Derivation of word "Hindu"

Klaus Karttunen KJKARTTU at
Tue Jun 17 16:33:47 UTC 1997

Philip, Lars and others have already said most about this question and I 
have only to add a couple of remarks. It really seems that "in this
case, the Iranians seem to have used a cognate, not a derivative" 
(Killingley). With Avestan hapta hendavah (cf. sapta sindhavaH) and Old 
Persian Hindu (= the Indus country) I think we cannot separate the 
Iranian word from Sindhu as a name of the Indus river (though sindhu can 
also be a river in general and even sea). From this came Greek (and then 
Latin etc.) words for both the Indus and India. Through the Achaemenids 
the name was also adopted in such languages as Akkadian, Elamite, 
Egyptian, Aramaic (HendA) and Hebrew (Hoddu in Esther, I Maccabees and 
later). A colleague familiar with Semitic linguistics informed that the 
change from nd to dd is a typical Hebrew development. From Iranian came 
also Arabic Hind. As to "HindusthAna", I fail completely to understand, 
how it should be somehow negative that the Iranians had words referring 
to their neighbours.


P.S. I have discussed the development sindhu-hindu-Indus,India in an 
article published in the Cracow Indological Studies 1. Proceedings of 
the International Conference on Sanskrit and Related Studies 1993. 
Cracow 1995, p. 151-163.

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