Fragrant-Horse or Having Intelligent Horses
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Categories: Ancient, Modern

Fragrant-Horse or Having Intelligent Horses

Academics get very excited when we find typos, perhaps because it gives us a break when reading through hundreds of pages like this:

*baudāspa- N. pr. el. bu-da-áš-ba-, bu-da-iš-ba (H 746) = ‘Duft-Pferd’. Gersch. 1969a, 224 liest *buda-aspa ‘having intelligend horses’, zu ai. budha. M. Mayrhofer erwog (Fs. Scherer [1971] 60) *būtāspa-

– W. Hinz, Altiranisches Sprachgut der Nebenüberlieferungen (Otto Harrasowitz: Wiesbaden, 1975) p. 65

Having intelligend horses! That feels like the spelling from another language has slipped into his English, but I can’t think of which. Studying Old Iranian requires dealing with sources written down in Avestan, Elamite, Akkadian, Aramaic, and Greek, and reading commentaries in English, French, Russian, and German, so it is easy to slip up. I can’t speak intelligently about whether this name means “fragrant horse” (Hinz’ favourite theory) or “having intelligent horses” (which another philologist suggested) but I can wonder about how this mistake came to be.

The times when I end English words in -isch instead of -ish, or mix up schießen and scheißen, are completely different of course. Those times should be consigned to oblivion, not noticed by cheeky graduate students.

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