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Old 06-09-2015, 12:33 PM   #1
Icelander's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Arabic-derived Titles for Cavalry Units

In my fantasy game, a PC has successfully raised a large cavalry army from his relations, unemployed soldiers, various allied raiders, bandit chieftains and other adventurers.

These come from a nation which may perhaps best be imagined as similar to the medieval culture around the cities of the Silk Road, i.e. Central Asian, maybe Bactrian or Sogdian people who have adopted an Arabic-esque language and a Muslim-esque religion. Their language has a fair number of Indo-Aryan influences, as there are still many Indo-Aryan-esque tribes living nearby who haven't adopted the Muhjuri* language or the Muhjari** religion.

Turkic-esque and Slavic-esque peoples to the north and east have variously been enemies or trading partners and have left some loanwords, particularly in aspects of political and military organisation. Mostly, however, this is confined to words which came down to all these cultures, allegedly from a civilisation which held all of these nations in virtual slavery, calling on them frequently for troops and tribute. This was, however, some several thousands of years ago.

While their neighbours have broken free from any vestige of connection to the fallen empire and embraced nomandic ways, in the process mostly inventing new origin stories for their peoples and going through a couple of dozen processes of ethnogenesis on the great steppes as a new tribal confederation arises, the Murghein have always counted both pastoralists and city-dwellers among their number. When a great catastrophe brought down the civilisation that they originally served, they rebuilt the ruins as best they could.

The conversion to Muhjari was the result of a peaceful process, as educated and organised people of that faith, speaking the Muhjuri language, emigrated to the lands of the proto-Murghein after the empire that first claimed them had fallen. Since then, they've been conquered several times, by different empires, but never culturally subjugated. Mostly, they've been required to give over horses as tribute and to serve as cavalry.

As a result of having been a province of one great empire or another for a long time, expected to provide cavalry for their armies, the rural people of Murghom have a very Cossack-esque political organisation, with elected atamen for each village who also command the warriors of that village in warfare.***

Most of the men recruited by the PC in my game are from the desert regions in the south of Murghom. The Arab-esque stock that mixed with the Bactrian/Sogdian/Tocharian-esque peoples already in Murghom to produce the modern Murghein is strong with them and they speak a purer Arabic-esque language than others in the nation. As a result, I want to use Arabic terms, as much as possible, for titles, names and unit appellations. Unfortunately, I'm no good at Arabic and the Internet generally wants to translate into Arabic script, which I can't read.

[tl; dr:
Can people help me with Arabic terms transliterated into the Latin alphabet?]

With that long prologue out of the way, here are my questions:

1) What would be a good Arabic term for mounted rangers or cavalry scouts; experienced desert horsemen who obey military discipline and are trained to report on items significant to military intelligence?

2) What does one call irregular desert raiders in Arabic?

3) The Arabic word 'faris' refers to a 'horseman' or even 'knight'. What is the plural of 'faris'?

4) For professional cavalry that does not have the social advantages of those termed 'faris', what would be a good Arabic term? How would one modify it, say to be 'Light' or 'Heavy'?

5) I understand 'Khayl' refers to horses in the collective sense and to the cavalry as a mass in medieval Arab writings, but I'm unsure how to apply it to a unit. Can one use Khayl al-Rimah to mean 'Cavalry of the Spears', i.e. Lancers, or is there a better way to say 'Lancers' in Arabic?

6) The units I know I want and am trying to find a good name for in Arabic are:
a) 1st al-Zindalankh**** ?Lancer? Kurin.***** [Shock cavalry, armoured, carrying long spears used as lances, small heart-shaped shields and swords as sidearms. Some have javelins or heavy darts.]
b) 2nd Bani Ghazni****** ?Medium Cavalry? Kurin. [Medium cavalry, most trained for shock action, but prefer to skirmish and raid. Mostly unarmoured, great mixture of armaments, with maybe 1/5 capable of horse-archery and the majority of the rest adept at throwing jarids from the saddle.]
c) 3rd al-Khuld ?Ranger? Kurin. [Light cavalry from the desert outskirts, some horse archers, all good scouts.]
d) 4th Raurin ?Ranger? Kurin. [Light cavalry from the stony desert to the east, by the steppes, mostly composed of Indo-Aryan hill and mountain tribesmen, hardened by raiding and warfare with steppe nomads.]

**Muslim-esque in superficial ways, in that it is an austere monotheistic religion from a desert culture which encompasses both laws for secular and religious behaviour, but theologically not all that similar.
***Aging or unmartial atamen send their Amir naib or lieutenant to lead their kurin into battle for their suzerains.
****Zindalankh is the city where the PC's father is Emir and most of the men in this heavy cavalry regiment are recruited from there.
*****A kurin is a regiment of cavalry, around 500 men. The desert tribes are apt to call it a Katiba instead.
******The tribe from which most of these cavalrymen are raised.
Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!
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arabic, forgotten realms, language

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