Derivation of word "Hindu"

D.H. Killingley D.H.Killingley at
Mon Jun 16 13:46:05 UTC 1997

I am glad to see this thread elevated from the tangle it fell into 
earlier. But there is one thing that has always puzzled me:

	The ancient Iranians presumably did not have the sound-changes of
historical philology in their heads. So when they heard of the river
called Sindhu, why did they call it _hindu_ and not, say, *_sindu_ (since
Avestan and other ancient Iranian languages do have initial s, cognate
with the Sanskrit palatal fricative)? 

	Thieme, quoted in Mayrhofer's _Kurzgefasstes_, seems to be right 
in taking _hindu_ as a common noun, not as a place-name, whether or not 
he is right in interpreting it as 'the frontier'. It would then be 
understandable that they should use their own word rather than a foreign 
one of similar but different form.

	Or did the sound change s>h take place after the Iranians had 
settled in Iran and come to know the Indus by the name _sindhu_?

Dr Dermot Killingley
Dept of Religious Studies
University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU
Phone 0191 222 6730    Fax 0191 222 5185

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