hindu once again

Peter D Banos pdb1 at columbia.edu
Thu Jun 19 16:20:28 UTC 1997

On Sun, 15 Jun 1997, Jacob Baltuch wrote:

> In the same vein, can anyone explain the Hebrew name of India, "hodu"?
> (That's the modern pronunciation. Originally it should be "hoddu" or "hodhu",
> I don't remember which but I suspect it should be the latter; it can be found
> in the Bible, in the first verse of the Book of Esther, for example)

Klaus Karttunen has pointed out that the assimilation of _nd_ to _dd_ is
not unusual in Hebrew. This however does not explain how the vowel became
The following is my own off-the-wall speculation: perhaps "hindu" was
taken into Hebrew through the medium of an alphabet in which the symbols
for "n" and "w" are hard to distinguish? They are similar enough in
modern Hebrew writing, and in the Pahlavi script used for Middle Persian
they are identical. The "i" being short would not have been written at
all. So something looking like "hnd" or "hndw" could have been misread as
"hwd" or "hwdw" - which would give the form written in the Book of Esther.
Like I say, this is pure speculation; it is based only on 
my having seen even weirder things happen with scripts like the Pahlavi.

						-Peter D. Banos
						  Columbia University

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