The origin of the name "Tarot"?

#1
Hi Mike, et alii,
mikeh wrote: Your choice is 1; Ross's is 2; mine is 3. Now, what are the probabilities? I see I will have to get a copy of Game of Tarot from somewhere. I don't know if it will help.
I'll have to rethink this theory - I haven't revisited it in years.

The Game of Tarot won't help you with this question, since Dummett was unaware of it in 1980. But you should have a copy, for sure. It is the foundational text for Tarot history. Dummett then believed the earliest record of Tarot in France to be in Rabelais, 1534. The earliest known occurence of the word "tarocchi" was Ferrara, 1517. Dummett's hypothesis at the time was that the game called triumphs was changed to tarot/tarocchi because at some point in the late 15th century a game played with regular cards took the name "triumph", using a changeable trump suit (usually turning over the next card after dealing a hand, like in so many trumping games), and overtook in popularity the original game of Triumphs. So tarot - the original triumphs - had a name change which made it clear that it wasn't this more popular game.

I can't recall if Dummett speculates about the meaning of the name - I'll check when the morning is older.

Historically, Dummett's theory was that the French invasions of Charles VIII (1494) and Louis XII (1499) introduced French soldiers and camp followers to the game, which they brought back to France. Judging from his remarks on this subject in A History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack (2004), he still holds to this basic idea, although he has known the 1505 Avignon reference since the 1990s. To me it seems implausible for Avignon to be exporting taraux cards to Pinerolo, near Turin (this is the 1505 reference), so shortly after this presumed first encounter of the French to the game. Moreover, while Charles VIII's army marched through Milanese territory (the invasion was abetted by Ludovico ("il moro") Sforza), they never "fought for possession of the city" of Milan, as Dummett mistakenly believes (HGT, p. 111). Charles VIII's adventure in Italy lasted only 10 months, not counting the stay of a small French garrison in Naples until 1497. Naples was the main objective in any case. So, the case for the French troops of Charles VIII to have familiarized themselves with the Milanese game from 1494 seems weak. The real French presence in Milan dates from the end of 1499, under the real claimant to Milan, Louis XII, and this gives only six years for Tarot production and export to Italian Savoy (Piedmonte) to begin.

My theory is otherwise, that it was the French invasion of 1499 that brought the French game to Milan, accounting for the C order's presence there in the first half of the 16th century, first attested by Andrea Alciato in 1543.

The story of the 1505 reference begins in 1955, when Hyacinthe Chobaut published an article "Les maître-cartiers d'Avignon". He noted that there was a reference to "cartes communément appelées taraux" (cards colloquially known as taraux) in a record there. Chobaut neglected to provide a transcription of the original document in his appendices however. Thierry Depaulis rediscovered Chobaut's article in the late 1980s and tried, in vain, to find the reference. A few years later however, an archivist in Avignon with whom Thierry had been working, found the reference - for 1505, not 1507! So the error was either Chobaut's or the typsetter's, but in any case the story had a happy ending.

Meanwhile, Adriano Fransceschini, in his work on the Este archives in the early 1990s, had come across two Ferrarese references to tarochi [sic] in 1505 as well.

Thierry presented the Avignon discovery in an article - "Des "cartes communément appelées taraux"", The Playing-Card, vol. 32, n° 5, March-April 2004, p. 199-205 + n° 6, May-June 2004, p. 244-249.
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

#2
Hi Marcos,

I'm not sure how you imagine "taraux" was pronounced. Thierry Depaulis believes that it would be like modern French tarot - i.e. the final consonant is silent: tar-o.

I hesitate to disagree with him, but I'm not sure it was true in Avignon nor in Savoy, where the name was often spelled "tarocs" (tarocchi in the Italian part of Savoy - Piedmonte - obviously). I'm not sure of the earliest occurence of this word - that'll take some research (starting with Thierry's little book Cartes et cartiers dans les anciens états de Savoie (1400-1860) IPCS Papers no. 4, 2005). I think this word shows at least a link between the French pronunciation, which tends to drop final "c" and "t", and the Italian, which retains the final "c". I don't have conclusive proof of how the dialect in Savoy pronounced this word.

In any case it is never "tarosk", which you seem to want - the only possible pronunciation is "taroks".

