From ‘a beggar’ to ‘a boy’. A certain Iranian loanword in Lezgi

As you may know I wrote my master’s thesis about lexical influence of Iranian languages on Lezgi. One of Iranian loanwords in Lezgi, гада [gada] ‘a boy; a young man’ starts to look interesting when you compare it with Persian گدا [gada] ‘a beggar’.

On the surface, such a shift of meaning doesn’t seem very likely. And then, why would a language borrow such a basic word as ‘a boy’?

But, in my opinion, there might be quite likely explanation for this. گدا (beggar) in Persian was a word commonly used in reference to young adepts of Sufi tariqats, as a way to teach them humility. 

Now, Sufism’s huge popularity among the mountain peoples of central and eastern Caucasus (Lezgis among them) meant that at certain times virtually all young men were Sufi disciples.

So the word гада [gada] may have been used first to mean ‘young sufi disciple’ and then since almost all young men were disciples it came to mean ‘a boy; a young man’.

Additional angle: apparently in Tati Persian (spoken in Azerbaijan and Daghestan by descendants of Iranian colonists from ages ago) gada means ‘boy’, too.