hindu once again

jacob.baltuch at euronet.be jacob.baltuch at euronet.be
Thu Jun 19 17:10:24 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?

No, that's impossible. Klaus Karttunen said it was (contrary to what I
had tought because of the apparently long o) "hoddu". In which case the
*n* must have functioned there *after* the pronunciation of the vowel
became o, hence the confusion between n and w can't be the source of
the o sound. (Your conjecture would be compatible with a "hodhu"

>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

That's not an absolute rule like say in Arabic. Sometimes you see short i
written with a so called "mater lectionis". Furthermore the "mater lectionis"
y is also used for long e, which is precisely the Aramaic pronunciation.

I think the most likely is that there was a confusion between w and the y
of the Aramaic spelling.

I think I've seen other cases like that although I couldn't give you examples
on the spot.

>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.

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