The origin of the word is still a matter of controversy, despite the popularity of the Arabic tarh > tare ("deduction") etymology.

The Italian writer Berni, in 1524, offered that tarocco meant "foolish, stupid, simple". It was believed that he was only making up a meaning based on the sound of other Italian words - sciocco etc. But I found it used in the late 15th century by the poet Bassano Mantovano (writing in Milan) as "tarocus" (sometimes given as "tarochus") meaning the same thing - a fool, an idiot. Since then Thierry Depaulis has also found some examples showing that a group of words in Proveçal and Catalan with the sound "taroc" mean the same thing. They seem to derive from a word meaning a stump or block of wood, thus used metaphorically for an idiot, a block-head; like we say in English, "dumb as a post". So the sense is "dumb as a stump".

Why would this be given as the name of former Triumph cards? We can only guess at this point. I suggested once that it meant "crazy cards" - since they were larger and had many more cards than the regular pack. But another good suggestion is that it refers to the Fool in the game, which no other game has (the Joker was invented indepently in the US only in the 19th century). I mean the special card depicting a fool, with his special role, and not the depiction of Unters or other regular cards as fools, which of course some packs, especially German ones, of course have.
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

#3
(this is something I compiled in 2006)

Spellings of the name of "Tarot" in history.

Is there a significance to different spellings? Do they show that the word's pronunciation in French has changed since its first known recording, or was it the same as it is today?

Concerning the pronunciation of "taraux", in a letter to me (9 March 2005), Thierry Depaulis once explained that:

"I think it was pronounced as today: this is why spellings could vary between taraults, taraux, tarots, tarotz, taraulx... They all sounded like /taro/. (At least in "standard" Middle-French.)"

First, we might try to compile as exhaustive a list of occurrences as we can at the present, to see if any patterns emerge. Here is a list drawn up from the few sources I have on hand:

(Abbreviated sources - (D'Allemagne) H.-R. D'Allemagne, "Les cartes à jouer du XIVe au XXe siècle", Paris, 1906; (K) S. Kaplan, "Encyclopedia of Tarot" vols. I (1978) and II (1986); (VxP) T. Depaulis, "Roger de Gaignières et ses tarots", _Le Vieux Papier_, fasc. 301 (July 1986) pp. 117-124; (TJM) T. Depaulis, "Tarot: jeu et magie", Paris, 1984; (MA) M. Dummett, "Il Mondo e l'Angelo", Napoli, Bibliopolis, 1993; (Depaulis 2004) T. Depaulis, _Des "cartes communément appelées taraux"_, "The Playing Card" XXXII, 5 (2004), pp. 199-205, and XXXII, 6, pp. 244-249; (SSII) Schweizer Spielkarten 2, 2005)

I. Documentary sources

1505. Avignon. Taraux (anonymous account-keeper; Chobaut, Depaulis)
1534. Lyon. Tarau (Rabelais (southerner) MA 131)
1553. Paris. Tarault (Estienne; MA 131)
1559. Paris. Tarot. Tarots (Neux, Depaulis (VxP); MA 131)
c.1560 Paris. Tarots (Christophe de Bordeaux; MA 132)
1564. ?. 1565. Lyon. Tarots (Ps.(?)-Rabelais; MA 132)
1576. Paris. Tarot (Champenois (Straparola); MA 132)
1578. Lyon. Tarots (Guil. des Autels; MA 132)
1579. Paris. Tarots (Ladurie; MA 132-3)
1579. Saint-André (Toulouse). Tarots (Garrisson-Estèbe (1980); MA 133)
1583. Paris. Tarots (Tabourot; MA 133)
1583. Paris. Tarot (Gauchet; MA 133)
1583. Paris. Tarotz (Henri III; MA 133-4)
1585. Paris. Tarots (Perrache; MA 134)
1585. ?. Taraux (Cholières; MA 134)
1592. London. Tarots (Delamothe; MA 134)
1594. Paris. Tarots. Tarotz (Henri IV; D'Allemagne II, 60-62)
1595. ?. Tarot (Le Poulchre; MA 134)
1599. Nancy. Taraulx (Duke Charles III; D'Allemagne II, 212-213; MA 353)
1607. Oxford. Taraux (Cleland; MA 134-5)
1613. Paris. Tarots (Louis XIII; D'Allemagne, II, 64)
1622. Paris. Tarots (Garasse; MA 135)
1622. Lyon. Tarotz (D'Allemagne II, 246)
1637. Paris. Tarots (De Marolles)
1640. Paris. Tarocs ou Tarots (Antoine Oudin, "Recherches Italiennes et Françoises" s.v. "Tarrocchi")
1650. Lyon. Taros (D'Allemagne II, 258)
1659. Paris. Taros (Maison Academique des Jeux)
1694. Paris. Tarots (Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française)
1727. Paris. Tarots (René Hérault; D'Allemagne, II, 78-83)
1768. Paris. Tareau, Taro (Dictionnaire de la langue Romane, ou du vieux langage François)
1771. Paris. Tarots (Dictionnaire universelle françois et latin, vlugairement appelé Dictionnaire de Trévoux)

