pra mit ? - an inquiry

Dominik Wujastyk dom at
Fri Feb 17 20:30:37 UTC 1995

s. kalyanaraman said:

>      mita (according to PaaNini) means 'measured' (root: maa); sometimed 
>      mitra, 'friend' also gets contracted phonetically for e.g.: mit 
>      (Hindi), mitt (Punjabi, Nepali); miit (Kumaoni) also mean 'friend'.

One of my continuing regrets is that the articles of Prof. Thomas
Burrow, my old teacher, have never been gathered and published.  Some of
them are really very good, and he had some startling things to say on
some matters, both linguistic and historical, which never seem to have
made it into the mainstream.

Some of his articles dealt with 'maa' as a root, looking into the PIE
antecedents and paying careful attention to the derivatives in Sanskrit
usage.  He came up with three historically distinct roots 'maa', which
have been conflated since the time of the dhaatupaa.tha.  If I recall
correctly (I read the thing about fifteen years ago) they were 'to make,
create', 'to deceive, make an illusion', and 'to measure'.

I'm sorry that I can't refer you to the articles.  I'm away from my
normal reference works.

>      bhaasin means 'shining' (root: bhaa); e.g. pahaasai = shines (Prakrt); 

No, 'bhaasin' comes from the root 'bhaas'.  'bhaa' is obviously related,
but different.  'bhaati', but 'bhaasate'

Finally, I'd like to refer to Bhart.rhari, who claimed that meaning
resides in whole sentences, and that words are only artificial
abstractions from that unity.  I love etymologizing as much as the next
person, but etymology doesn't teach us about meaning.  All these roots
and parallels are not the primary way to arrive at an understanding of
what something means.

Only sentences can do that, as all lexicographers know well.
Unfortunately, it is a lot more hard work diagnosing large numbers of
appropriate sentences than working with roots and affixes.



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