Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Little House on the Prairie
What's in a name?
I've watched this discussion unfold in a manner similar to previous issues of nomenclature. Each time we arrive at a consistent set of themes--the collector who wants precision mainly for cataloging purposes, and the collector with broader ethnographic and cultural interests who wants to understand how we arrived at a particular name for a specific weapon. I would suggest that these are not necessarily competing approaches, but rather complementary.
The early descriptions of cultural items by Western authors were often incorrect. Sometimes the items had various names in the original culture which makes their description more complicated.
In this case, Ariel has made a strong case that the word karud is actually a misidentification of the Persian word kard. Perhaps if the early Western scribes had written the word they heard as kar'd—with the apostrophe representing the short, soft vowel in the spoken form—then this confusion would have been avoided. However, we are left with the word karud that has now found general acceptance in the collectors' lexicon, and we are unlikely to expunge it.
Some of you have pointed to other examples where a general term meaning "knife" has been applied more specifically to certain weapon forms. I would add to this list the Philippine words bolo, itak, and sundang, each of which are generic words for "knife" but have taken on more or less specificity according to where the term is used.
Slight differences in pronunciation in the local cultures also contribute to confusion. For example, the familiar Moro barong (with a short "o") is also pronounced barung (where the "u" is pronounced as a long "oo", as in moot) in some areas of the southern Phlippines. I use the less familiar spelling when describing the weapon because this avoids confusion with the barong tagalog, which is a shirt commonly worn by Filipinos.
I'm sure this is not the last time we will be discussing terms for weapons and coming across the errors of the past. Each time we go through this exercise I think it's important to ask, what are we trying to achieve in terms of clarity of description?
What's in a name?