loup garou?

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Thu Sep 27 18:00:16 UTC 2001

On 9/27/01 13:17, "RonButters at AOL.COM" <RonButters at AOL.COM> wrote:

> << ... the curious pleonasm of
>>> "loup-garou" ... >>
> Which is what?

The speculation I cobbled together from multiple sources puts the word
changes in roughly this order (spelling, of course, being highly variable):

w["a]rwolf, w["a]hrwolf, wehrwolf, werwulf
       (Germanic or Frankish; man-wolf)
        (Old Nordic)
garwall, garwaf, garvalf
        (Old Northern French, 1175, from Les Lais de Marie de France; in one
        version of the work these three spellings are within a few lines of
        each other.)
waroul, warou, wareu
        (Not sure whether these go before or after Marie de France)
guaroul, garoul, garou
       Still meaning "werewolf."
      At which point the "loup" or variations from the Latin "lupus"
      were added back into the word to create
leu garoul
      then the modern French

which might be literally said to mean "wolf man-wolf."

It's even more fun to explain to others if you add in the Indo-European
"wro," the Sanskrit "vira" and the Latin "vir" to the top of the list, and
maybe tangent a little on the origin of the word "world." All speculative,
but the point of the demonstration was to mark the changes between the
original language of Marie de France and modern French, with reference to
the Norman invasion and the creation of something resembling our English.

Gilles Ménage's "Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue françoise" (1750)
online at the Bibliothèque Nationale Française has some wild notions about
the origin of the word (that it derives directly from the corruption of
other, similar, French or Latin words that have to do with the appearance or
the conduct of such creatures, without offering specific citations other
than other etymologic theorizing, or that it comes from Hebrew, most of
which I did not understand as I do not read Latin nor Hebrew, alas) that
coordinate with nothing I found elsewhere, so I disregarded those points and
stuck to those parts of his etymology that concurred with other sources.

The OED has a good general etymology of werewolf, if you're interested in
it, with the appropriate amount of doubt sown.


Grant Barrett
gbarrett at worldnewyork.org
New York Loves You Back

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