiting their treasure store. The treasure is in a cave, the mouth of which is sealed by magic. It opens on the words "open sesame" and seals itself on the words "close sesame".

 This is very interesting. The cave opens by itself when it is commanded "open sesame" and it closes by itself when it is commanded "close sesame".

 In Serbian if you wanted to command the cave to open "by yourself" you would say "otvori se sam" and if you wanted to command the cave to close "by yourself" you would say "zatvori se sam"...

 In Serbian the phrase "se sam" means "by yourself"...

 In Serbian the word "sam" means alone, by yourself, without anyone's help. My son when he was small used to shout "sam! sam!" when he wanted to do something by himself without the help of adults. Is this where "simsim" comes from? Is "simsim" just bastardisation of "sam! sam!" which happened after the meaning of the original phrase was forgotten?

 If we look at the etymology of the Serbian word "sam" we see that the word "sam" meaning alone, by oneself is a Slavic wide word. The "so called" cognates include. You will se why I say "so called" from the actual list of "cognates":

 Germanic: *samaz - same, equal but not alone, by oneself. Probably not a cognate at all
Ancient Greek: ὁμός ‎(homós) - same, common, joint but not alone, by oneself. Probably not a cognate at all
Sanskrit: सम ‎(sama) - same, even, equal, homogeneous but not alone, by oneself. Probably not a cognate at all
Avestan: ‎(ham) - ?
Kurmanji: hev - o have, nothing to do with alone, by oneself. Probably not a cognate at all
Sorani: haw - ?
Zazaki: hem - and, nothing to do with alone, by oneself. Probably not a cognate at all
Old Persian: ‎(hama) - ?
Middle Persian: (ham) - ?
New Persian: هم ‎(ham) - also, too, similarly, nothing to do with alone, by oneself. Probably not a cognate at all

 From here you can see that the phrase "se sam" meaning "by yourself" and "sam! sam!" meaning "by yourself, alone" could only have come from Slavic languages.

 I was just told that another possible Serbian etymology is "otvori se za me" meaning "open yourself for me"...

 As we can see, this etymology gives the meaning to the words (phrases) "sesame", "simsim" which  perfectly match the use of the words (phrases) in the actual story "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves".

But if this is the real etymology, and it is the only normal sounding etymology so far, how did this Serbian (Slavic) expression end up in Arabian folk tale?

As I already said, most scholars agreed that the "One Thousand and One Nights" are a composite work and that the earliest tales in it came from India and Persia. But is it possible that some of these stories came from Slavic countries, or from territories in Asia Minor inhabited by Slavic people who were settled there during Byzantine times?

As I said already, It is believed that Galland, the 18th-century French Orientalist, who was the first to record the "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" story, may have heard it in oral form from a Middle Eastern story-teller from Aleppo, in modern-day Syria. And Syria was at the time of the Slavic settlement in Asia minor the border area between the Byzantine empire and the Umayyad Caliphate. And the Slavs were specifically settle in the Asia Minor to protect the Byzantine borders against the Muslims. 

 Asia Minor Slavs refers to the historical South Slav communities relocated to Anatolia by the Byzantine Empire, from the Balkans. After Maurice's Balkan campaigns (582-602), and subsequent subduing of Slavs in the Balkans during the 7th and 8th centuries, large communities were forcefully relocated to Asia Minor as military, fighting the Umayyad Caliphate.

 In 658 and 688/9 the Byzantines invited groups of Slavic settlers to Bithynia.

 The best known Slavic settlement there was the city of Gordoservon (Serbian: Srbograd, Grad Srba, Гордосервон, Greek: Γορδόσερβα) is mentioned, whose name is derived from the Serbs resettled in Asia Minor (in ca 649 or 667) by Byzantine Emperor Constans II (641–668), who came from the areas "around river Vardar". Isidor, the Bishop of Gordoservon is mentioned in 680/681, and the fact that this town was an episcopal seat gives ground to the thesis that it had a large Serbian population. Around the year 1200 this city is mentioned as 'Servochoria' (Serbian habitation).

 Constantine III settled captured Slavs in Asia Minor, and 5,000 of these joined Abdulreman ibn Khalid in 664-665.

 Justinian II (685-695) also settled in Asia Minor as many as 30,000 Slavs from Thrace, in an attempt to boost military strength. Most of them however, with their leader Neboulos, deserted to the Arabs at the Battle of Sebastopolis in 692.

 Military campaigns in northern Greece in 758 under Constantine V (r. 741–775) prompted a relocation of Slavs under Bulgar aggression, again in 783. The Bulgar expansion caused massive Slav migrations, and in 762, more than 200,000 people fled to Byzantine territory and were relocated to Asia Minor.

 The most prominent among the Asia Minor Slavs was Thomas the Slav. Thomas the Slav (c. 760 – October 823 AD) was a 9th-century Byzantine military commander, most notable for leading a wide-scale revolt in 821–23 against Emperor Michael II the Amorian (ruled 820–29).

 An army officer of Slavic origin from the Pontus region (now north-eastern Turkey), Thomas rose to prominence, along with the future emperors Michael II and Leo V the Armenian (r. 813–820), under the protection of general Bardanes Tourkos. After Bardanes's failed rebellion in 803, Thomas fell into obscurity until Leo V's rise to the throne, when Thomas was raised to a senior military command in central Asia Minor.

 After the murder of Leo and usurpation of the throne by Michael the Amorian, Thomas revolted, claiming the throne for himself. Thomas quickly secured support from most of the themes (provinces) and troops in Asia Minor, defeated Michael's initial counter-attack and concluded an alliance with the Abbasid Caliphate. After winning over the maritime themes and their ships as well, he crossed with his army to Europe and laid siege to Constantinople. The imperial capital withstood Thomas's attacks by land and sea, while Michael II called for help from the Bulgarian ruler Omurtag. Omurtag attacked Thomas's army, but although repelled, the Bulgarians inflicted heavy casualties on Thomas's men, who broke and fled when Michael took to the field a few months later.

 Thomas and his supporters sought refuge in Arcadiopolis, where he was soon blockaded by Michael's troops. In the end, Thomas's supporters surrendered him in exchange for a pardon, and he was executed.

 Thomas's rebellion was one of the largest in the Byzantine Empire's history

 The Slavs of the Opsician Theme (Sklabesianoi) are still attested as a separate group in the 10th century, serving as marines in the Byzantine navy.

 So did these Asia Minor Slavs use phrases "otvori se sam" (open yourself) and "otvori se! sam! sam!" (open yourself! by yourself! by yourself!) or "otvori se za me" (open yourself for me) phrases in their retelling of the story about the magic cave which can open and close itself by itself? And is this how we ended up with "open sesame", "open simsim"?[/i]

And there, in a nutshell, you have it Siasl. Bet you wish you'd never asked now. ;D
Title: Re: Open sesame
Post by: siasl on 04 July, 2018, 02:40:49 PM
Will file that for reading when I have an hours peace and quiet :)
Title: Re: Open sesame
Post by: P-Kasso2 on 04 July, 2018, 04:07:41 PM
Will file that for reading when I have an hours peace and quiet :)

Best just before bedtime. It's an excellent narcotic.