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39.4.Weiss

Scholars are divided over whether Latin has one or two words of the shape ora. The form ōra, well attested in all stages of Latinity, means ‘end, border, edge’ and has a plausible cognate in Hitt. arḫaš ‘border’, but ora—the quantity of the o is unknown—also occurs in the meaning ‘hawser’ in Livy and Quintilian. Are the latter examples tokens of a different word (so Walde and Hoffmann 1938:219) or are they somehow metaphorical extensions of ōra ‘border’? In this paper I argue that ora‘hawser’ is indeed the same word as ōra ‘border’ and explain how this particular metonymy arose in the technical language of sailors. The same polysemy is found in a number of other languages, most famously in Greek where the two senses of πεá¿–ραρ ‘end’ and ‘rope’ have elicited much discussion. I show that all meanings of this form can be plausibly derived from an original meaning ‘crossing, transition’, which is to be expected given the semantics of the root *per- ‘cross through’ (OAv. frafrā ‘I will cross over’, etc.).

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