Etymology of 'tanU'

Fri Jul 11 04:08:05 UTC 1997

In telugu the reflexive pronuon forms are different from the forms of tanU(=

tanu, tAnu (=oneself) - nominative case
tananu, tannu - accusative
tana (=of one's ownself) - possessive

tanuvu (=body) - nominative
tanuvunu - accusative


At 12:05 AM 7/11/97 BST, you wrote:
>In his article "Lexical Evidence for Early Contacts Between Indo-Aryan and
>Dravidian"  in the book "Aryan and non-Aryan in India" edited by Madhav
>Deshpande and Peter Edwin Hook, 1979,  Franklin Southworth discusses the
>etymology of the Sanskrit word ‘tanU’ as quoted below.
>"The following item is perhaps the most significant of those which I present
>C-10. tanU - ‘body, person, self’ (RV) - Ta. TAn2/tan2 - ‘oneself’
>          (also used as reflexive pronoun)
>We do not find languages borrowing pronouns, though it does occasionally
>happen. All of the cases known to me have occurred in situations of extreme
>linguistic displacement, such as those typical of pidginized languages. This,
>however, appears very close to such a case, although it seems difficult to
>determine the direction of borrowing. The word is deeply embedded in the
>structure of Dravidian, being found in almost all the languages (including
>Brahui), as well as showing an alternation in the length of the stem vowels
>which occurs in other pronouns (see Krishnamurti 1968). Furthermore, the same
>element has been recognized by Emeneau in the terms for younger brother
>(tampi) and younger sister (tankai) which are attested in early Tamil (see
>note 6; also Emeneau 1953). On the Indo-aryan side, the word appears in the
>RgVeda; and there is, furthermore, an Avestan tanU with the same meanings,
>also used as a reflexive, as well as an Old Persian tanUs ‘body, self’ (The
>Persian tan ‘body’ may possibly be the source of Hindi-Urdu tan ‘body’,
>rather than the Sanskrit tanU.) Though there is no clear Indo-European
>etymology for this word, it is hard to imagine the Indo-Iranianists accepting
>it as a loan from Dravidian. And it would be unreasonable to expect
>Dravidianists to concede it as a borrowing from Indo-Aryan.4 The possibility
>of classing it as an accidental resemblence seems to be precluded by the
>closeness in form and meaning. One could perhaps argue for the possibility
>that Indo-Iranian had a word for ‘body’ which accidentally resembled a
>Dravidian pronoun meaning ‘self’, and that the Indo-Iranian word came to be
>used as a reflexive pronoun under the influence of the Dravidian word. (Note
>that Sanskrit Atman- ‘self’ had a similar history, cf. Marathi AplA ‘one’s
>own’, ApaN ‘you’ (formal), Hindi-Urdu apnA ‘one’s own’, Ap ‘you’.) Even such
>a possibility would however, indicate a very close relationship between
>Indo-Aryan and Dravidian at a very early period."
>I propose a theory regarding the etymology of ‘tanU’. In an earlier posting,
>I had pointed out how Dravidian ‘pAvai’ meaning ‘image, pupil of the eye,
>doll, puppet, picture, female, goddess, a long-stemmed plant’ is derived from
>the root ‘pA’ meaning ‘to extend, spread’ and its relationship to Tantrism. I
>think ‘pAvai’ from root  ‘pA’ is the source of the IA-II ‘tanU’ It is a
>simple translation of the Dravidian concept into IA-II if we consider that
>the IA-II root ‘tan’ means ‘to extend, spread’. Now why would one consider
>this to be a borrowing from Dravidian into IA-II and not the other way
>around? The concept of image as an extension of the original is the basis for
the Dravidian religion as discussed in an earlier posting. The aniconic
>religion of the Aryans could not have had this concept. If the meaning
>‘image’ was the basis of the loan translation, it would be understandable to
>have the meaning ‘body’. If early images were made of humans or animals, the
>figurine could be considered as ‘body’ or ‘person’ by metonymy. In a similar
>vein, in Tamil, ‘pAvai’ came to mean ‘females’. This means that ‘tanU’ in its
>physical ‘form’ is derived from IE roots. But semantically it is Dravidian.
>After ‘tanU’ entered the Aryan language as a loan translation, it could have
>acquired the reflexive meaning as Southworth has hypothesized.
>For ‘tanU’ to enter RV and Avestan materials, the borrowing should most
>probably have been pre-Vedic. It could have entered the language of the Dasas
>of the Bronze Age civilization called "Bactria and Margiana Architectural
>Complex" or BMAC  before the proto-RV Aryans came there. In his book
>"Deciphering the Indus Script’ (p.149-152),  Asko Parpola says, "It seems
>that the Proto-Indo-Aryans came into being around the eighteenth century BC,
>during the transition between BMAC I and II, when two distinct, successive
>Aryan tribes seem to have fused together, with a concomitant restructuring of
>religion. A parallel process was the later amalgamation of the
>Proto-Indo-Aryans of Central Asia and of Proto-Iranians in Zarathustra’s
>reform, which reinstituted Ahura<*Asurain place of Indra and other daEvas.
.It has also recently become clear that, for example, the compartmented
>metal seals of Bactria go back to the traditions of the Early Harappan period
>in Baluchistan
  The only possible connection of the BMAC I or the Hissar
>IIIb horizon with the Dasas would be for a small wave of Aryan-speaking
>nomads to have taken over the southern Central asia around 200BC and totally
>adopted the local culture, yet retained their own language
.After their
>assumed conquest of the Dasa forts in Margiana and Bactria around 1700 BC
>(which may have taken place more peacefully than the texts suggest), the
>Sauma Aryans too would have largely adopted the earler local culture, thereby
>transforming the cult of the Asura-worshipping Dasas into the
>pre-Zarathustran Daiva cult (involving the *Sauma drink). Immediately after
>this second cultural fusion had taken place, one group of the resulting
>acculturated Proto-Indo-Aryans branched westwards to Gurgan, and from there
>to northern Syria, becoming the rulers of the Mitanni kingdom, while another
>faction continued (at least partly via Seistan) eastwards to Swat, founding
>there the Proto-Rgvedic (=Proto-Dardic) culture of the Gandhara Grave Culture
>(Ghalegay IV period) (fig.8.24b)."
>When the Dasas retained their language but totally adopted the local culture,
>the chances of their loan-translating a non-native word ‘pAvai’ as ‘tanU’
>could be very high indeed. Then the word could have entered the vocabulary of
>the Proto-Indo-Aryans and then Proto-Iranians as these different groups
>interacted with each other.
>This seems to suggest that the origin of Tantra in its basic aspects was
>clearly pre-Vedic. 
>Any comments would be appreciated.
>S. Palaniappan 

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