SV: SV: Query: Etymology of sanskrit "aham"/ I

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Tue Nov 9 14:36:41 UTC 1999

Sergei Schmalz [SMTP:schms060 at MAIL.UNI-MAINZ.DE] skrev 09. november 1999 14:24:
>     As far as Latin and Greek words for "I" are concerned, it is not at all
> a must that they are the
> "predecessors" of "aham". What's the (logical) proof for that?

I am afraid that the connection between the two is standard knowledge. The
problem is how we account for the differences. According to Szemerenyi, we can
reconstruct the word for I as

eg(H)om / egoo (where oo represents a long o).

A particle -om/-on occurs in several Indo-European languages and is attached to
various words. Szemerenyi, however, believes the "Bedeutungstraeger" here is
-em/-om, and that eg(H) is a particle that is prefixed to the pronoun *em.
(Notice that there is an -m- in the first person of the word as well). Others
see the relationship between
egoo/eg(H)om to the *em-/m- of the other cases as an archaic feature. In that
case, we may have a kind of suppletivism. If the "Bedeutungstraeger" is eg(H)-
and -om/-on a particle (compare tvam < tu +om) , then it is tempting to suggest
that the original word was egHom, which in Skt. gives *azham > aham, whereas
forms like egoon could be explained by metathesis: egHom > egoHm, giving Greek
egoon and Latin egoo (the last nasal is lost in Latin, see e.g. *homoon >

Just a suggestion. Others may chip in and correct me.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at

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