hindu once again

Lars Martin Fosse l.m.fosse at internet.no
Sun Jun 15 09:26:24 UTC 1997

A few remarks on the word Hindu = Sindhu etc.

Hindu is not a Persian *misspelling* of Sindhu. It represents the natural
phonetic development in ancient Iranian of the original *sindhu. In Awestan,
initial *s becomes h in front of vowels. 

The words "indus, indikus (Latin) / indos, indikos (Greek)" must have come
to Western Europe via Greek in the Hellenistic period. That is when the
Greeks "drop their h'es". (I assume that if the word had entered Greek at an
earlier stage, the Latin version might have been hindus, although this is
strictly speaking not absolutely necessary). Consequently, Persian hindu-
(the change from dh > d is also typical of Iranian) would become indo- in a
Greek mouth. In this shape the word also got into Latin from Greek. 

The word hindustaan vs. an imagined Skt. *sindhusthaana contains three
Iranian phonetic features: s- > h-, -dh- > -d- and -th- > -t-. In India,
Hindustaan is therefore a Persian loan-word (which may be why Indians prefer
to call their country Bharat. Originally, the area inhabited by the aryans
was called Aryavarta, which is exactly the same as Iranian Airyanam varsha,
which has developed into the modern name, Iran).

Combining hi (malaya) + (bi) ndu => hindu is a flight of fancy quite typical
of similar flights of fancy that are regularly found in the Puranas. The
ancient Indians had an excellent understanding of grammar and phonetics as
systemic structures (Panini proves that to total satisfaction), but they did
not have inkling of an idea about historical linguistics and the
relationship between languages on a larger scale. Therefore, puranic
statements of this kind have no value whatsoever.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo

Tel: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: L.M.Fosse at internet.no
Mobile phone: 90 91 91 45

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