LESSICOGRAFIA/LESSICOLOGIA

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Popular names of stars and constellations in Sardinia

[articolo pubblicato nel volume Lights and Shadows in Cultural Astronomy, Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi , Proceedings of the SEAC 2005, Isili (CA) 28 giugno - 3 luglio 2005; Regione Autonoma della Sardegna - Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (España); Dolianova (CA), Grafica del Parteolla 2007, pp. 338-343].   

0. Introduction. In Sardinia the lexicon of the stars and the constellations is more limited in comparison to the terminology that characterizes the great languages of culture, in which a meaningful contribution is offered by the names of the zodiac. The sky in which the Sardinian people, the shepherds and the farmers especially contemplate the show offered by the stars it is said in the dialects of the Logudoro (log.) su chélu, in the Campidano (camp.) su célu, in Sassari (sass.) lu zéru and in Gallura (gall.) lu céli.In the context of the terminology of the stars you can encounter generic names and specific names.

1. Firmament and generic names. The first of the two categories takes its name from the stars that  in the whole Sardinia is astru (plur. log. àstros, camp. àstrus). This word is used in some local sayings, for example bonu astru and mal'astru (Casu 2002: 198) that mean ‘good star’ and ‘bad star’  in the sense of good luck and bad luck. In log. abbaidare sos astros indicates a state of idleness, open-mouthed, and is used for idle people. Again in Logudoro the verb astruligare, istruligare and in Campidano istrologai was often used in the sense to make prediction about the future of a person as in italian astrologare. In the same category there is log. istella (plur. istèddos) and  camp. stella, stéddu (plur. stèllasstèddus) ‘star’. The difference between these two forms is taken from the fact that while (i)stéddu comes directly from the latin stella, the variant stèllaistèlla comes from the italian language. An aspect which is worth mentioning is that the two variants are specific in popular use. In fact (i)stèllas are those stars which are more luminous than others, likewise in log. istèddos, camp. stèddus are called fixed stars smaller and further away hence less luminous. This aspect relative to the formation of the name was observed back in the first half of the 18th century by the lexigrapher Vincenzo Porru (Porru 1832).

2. Specific names of planets and stars: The second category, that of the specific names, belongs to the most celebrated stars in all cultures.

2.1 The moon. The moon is called luna in all the various sardinian dialects, and also in the sardinian corsican dialects of the North of the island. This star’s name has entered into the characteristic language log. èsser de mala luna and camp. èssiri de mala luna which is generally used to refer to a person who is affected by the phases of the moon, an illtempered person. In sass. it is also said abé ra luna or assé di luna mara (Bazzoni 2001; 367; Bazzoni 2003; 224) that means 'to have the crooked moon' and it is reported to the inconstant people. Also in Sassari it is said ciambà che ra luna. ‘to change with the moon’ and nascì in luna mara which means ‘to be born under an averse sign’.Also from the name of the moon in sardinian derives the name of the first day of the week: log.  camp. Lunis ‘Monday’ which comes from the latin (dies) lunis rather than dies lunae as in the model dies Martis ‘Tuesday’. In sass. and gall. Monday is called Luni as in corsican. In some cases the Sardinian traditions return back to the classic traditions where the sickle of the gibbous moon recalls the concept of death. But the traditional society also knew the positive influence of the moon, for example in relation to grafting or wood cutting. Among sardinian country folk, it is known that if a graft is executed during the wrong period of the phase of the moon, then its result can not be positive. That phase is known as log. luna mòdde ‘soft moon’. Equally if wood is cut during the period between January and February it will last better and  longer. This other phase is known as log. luna tòsta ‘hard moon’. In the case of cane, which is used to construct the characteristic matting that held up the ceiling of traditional houses, it was known that if they were cut in the same period they could persist for many decades.Some place-names recall the moon; for example Lunamatrona (village) and Genna sa Luna ‘moon’s door’ (Tetti 2001: II), both in the province of Cagliari.

2.2 The sun. The sun is said su sòle in Logudoro and su sòlli in the meridional part of the island. In Sassari it is said lu sòri, in Gallura lu sóli. The star for excellence often enters in sayings of  positive value, as in log. béllu che su sòle ‘beautiful as the sun’ which is often directed at newborn or young children. A verse of a popular logudorese song which portrays béllu sò e mi nd’abizo / a su sole m’assimizo ‘I am beautiful and I know it / I am like the sun’ clears up the concept of beauty that popular tradition associates with the sun. None the less on an island like Sardinia, where the summers are hot and sometimes torrid, the name of the sun could be evoked to frighten the children, when their mothers wanted to avoid that the little ones went out of the house and when the temperature is particularly high, and could cause bad sunstroke. In the moment in which the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, the Sardinian mothers use to transform the word ‘sun’ with log. sa mam(m)a de su sòle ‘the mother of the sun’ that has the frightening power to kidnap the children. Also the sun, as the moon, enters into the formation of some place-name; for example Bruncu su Sòli ‘top of the sun’ (Quartu Sant’Elena, province of Cagliari).