21 mentions in 16th century:
9 Tarots
5 Tarot
2 Taraux
2 Tarotz (multiple times; interchangable with "tarots" in Paris)
1 Tarau
1 Tarault
1 Taraulx

34 up to 18th century:
16 Tarots
4 Tarot
3 Taraux
3 Tarotz
2 Taros
1 Tarocs
1 Tarau
1 Tarault
1 Taraulx
1 Tareau
1 Taro

II. Tarot packs, 18-19th century (letters refer to current borders, not necessarily accurate for historical purposes (B)Belgium; (D)Germany; (F)France; (I)Italy; (S)Switzerland)

Taros (Héri, early 18th c., Soleure (S); K II, 318)
Tarots (Madenié, c. 1709, Dijon (F); K II, 315)
Taros (J.-P. Mayer, c.1730, Constance(D); TJM no.45 (p. 75), KII, 325; SSII, no.29 (p. 174))
Taros (Hautot, 1723-48, Rouen (F); K II, 323)
Taraut (Antoine Jar, 18th c., Bouvignes-sur-Meuse (B); K II, 329)
Taros (Thomasset, 1731, Murten (Morat)(S); K II, 319)
Taros (Laudier, 1746, Strasbourg (F); TJM no. 44 (p. 74))
Tarrau/Terrau (anon.,1755, Coppet (F or S); SS II, 21-22, 99 (cf. Carrajat 1786)
Taraut (Dupont, 1766, Brussels (B); K II, 207)
Tareau (Ignaz Krebs, 18th c., Friburg im Bresgau; Piatnik repr. 1984, K II, 214)
Tarot (Paiche, 1780, Berne (S); K II, 334)
Taros (Rochus II Schaer, 1783, Mümliswil (S); SS II, no. 4 (p. 124)) Tarrau/Terrau (Carrajat, 1786, Chambéry(F)(engr. Milan?); K II, 210,335)
Taros (Hans Buolmann, l.18th c., Unterwalden(S); SS II, no. 31 (p. 178))
Taros (J.-B. II Benois, l.18th c., Strasbourg(F); SS II, no. 24 (p. 164))
Taros (Conrad Iseli, l. 18th c., Soleure (S); K II, 331)
Taraut (Galler, l. 18th c., Brussels (B); K I, 153)
Taros (Carey, 1793-1800, Strasbourg; TJM no. 47 (p. 76))
Taros (Ignace Crelier, 1791-1803, Porrentruy (S); D'Allemagne, I, 186)
Tarots (Jerger, e. 19th c., Besançon (F); TJM no.48 (pp.76-77); K II, 211)
Taroques (Draghi, e. 19th c., Finale (I); K II, 220)

Constance (Konstanze) German-Swiss (incl. Strasbourg) -
Taros (10)
Tarot (1)

Friburg im Bresgau
Tareau (1)

Rouen -
Taros (1)

Brussels (Bruxelles) close to Bouvignes -
Taraut (3)

Besançon-Dijon (close together) -
Tarots (2)

Italian with French titles -
Tarrau/Terrau ("terrau" is obviously an error; Carrajat's plates were earlier used, in 1755, by an anonymous cardmaker in Coppet (France or Switzerland))
Taroques

The most common spelling in this brief survey is "Tarots", occuring both in texts and on cards, with 18 instances (more if the interchangable "tarotz" is included).

"Taros" has 13 occurences.

"Tarot" occurs 4 times.

Clearly the plural form was preferred for most of the time of the terms' usage.

