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Friday, 1 March 2013


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Your word for today is: Alan, n. and adj.

Alann. and adj.
[‘A member of a nomadic people of the northern Caucasus from whom the Ossetians are thought to be descended.’]

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈalən/, /əˈlɑːn/, /ˈeɪlən/,  U.S. /ˈælən/, /əˈlɑn/, /ˈeɪlən/
Inflections:  Plural  Alans,  Alani  Brit. /əˈlɑːni/, /əˈleɪni/,  U.S. /əˈlɑni/, /əˈleɪni/,  unchanged.
Etymology: <  classical Latin Alānus (plural Alānī) member of an ancient Iranian-speaking people, related to the Scythians and Sarmatians < an Iranian ethnonym (ultimately cognate with Persian īrān, the name of Iran: see Iranian adj.), apparently < the same Indo-Iranian base as Old Persian ariya (see Aryan adj.) + a suffix < the Indo-European base of -an suffix. Compare Hellenistic Greek Ἀλανοί, plural (2nd cent. a.d. in Ptolemy).
The -l- is the result of an internal phonological development in Alanic and a small number of other Iranian languages.
 A. n.
  A member of a nomadic people of the northern Caucasus from whom the Ossetians are thought to be descended.
The Alans are first mentioned in Roman sources as dwelling near the Caspian Sea.
a1450 (1408)  tr. Vegetius De Re Militari (Douce) f. 19vFor þow among gothus and alanus & hunus horsmen vsen to ben armed.
c1450  J. Capgrave Life St. Augustine 58 These Alani dwelle in..Sithia; it is hens northest toward Constantinople.
1549  W. Thomas Hist. Italie f. 16vBiorgus kyng of the Alani, afterwardes called Alemani, who entred into Italie by the way of Trent.
1598  R. Hakluyt tr. Vincent of Beauvais in Princ. Navigations (new ed.) I. 66 On the South side it hath the Alani.
1601  P. Holland tr. Pliny Hist. World I. iv. xii. p. 83 The bastard and degenerate Scythians..and anon the Alani.
1614  A. Gorges tr. Lucan Pharsalia x. 443 He whom the fierce Alanis might, Nor Scythians rage could ought affright.
1728  Pope Dunciad iii. 82 The North..Great nurse of Goths, of Alans, and of Huns.
1776  Gibbon Decline & Fall I. xii. 329 He had negotiated with the Alani, a Scythian people, who pitched their tents in the neighbourhood of the lake Mœotis.
1846  A. T. Thomson tr. E. Salverte Occult Sci. I. viii. 193 The Rhabdomantic art was practiced among the Alani and the Scythians.
1877  S. Baring-Gould Lives Saints: Dec. 147 Aspar..was an Alan by birth, and an Arian by profession.
1913  E. H. Minns Scythians & Greeks iv 37 Klaproth first proved in 1822 that the Ossetes are the same as the Caucasian Alans.
1932  C. H. Dawson Making of Europe v. 87 Reinforced by..Sarmatian Alans from across the Danube.
1999  M. Kurlansky Basque Hist. of World i. ii. 35 These so-called barbarians—Vandals, Suevi, and Alans—easily passed the Basque ports of the Pyrenees.
 B. adj.
  Of or relating to the Alans or their language; Alanic.
1705  L. Echard Rom. Hist. V. iii. 188 The Daughter of an Alan Prince.
1787 Revelation St. John App. 499 The Visigoths, who reigned in Spain after the reduction of the Alan and Suevian kingdoms.
1833 Penny Cycl. I. 395/1 We still possess a fragment by Arrian, entitled ‘The Order of Battle against the Alans’, probably a part of a larger work on the Alan war.
1879 Academy 9 Aug. 105/1 When the Pannonian Avars appeared on the Alan frontier (a.d. 558), they displayed from the first the most intense anxiety to get to the westward.
1913  E. H. Minns Scythians & Greeks xviii. 555 [The name] is almost certainly Iranian, but we cannot take this as throwing light on the Tauri for it is more probably Alan.
1970 Iran 8 69 The Mongol invasion destroyed the Alan state.
2002 Jrnl. Amer. Oriental Soc. 122 181/1 An Alan chieftain in Mongolia.

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