2.3  Venus. Among the names of the other heavenly bodies, do not forget the log. su Bóinu ‘the bovin’. The evening star in Sarrabus is said sa Stella de is Boiàxus ‘star of the cowherds’ because this star appears when it is time to close the cattle in the cattle shed (Böhne 1950; 86). In Sassari Venus is called Isthèlla di lu Pastòri,  literally ‘the shepherd’s star’, probably for the same reason mentioned before. In Logudoro the planet Venus is said Istèlla Chenadòrza or Istéddu de Chenadórzu (Wagner 1960: 328), the name of which in Gallura corresponds  with Stella cinàtoggja, literally ‘the dinner time star’ (Fresi p.c.). Some attributes this name to Sirio which presents itself very brightly in the same quadrant as Venus after sunset.

2.4 Sirius. In the Campidano and in the sorrounding areas the name of Sirio is Stèlla de atzàrxu ‘the steel star’ evidently because of its vivid metallic colour.

2.5 North star. The Pole star in Logudoro is known by the name Norte and in Barbagia Norti, that comes from the spanish norte ‘North’ (Wagner 1962: 171).

3. Names of the constellations.

3.1 The Milky Way is said log. Bia or Via de sa Paza, camp. Bia de sa Palla ‘the straw way’, after a very antique metaphor which is also used by the Berbers in the Maghreb  (Wagner 1962: 237). In some places the name of that constellation is Carru de sa Paza ‘the cart of straw’. In sassarese the same constellation is as well as Ischàra di la paglia ‘the straw stair’ by inserting stair instead of way. It is also called Ischàra di Santu Giàggu ‘Saint James’s stair’ and in some village of Logudoro Iscala de Santu Jagu (Wagner 1960: 650). In some parts of northern Logudoro, the Milky Way is said, on the contrary, Caminu de Roma, literally ‘the way of Rome’. The same goes in gallurese, Caminu di Roma, which also recalls the Corsica and other regions of the Italian peninsula (Wagner 1960: 275). But also in Gallura that nebula is known as lu Caminu di la Padda ‘the way of the straw’ (Fresi p.c.).

3.2 Generally the Ursa Major (Great Bear) and the Ursa Minor (Small Bear) are considered a single constellation and therefore it has not got a specific name. So all over Sardinia the Ursa Major is known by the name su Carru ‘the Cart’, which also occurs in other linguistic areas outside of the island. But in Gallura its name is lu Càrrulu Mannu ‘the big cart’ (Fresi p.c.). In Bitti (Nuoro) and in some other villages of the Logudoro and Barbagia its name is sos Sètte Frades (Wagner 1960: 543) and in camp. is Sètti Fradis ‘the Seven Brothers’ (Puddu 2000: 710). In some areas its name is sas Sette Baccas ‘the Seven Cows’ (Pittau 2002: II, 317), which reminds the latin Septem Triones ‘the Seven Oxen’ that was one of the names by which this constellation was known. In Gallura the Ursa Minor is denominated lu Càrrulu Minori literally ‘the small cart’ (Fresi p.c.). 

3.3 In Logudoro the constellation of the Cygnus is known as Rughe de Santu Balentinu or Volentinu ‘Saint Valentines cross’ (Wagner 1960: 217). Volpati observed that this constellation was said ‘cross’ in many dialects because the brightest five stars are disposed, so as to present, as the figure of a cross (Volpati 1877: LIII, 493). However the costellation of the Cygnus is not only denominated Saint Valentine. In Sardinia, as in other areas of the Romània, the Cygnus is denominated with the addition of the name of some saints which implies some relation with the cross. Which is the case of Saint Costantine who in the christian tradition is shown in a conquering figuration under the sign of the cross. In fact in log. the Cygnus is said Rughe de Santu Antine and at the village of Sedilo, where rises the site of the sanctuary dedicated to that emperor, it is said Rughe de Santu Costantinu ‘Saint Constantine’s cross’.

3.4 The denominations for Orion are differents. In Bitti the same metaphor of the cross is used and is said Ruche de Santu Martinu that means ‘Saint Martin’s cross’ (Wagner 1960: 411). In Ittiri (Sassari) the first star of Orion is indicated by this name (Casu 2002: 271). Orion is especially known by the name log. sos Istentàles, camp. is Stantàlis or Standàlis (Puddu 2000: 1015), literally ‘the supports (of the sky)’ or ‘the crutches (of the sky)’, which refers figuratively to the three stars that hold up the sky. Also in Gallura this constellation is called li Stantàli (Bottiglioni 1938: 7, 579; Gana 1970: 554). In some village of the neighbourhood of Nuoro that constellation is called also sa Suguzadora or Subuzadorza, literally ‘(the stars) that wake up’ (Espa 1999: 1183). In some village its name is sos Tres Res ‘the Three Kings’ (Wagner 1962: 345). In some areas of the Logudoro and Barbagia, Orion is said sos Bastones (Espa 1999: 203) ‘the sticks (of the sky)’, name taken from the metaphor also known in Sicily (I Tre Bastuni), in the Occitanie (lous Bastous) and in Portugal (Cajado do Pastor). According to Volpati, in the certain zones of the island Orion would be denominated Istella de Chenadorzu (Volpati 1877: LII, 197) while in others, as we have seen, this name is up to Venus.