I believe that the inescapable conclusion is that, in French, no matter how it was spelled, the word was always pronounced "taro". In Liguria, it might have been Italianized, which is indicated by Draghi's "taroques" (pronounced "tar-roak").

What about the origins of the word? Does it means something, or is it nonsense?

The regular pack with French suits was far more common than the Latin suited. The game of "Triumph" was played with this pack, and the original game of "Triumphs", with the Latin-suited pack with 22 Trump cards, was much more obscure. The "Tare pack" was the *undeducted* pack, the "full pack", since it was larger. Some French dialects used the word "taro" for this, and it is this that was applied to the pack in France.

Tarau (sing.)- Taraux (plur.)

"Taraux" is a printed name, a brand name. It would have been pronounced "taro".

Tarau - Taraut (sing.)
to
Taro-Taros
Tarot-Tarots
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

#4
I want to point out this spelling -
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: Taroques (Draghi, e. 19th c., Finale (I); K II, 220)

I believe that the inescapable conclusion is that, in French, no matter how it was spelled, the word was always pronounced "taro". In Liguria, it might have been Italianized, which is indicated by Draghi's "taroques" (pronounced "tar-roak").
It also turns up in 16th century Spain -
One month later (August 1568) they report the public sale of these cards in Valencia, and they are called in Italian “Tarroqui” and in Spanish “Taroques”:
[…] annos auisado q en Valençia se venden publicamente y que en esa corte los ay entre los estrangeros y que juegan con ellos. Llamanse en ytaliano tarroqui y en español taroques
http://ludustriumphorum.blogspot.com/20 ... -16th.html

I think the Spanish should be "tar-O-kes" or "tar-O-kays", but I'm not sure of the Ligurian Draghi - tar-O-kay? Or just like the Spanish two centuries earlier? What is interesting is that the Spanish sources indicate two sources of Tarot packs - Italy and France. Did the Spanish "translate" the Italian "tarocchi" into a pseudo-Spanish "taroques" (plural and all), or does the Spanish reflect the pronunciation of the name they received from the French players and importers?
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

#5
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:They seem to derive from a word meaning a stump or block of wood, thus used metaphorically for an idiot, a block-head; like we say in English, "dumb as a post". So the sense is "dumb as a stump".
Hi Ross
Do you accept the possibility of this now? When I previously suggested it was derived from tarocch meaning 'trunk' 'stump' 'block of wood' to be found in the Milanese dialect and used figurative to denote a fool (blockhead, loggerhead) you summarily dissmissed it as unrelated homonyms unworthy of discussion in the history thread and asking the nonsense be carried on in the unicorn thread (and here we are).

Is there any where we can find further information on Thierry Depaulis's examples showing the group of words in Proveçal and Catalan with the sound "taroc" meaning the same thing? Has he published these anywhere in print or online?
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

#6
SteveM wrote: Do you accept the possibility of this now? When I previously suggested it was derived from tarocch meaning 'trunk' 'stump' 'block of wood' to be found in the Milanese dialect and used figurative to denote a fool (blockhead, loggerhead) you summarily dissmissed it as unrelated homonyms unworthy of discussion in the history thread and asking the nonsense be carried on in the unicorn thread (and here we are).
I see this was in the "Building blocks of Tarot history" thread. It seems you have a selective memory about what part of this discussion I disagreed with, unless I didn't read enough of it. I admitted the stump=fool connection from the beginning. What I found, and still find, unconvincing is the theory that taroch=stump=tree of life=first and last Adam interpretation of the whole pack that you were promoting.

Can you show me where I summarily dismissed tarocch=fool/blockhead and asked that discussions about it be brought to the Unicorn Terrace, since this is what you are claiming I did? Or was it the First/Last Adam part, which you left out in the quote above?
Is there any where we can find further information on Thierry Depaulis's examples showing the group of words in Proveçal and Catalan with the sound "taroc" meaning the same thing? Has he published these anywhere in print or online?
I don't believe he's published this anywhere.

