Wednesday 10 November 2010

Taliban Classes

Taliban means students, but class means called to battle.

Taliban means students. There's an Arabic word tālib, meaning student, and, if you make that into a Pashtun plural, you get taliban. This is because the Taliban were, originally, just a small group of religious students who wanted to clean up Kandahar. They then got carried away, as capering students often do, and invaded Kabul.

Class, on the other hand, means those called to fight. There was a Proto Indo European word *kele, that meant, shout. From that the Romans got the verb calare, meaning call to arms. The early Roman population were always getting called to arms. When there were calared, the male population would form up as a c[a]lassis, and set off to find some Sabine women to rape.

The Roman king Servius Tullius divided the Romans into six classes so that he could tax them more efficiently, and so classis then came to mean a group. A classis could still be a military group like an army or a fleet, in the same way that an English division can still be military. But class could just be a part of a whole. Thus a school or a society could be broken up into classes, and the animal kingdom could be classified.

Incidentally, the reason that they are classified ads, is that they are arranged by subject, just as the Roman subjects were arranged for battle.

The Inky Fool found cross-dressing was much less fun in Kabul

1 comment:

  1. Calendar also comes from calare, no, or at least from Greek kaleo (surely cognate), as the Kalends were the first day of the month, when everyone was called together to learn when the Nones and Ides would be. But what about the classics? Another meaning of classis is fleet; are the classical authors our fleet of surviving ancients? Or are they read because they were put into a certain class, that is, of authors we ought to read?