Query: Etymology of sanskrit "aham - part 2"
poo at GIASMD01.VSNL.NET.IN
Fri Nov 12 14:39:41 UTC 1999
At 11/10/99 8:13:00 AM, Mr.Didier wrote:
>Thanks to all of you for your helpfull and very various responses,
>and for the bibliography and the links.
>it is very interesting for me to see that many different hypothesis
>can be followed and the comparaison with dravidian languages is
I am continuing with the second part.
Before we move on to third person pronouns, we need to know that Tamils divide all animate and inanimate
things into two classes, viz., uyarthinai, the high class, and AhRinai, the low class. The former comprises all
rational beings (like human beings, celestials and God) and the latter all the rest. We indicate the natural gender
and the number only for the rational beings, and for the irrational beings we refer only the number. So we have 5
grammatical genders (which are products of natural gender and number: AnbAl (masculine singular), peNbAl
(feminine singular), palarbAl (masculine, feminine or epicene plural), onRanbAl (irrational singular), palavinbAl
As indicated early, there are pronouns and pronominal termination of a sentence. Here we first look into the
third person pronominal terminations.: masculine singular - An, he; feminine singular - AL, she; epicene plural -
Ar, they; irrational singular - thu, it; irrational plural - vai, they. Third person nominative terminations An, AL
and Ar might have stood as pronouns in earlier times; but today, they do not stand alone as third person
pronouns. (However oblique base pronouns have become reflexive pronouns, viz., thAn - he, she, it, himself,
herself, itself and thAm - they, themselves.) Modern third person demonstrative pronouns always indicate the product
of the demonstratives and the grammatical genders. For example, when you join a (remote demonstrative)
and an (shortened form of An for the masculine singular gender), the third person frontal pronoun is obtained
with an automatic insertion of v, viz., avan. Likewise, all other pronouns may be obtained as given below.
Remote third person pronouns
avan, he avan, his avar, they avar, their
avaL, she avaL, her
athu, that athan, its avai, those avai, their
Proximate third person pronouns
ivan, he ivan, his ivar, they ivar, their
ivaL, she ivaL, her
ithu, this ithan, its
There are also double plural forms of third person pronouns. These are obtained by adding a plural suffix -kal
to the singular pronouns and used for addressing respectable persons. Nominative: thAngaL, they, themselves; Oblique
Base: thangaL, their, of themselves. ThAngaL and thangaL are also used in the second person in the
sense of 'your honour', and 'of your honour' respectively, when addressing persons worthy of high degree of reverence.
Now we come to aham. In my opinion, this is related to the Tamil first person pronouns yAn and yAm. The
prenominal terminations corresponding to these pronouns are An and Am and their vowel variations On/Om,
En/Em. Am can easily become aham while pronouncing. Incidentally, it has often been suggested in many
languages, the word for affirmation is the same as or quite related to the first person pronoun. In Tamil, the
affirmation is by the word 'Am' and in Hindi and other north Indian languages 'hA(ng/)m'. We also say 'Ahum
- it will become' for affirmation.
I end with my oft repeated statement (i.e. one of my stellingen, if there is anybody Dutch, he/she would understand):
Considering the north Indian languages (together with Sanskrit) and the European languages as two branches
of a single Indo-European tree is only a first step. Most probably, the Dravidian languages form an earlier
branch of the same tree.
It is always illuminating to bring in Dravidian parallel along with Indo - European terms (especially so for
Sanskrit), since Tamilology is a significant part of Indology.
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