I don't have my notes from him at hand immediately. I don't want to misrepresent him, so I won't claim any more, but I'll come back when I have them, to clarify and correct.
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

#7
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: I see this was in the "Building blocks of Tarot history" thread. It seems you have a selective memory about what part of this discussion I disagreed with, unless I didn't read enough of it. I admitted the stump=fool connection from the beginning. What I found, and still find, unconvincing is the theory that taroch=stump=tree of life=first and last Adam interpretation of the whole pack that you were promoting.
In that thread you asked:
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:Where does "tarocch" mean "bloodline" or "tree of life", and why would they spell it like that, when using the "h" after a "c" in Italian serves the sole purpose of making sure that the reader knows the "c" is hard just before an "e" or an "i" (i.e. a plural)? (that's why "tarocco" becomes "tarocchi"). In other words, why a double "cc" with an "h"? If it's not Italian, why a double c?
to which I replied:

Tarocch is given as a synonym of

Tronco: a trunk, a stock, a log, a block, a stump, a stem without boughes. Also a bodie without a head. Also a troncheon or a bat. Also a loggerheaded felow, a block-headed dunce, a heauie-nole.

Pedale: a foote, a base, a foundation, the stocke or roote of a tree or any thing else, a foote-stale, a foote-stoole, a supporter, a stake or forke to beare vp any vine, hops, or trees, a prop, or stay. Also the measure or space of a foote. Also a mans stocke, wealth, or substance. Also socks, or thin dancing pumps. Vsed also for a mans off-spring, stocke, lineage, blood, or descent.

Toppo: a counterbuffe, a counter shocke at tilt./ Related to Toppáre ~ to counter-shocke or giue a counter-buffe. Also to finde or meete withall by chance. Also to snatch or take away. Also to set, to cast at, to plaie at or hold the by or vie at any game namely at dice. Also to put to a dore and make it fast with a haspe or latch or wodden locke. / A tóppogiuócare a tóppo, to play at gresco or hazzard, and then to set at euery chance or cast, or to set and cast at the by.

Chantier: m. A Wood-mongers, or Tymber-sellers, yard; also, a Staulder, or Wood-pile; also, a Vine-supporting pole, or stake (whether it stand vpright, or lye, as a crosse barre, ouerthwart; and (hence) also, as Treillis, or a rayle for the same purpose; also, a Stoope, or Pile, vnderpropping the banke of a riuer; also, a Gauntrie, or Stilling, for Hogs heads, &c. to stand on; also, a Tresle to saw Tymber on.

Chicot. A stub, or stumpe; or as Chiquot: m. A scale in the root, or end of a nayle; also, a sprig, or shoot of a tree; also, the stumpe of a tooth

Souche: f. The stock, trunke, or bodie of a tree; a log; also, the maine stock, or direct line of a pedegree, progenie, or familie; also, as Souchet; or, the root of the wild, or English Galingale. Souche commune. The descent of many brothers or cousens, from one father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother. Tant que tige fait souche, elle ne branche iamais.
You dismissed the word as a homonym, while accepting the fool connection, which didn't make much sense to me as it was the one and same word, not two, meaning trunk, block, stump that was used figuratively to mean a fool, blockhead, loggerhead, dunce.

You replied:
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
SteveM wrote: Its Milanese dialect:

The Vocabolario milanese-italiano-francese by Eugenio Cappelletti (1848) gives as Italian and French synonyms of the Milanese Tarocch:

Tarocch. Tarocco, germini, minchiate. Tarots.

Tarocch. Borra, pedale, toppo, tronco. Tranc, grosse souche de bois, f., chantier, chicot m.
You could have saved yourself the trouble by sticking with the first definition.

Homonyms are common in every language, and a dialectical dictionary isn't recommended to base an attempt at scientific etymology on. In other words, there is no necessary relationship, whatever bits you cherry pick to base your story on, between these two words and the two spellings of these words. They spelled the words the way they heard them.

The dictionary is certainly late enough (1848) to allow for both identical homonyms to have developed, as well as to be unreliable for the state of things like a dialect in the year 1500.

"Tarocco" also means a kind of orange in Sicilian - can you squeeze that meaning in somewhere? Maybe that was the true fruit of the Tree of Life?

But the "idiot" part is accurate, and probably relates to the original etymology.

Steve, if you are seriously proposing this scenario, I can't continue this discussion anywhere but the Unicorn Terrace.

Ross
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

#8
Words can be homonyms, even etymologically related, without their meanings being the same or intended to have a double meaning by those who use them. Usually people don't know the etymologies, proposed or established, of the words they use.

