Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Jane Harrison's philological fieldwork on shovels

The following is extracted from JHS 23 (1903), pp. 292-324 at 304, and deals with the identification of winnowing-fans, (3- and 5-pronged) forks and shovels (with slight adaptations).

In Fig. 9 we have a thrinax, and a glance at the illustration will show that it is neither fork nor shovel, but an ingenious blend of both. The specimen from which the drawing is made was bought by Mr. Bosanquet at Khandra, and is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. Mr. Bosanquet kindly tells me the name by which the instrument is now called was written down for him by his Greek foreman, who spells phonetically, as θυρνάκι. As pronounced by the Greek θυρνάκι is absolutely indistinguishable from θιρνάκι which is therefore probably the form that would be given by the educated. θιρνάκι is of course θιρνάκιον, the diminutive of θίρναξ = θρῖναξ. The fondness of modern Greek for diminutives is well known. The operation in which the θυρνάκι is used is known as λίχνισμα not λίκνισμα. I asked Mr. Bosanquet to ascertain whether the θυρνάκι was ever called a πτύον, and he writes 'It might be called πτύον very easily, that being the common word for a shovel. I induced the Cretan to explain the shape of θυρνάκι thus, 'είνε ὡς είδος φτυάρι' 'it is something like a shovel.'

1 comment:

Typhoeus said...

'neither fork nor shovel, but an ingenious blend of both.' So it's a shork!