[INDOLOGY] Brahmin?

Allen Thrasher alanus1216 at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 23 21:04:42 EST 2014

Debabrata Chakrabarti says, "In fact, each and every place name was anglicized by the the British. For some years now the government is replacing the exact transliteration of place names."
That place names and other Indian words were anglicized by the British is no doubt true, for every language is likely to modify foreign words when it takes it into itself.  But it does not follow that in every case they (1) took it into English directly from an Indo-Aryan or Dravidian language rather than from some other, such as Portuguese, Persian, or Arabic, which might already have made its own changes. Nor (2) does it mean that the British or speakers of other languages from outside the Subcontinent came in contact directly with the word as it might be in Sanskrit or some other highly standardized or regulated form of speech. The spelling might represent more closely than some might assume the actual spoken form for a place or concept as they encountered it in speech.  Moreover, the forms being insisted upon by the GOI or others may possibly in some cases be recent _changes_ by way of hypercorrection.  Individual cases have to be investigated.


On Saturday, February 22, 2014 11:09 PM, Dr. Debabrata Chakrabarti <dchakra at hotmail.de> wrote:

Dear Sir,
What I assume
from the word ''Brahmin' is that it is purely an anglicized form of 'Brahman'.
Whether it was Francocized is difficult to determine. 'Bragmen' may arise for
listening to North Indian pronunciation/dialects, which emphasizes 'h' , and ‘in’ might arise for pronouncing cerebral ‘n’. 
In fact,
each and every place name was anglicized by the British. For some years now the
government is replacing the exact transliteration of place names. Thus ‘Burdwan’
has become ‘Bardhaman’, etc. – all names ending in ‘pur’ were pronounced  ‘pore’ by the British.  
Debabrata Chakrabarti

“This body
is like a musical instrument; what you hear depends upon how you play it.” –
Anandamayi Ma  
every human being there exists a special heaven, whole and unbroken.” -

Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2014 17:36:37 -0800
From: alanus1216 at yahoo.com
To: whitakjl at wfu.edu; indology at list.indology.info
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Brahmin?

No one seems to have addressed Jarrod's query whether the *in comes from Persian or Arabic.  Can anyone address what the possible words for brahmana are in these?  

Also, Hobson-Jobson s.v. Brahmin cites early Portuguese examples with *en: in the lural Brahmenes (Camoes, 1572) and in the singular Bragmen (Acosta, 1578).  See the online H-J at http://tinyurl.com/mmodvxs


On Thursday, February 20, 2014 3:09 PM, Jarrod Whitaker <whitakjl at wfu.edu> wrote:
Dear Colleagues:
When does the word "B/brahmin" ("priest, priestly class") with a final 
"-in" begin to be used/appear? I have always assumed that it appeared 
with the colonial encounter and thus it was a Anglocized (perhaps 
Franco-cized?) way of representing the final short schwa sound of 
"brahman". Does it have an older history in Arabic/Mughal writing? It 
surely is not a final Sanskrit "-in" stem (I have never heard of a 
Brahmii priest), but perhaps it has a regional/dialect use somewhere in 

Silly question but frustrating nonetheless when trying to unpack the 
complex use of the term brahman and its various
 meanings to students and 
the fact that textbooks are not uniform in how they represent the term 
and its derivatives (B/braahmaan.a [and more rarely Braahman. with final 
retroflex "n," which is curious in and of itself], B/brahman, or, of 
course our current Brahmin....[throw into the mix lower case, sometimes 
italicized brahman from Upanishads and god Brahmaa and students think 
you are just messing with them]).


Jarrod Whitaker, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, South Asian Religions
Zachary T. Smith Faculty Fellow
Graduate Program Director

Wake Forest University
Department of Religion
P.O. Box 7212
Winston-Salem, NC  27109
whitakjl at wfu.edu
p 336.758.4162

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