A word like tarocco and tarocus/tarochus, with the sense of "blockhead", "idiot" or "fool", may have borrowed that meaning figuratively. The etymological root or "original sense" of the word might have been just stump, trunk or an inert piece of wood - thus including an idiot in the meaning is expanding the semantic range. The words mean different things, even if they are etymologically related.

I don't "accept" it, I just find it plausible. This is better than finding it implausible. I still don't know what is the best explanation of the name, but if I had to bet I would say it has to do with taroc as "fool" - and not as "tree trunk".

The important thing is that it isn't wise to assume that anyone who uses the word knows what its etymology might be, and intends the double meaning to exist. Speculations about the intentions of the inventor of the word as applied to the game of Tarot or the Tarot pack do belong in the Unicorn Terrace, and not in the Building Blocks thread.

I'm happy to propose my theories and speculations here as well.
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

#9
Imagining a literate designer* along the nature of the poet inventers of other cards games of a similar nature I ask myself why, of all the synonyms for 'fool', tarocch should be chosen, and one of the possibilities to consider is the potential for a play on words, such as a poet may delight in, allowing a semantic range such as the given synonyms such as tronco and the rest suggest.

In reference to tarocch's possible meaning of both a fool, block-headed dunce and a piece of wood in the Milanese dialect, we may note also that the description of being nothing more than 'a piece of wood without feeling' was a common sentiment made by 'fools of christ' in the hagiographies of the period (for example, Symeon, St. Andrew).

The identity of the fool with a piece of wood is also to be found in the common implement of the fool, his hobby horse or marotte stick, a stick of wood with a fool's head.

Blockhead

I am just a piece of wood
that has no feeling:
trunk of the Tree of Life with
seventy seven branches.

Freed from the bonds of this world
I laugh at its prince:
drink his wine, dance his tunes,
for they mean nothing to me.

Let the Devil play his trump:
I shall play the Fool for Christ.

SteveM
* adapting (or merely renaming according to a personal interpretation) a pre-existing set of triumphs in which s/he has detected or seen the possibily of such a set of correspondences.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

#10
SteveM wrote:Imagining a literate designer along the nature of the poet inventers of other cards games of a similar nature I ask myself why, of all the synonyms for 'fool', tarocch should be chosen, and one of the possibilities to consider is the potential for a play on words, such as a poet may delight in, allowing a semantic range such as the given synonyms such as tronco and the rest suggest.

In reference to tarocch's possible meaning of both a fool, block-headed dunce and a piece of wood in the Milanese dialect, we may note also that the description of being nothing more than 'a piece of wood without feeling' was a common sentiment made by 'fools of christ' in the hagiographies of the period (for example, Symeon, St. Andrew).

The identity of the fool with a piece of wood is also to be found in the common implement of the fool, his hobby horse or marotte stick, a stick of wood with a fool's head.
We may also note that the word 'Tarocch' has a similar semantic range to the Greek word Xylon*:

quote: notes in italic mine
The meanings of the word "ξύλον" are classified under five headings:
I. wood cut and ready for use, firewood, timber (in these senses the word is usually in the plural);
II. piece of wood, log, beam, post or an object made of wood, such as a spoon, the Trojan horse, a cudgel or club, an instrument of punishment (a collar for someone's neck, stocks to confine his feet or to confine his neck, arms and legs, a gallows to hang him, or a stake to impale him), a table, a bench as in the theatre;
III. a tree and is the word used in the Greek testaments for the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.
IV. a blockhead or a stubborn person; a person 'without feeling' as for example, 'fools for christ' were described, specifically in relation to being 'like a piece of wood'.
V. A unit of measurement
end quote

Showing, if nothing else, the figurative association between a piece of wood and a blockhead is an old one that goes back to at least Greek in the time of the Gospels, as we have found in the word tarocch in Milanese, and also as Taroc in Catalan and Provencal according to Thierry (as reported by Ross).

SteveM
*Xylon is one of the two words used in the Greek testament to refer to the gibbet upon which Christ was crucified. A word, synonymous with Tarocch, that has undergone a 1000 years plus of exegesis and Christian typological interpretation: at a level of wordplay surpassing to the nth degree that which Ross finds at all remotely plausible for its Milanese, Catalan, Provencal synonym Tarocch.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

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