Derivation of word "Hindu"

D.H. Killingley D.H.Killingley at
Tue Jun 17 11:19:35 UTC 1997

That was the point of my query. Usually when a place-name is adopted by
foreigners, they form a derivative of the indigenous name. But in this
case, the Iranians seem to have used a cognate, not a derivative. 

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

On Mon, 16 Jun 1997, Jacob Baltuch wrote:

> >        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_?
> Wait a second, my understanding of (for example) Lars Martin's explanation
> was that Iranian hindu was cognate to Indian sindhu, not that it derived
> from it, although I can't go back an check.

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