Thursday, January 29, 2015

puzmak, anpila and dardas

After discussing the modern word for sock - גרב gereb, let's take a look at some of the more archaic ones.

In the previous post, we mentioned magafayim מגפיים - leg armor, as found in the Mishna (Shabbat 6:2). The gemara on that mishna (Shabbat 62a) identifies magafayim as puzmekei פזמקי. In this context they also mean leg armor, but in other locations (Shabbat 10a, Shevuot 31a), puzmak פוזמק means fine shoes.

Klein gives the following etymology:

Of Turanian origin. Russian bashmaku  (=shoe), Med. Greek pasmazes and Arabic bashmaqji (=shoemaker) are of the same origin.
Stahl says the word has a Persian origin (Jastrow spells it pageng, but I couldn't find any sources online confirming that) made up of two parts - pa meaning "leg" (and is part of the word pajama) and jang - "to hold", so it was something that holds the leg.

How did it come to mean sock? Stahl says he's not sure, but I'm guessing that it might be due to Rashi's commentary on the gemara, where he identifies puzmak as "anpilaot אנפילאות of iron". What is an anpila אנפילה? It meant a felt shoe or slipper, and comes from the Greek empilion. Klein says that word is

formed from en ( = in) and pilos ( = felt), which is prob. cogn. with L. pilleus ( = felt cap), pilus (=hair).

That's certainly closer to a sock than a metal shoe.

There's one more old fashioned term for a sock - dardas דרדס. Klein said it also originally meant slipper, with Aramaic origins and probably deriving from the root דרס, meaning "to tread". They appear in Talmudic literature  (Yerushalmi Kilayim 9, Bereshit Rabba 100) However, you might be more familiar with dardasim דרדסים as the Hebrew word for The Smurfs. What's the connection between socks and smurfs?

In the book Higiya Zman Lashon, Avshalom Kor interviews Yechiam Padan, who gave the Smurfs their name in Hebrew. Padan says that the name was based on the sock that they wear on their heads. He might have also been influenced by the fact that the original name for the Smurfs in French was "Schtroumpf", which is very similar to the German word "Strumpf" meaning "sock" (although the French creator says that's not where the name came from). But when Kor asked him why he didn't call them the "Puzmakim", he said there was another advantage of the name Dardasim - it recalls two words: dardak דרדק - "young child" and kundas קונדס - "mischief". Perhaps the best proof that it was a good choice for a name is that today no kids in Israel associate the word with its less fun origin.

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