3.5 In Logudoro the name of the Pleiads corresponds to su Budròne (Wagner 1960: 248) whilst in the Campidano, and in the sorrounding areas, it is said s’Urdòni ‘the bunch’. Another name of that constellation in Logudoro is sos Puddighinos ‘the pullets’ (Puddu 2000: 1387), that is related with the corsican name of the Pleiads, e Gallinelle (Falcucci 1915: 185), and italian le Gallinelle.

3.6 A particular name is sa Borronchèra, which denominates the Iadis. This mysterious name, of which till now the etymology has not been individualized, can be compared with the Spanish word borronquera that is attributed to a type of swallow (Golondrina borronquera). Near the Babylonians really from the swallow she took name the ancient constellation of the Great Swallow, which includes those of the Pisces and of the Pegaso. It now needs to also wonder the astronomic knowledges of the Sardinians is as many ancient. In such case the name Borronchera he could have replaced one more ancient native word.

3.7 Lastly the name by which Cassiopea is known in some parts of the island is su Tronu ‘the throne’. Moreover that constellation probably assumes his name by a variation of the name of the Pleiads (su Budrone > s’Udrone > su Tronu).

4. Conclusions. We have observed that not all the names of the stars and the constellations are diffused in way uniform in the whole territory of the island. Rather they are noticed some divergences among the names attributed in certain regions in comparison to those that are known in the other zones. The name of an important planet as Mars it results unknown to the popular tradition. This situation perhaps derives from the fact that in some regions of the island some names can be fallen in disuse. They don't miss, however, also the original denominations. 

During a very ancient phase the astronomic knowledges of the Sardinians were connected with those of the peoples of northern Africa and middle east as they show the metaphor of the way of the straw (Wagner 1997: 10) and that of the pullets. Nevertheless a lot of the popular attestations that they still remain, especially in the northern part of the island, they can demonstrate that also the Sardinian cultural system ideally is inserted in a more large area that corresponds to the romance context.

 

Bibliography

Bazzoni 2001 = Gian Paolo Bazzoni, Dizionario Fraseologico Sassarese-Italiano, Magnum-Edizioni, Sassari.
Bazzoni 2003 = Gian Paolo Bazzoni, Pa modu di dì. Detti, motti, modi di dire sassaresi, Magnum-Edizioni, Sassari.
Böhne 1950 = Rudolph Böhne, Zum Wortschatz der Mundart des Sárrabus (Südost sardinien), Berlin.
Bottiglioni 1938 = Gino Bottiglioni, Atlante linguistico-etnografico italiano della Corsica, Pisa-Modena.
Casu 2002 = Pietro Casu, Vocabolario Sardo logudorese – Italiano, a cura di Giulio Paulis, ISRE Ilisso, Nuoro.
Espa 1999 = Enzo Espa, Dizionario sardo-italiano dei parlanti la lingua logudorese, Carlo Delfino editore, Roma.
Falcucci 1915 = Franco Domenico Falcucci, Vocabolario dei dialetti, geografia e costumi della Corsica, Arnaldo Forni editore, Cagliari.
Fresi p.c. = Franco Fresi, Tempio, personal communication.
Gana 1970 = Leonardo Gana, Vocabolario del Dialetto e del Folklore Gallurese, Editrice Sarda Fratelli Fossataro, Cagliari.
Mango 1890  = Francesco Mango, Novelline popolari sarde, Palermo.
Pittau 2000 = Massimo Pittau, Dizionario della Lingua Sarda fraseologico ed etimologico, I, Ettore Gasperini editore, Cagliari.
Pittau 2002 = Massimo Pittau, Dizionario della Lingua Sarda fraseologico ed etimologico, II, Ettore Gasperini editore, Cagliari.
Porru 1832 = Nou Dizionariu Universali Sardu-Italianu, compilau de su saçerdotu benefiziau Vissentu Porru, Tipografia Arciobispali, Casteddu. 
Puddu 2000 = Mario Puddu, Ditzionàriu de sa limba e de sa cultura sarda, Condaghes, Cagliari.
Tetti 2001 = Virgilio Tetti, I Nomi di Luogo. Quarta dimensione della Sardegna, II, Nuoro.
Volpati 1877 = Carlo Volpati, Nomi romanzi degli astri Sirio, Orione, le Pleiadi e le Jadi, “Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie”, 1, Halle.
Wagner 1960 = Max Leopold Wagner, Dizionario Etimologico Sardo, I, Carl Winter, Heidelberg.
Wagner 1962 = Max Leopold Wagner, Dizionario Etimologico Sardo, II, Carl Winter, Heidelberg.
Wagner 1997 = Max Leopold Wagner, La lingua sarda. Storia, spirito e forma, a cura di Giulio Paulis, Ilisso, Nuoro.
 
Commenti (1)

1. alberto areddu 06/07/2017

circa 200 E. per un libro nuovo mi paion un po troppi, comunque vedrò di leggere il composito Manuale, specie per quanto attiene la parte lessicograficae il sostrato dove credo di aver detto anch`io
qualcosa di interessabile...

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