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Semitic etymology :

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Number: 1958
Proto-Semitic: *ʔayl-
Afroasiatic etymology: Afroasiatic etymology
Meaning: 'ram'
Akkadian: (?) alu (elu) 'a fine breed of sheep' [CAD a1 374], [AHw. 39] (rendered as ālu, jālu). // Extensively commented in the discussion section of the article in [CAD] as well as in [Steinkeller 52]. According to Steinkeller, the earliest attestations of UDU.A.LUM are in Sum. lexicals lists from Abū Salābīh̊ and Ebla. Later on, the term is common in economic texts from Ur III, early OB, Mari and Qatna. Both CAD and Steinkeller assume its identity with aslu, a literary term for 'ram, lamb' found mostly in later texts. Since the phonetic development alu > aslu (or vice versa) is difficult, one tends to agree with Steinkeller that A.LUM is "an abbreivated/defective Akkadogram" to be read aslumx. If this assumption is correct, Akk. alu does not exist and does not form part of the present root ("Once UDU A.LUM is reclassified as aslu, then the lemma alu ... simply disappears" [Steinkeller 66]). // As for the forms a-lu, e-lu appearing as "true" Akkadian words (not logograms) in MA sources, they were expained as resulting from "scribal misunderstanding" in [CAD] which does not look very probable. More likely seems their explanation in [Steinkeller 66] ("the alleged occurrences of *alu in Middle Assyrian sources ... almost certainly involve ayalu/yalu 'stag'"), though, admittedly, no such writings for the relatively common Akk. term for 'stag' are attested.
Ugaritic: ʔal, ʔil 'carnero (de calidad superior)' [DLU 23, 25]. // The term occurs only as ʔal-m/ʔil-m, according to DLU a dual and a plural form respectively (šḳl t_rm wmrʔi ʔilm 'they felled bulls and fattened rams' 1.22 I 13 vs. ...ydbr t_rmt ʔalm '...he says: "my food is two rams"' 1.82:8, v. [Del Olmo Religión 252f.] for the interpretation). Such a morphologically unusual picture appears unlikely (what is expected is quite a reverse, a pl. ʔal-m [ʔālūma] < *ʔayalūma vs. a du. ʔil-m [ʔelāmi] < *ʔaylāmi) and one tends to consider both forms as plural, with an optional syncope of the a-infix (so [Tropper UG 295]). Further information on the term v. in [Del Olmo Sheep 184].
Canaanite: Eg.-Syll. ʔi2=-r=ya, ʔi3=ra=ya /ʔêlya ?, ʔayla ?/ [Hoch 29]. // Hoch provides arguments for distinguishing this term from the word for 'stag' (cf. No. ....). See also [ibid. 17, 28] for other Eg.-Syll. renderings regarded by some authors as reflecting the present root.
Hebrew: ʔayil 'ram' [KB 40], pB. [Ja. 48]. // According to [KB], also 'ruler, mighty'. If this identification is correct, cf. also Pho. ʔl 'chief' [T 19] (but cf. already [BDB 17- 18] where Hbr. ʔayil 'ram' and ʔayil 'ruler' are treated as different lexemes).
Judaic Aramaic: ʔēlā 'ram' [Ja. 48], ʔaylā [Levy WTM I 64] (a Hebraism?).
Epigraphic South Arabian: Min. ʔyl 'bélier, bouquetin' [LM 9]. // In MAFRAY-Darb aṣ-Ṣabī 1/14 (b-tys1 w-ʔyl w-mḥrm nfs1). Most probably belongs to this root rather to *ʔayyal- 'stag' for which v. No. ... (discussion).
Tigrai (Tigriñña): ʔilä 'kind of ram' [TA 544].
Jibbali: @ ayyól 'Steinbock' [Bittner 29] (not in [JJ]) Otherwise from *ʔayyal- 'deer'
Notes: Derivation of the present root (or some of its representations) from the verbal root ʔwl 'to be first, foremost' (as proposed, e.g., in [Hoch 30] and [Firmage 1157]) is hardly tenable. // [DRS 17]: *ʔayl- 'bélier' (Akk., Ugr., Pho., Hbr.); [DLU 23]: Ugr., Akk.; [KB 40]: Hbr., Eg.-Syll., Ugr., Akk.; [Hoch 29]: Eg.-Syll., Hbr., Akk., Ugr., Jud., Syr. (ʔaylā, which, however, means 'stag', not 'ram' and does not belong to the present root).

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