[in allestimento - contivigende]
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. stèllas, stèddus) ‘star’. The difference between these two forms is taken from the fact that while (i)stéddu comes directly from the latin stella, the variant stèlla, istèlla 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
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
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
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
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
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 ‘
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
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.