Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Mar 21 13:54:11 UTC 2000

>> language, I have taken also references to yavana writing. Remember that in
>> early sources yavana means Greek, but later Arab or Muslim in general.

>This is an interesting (EC selective) point you have made. I was always told
>that *yavana* did not refer to any particular race, but meant a *foreigner*
>of any description, but Europeans mistranslate/misconstrue to means Greeks
>for their own particular reasons. Hence, even in India, I have been often
>referred to, being born an Australian, as being yavana.

<Eur.> Indologists are quite aware of the fact that Yavana (Old Pers. Yona)
originally meant the Greeks, but was applied to various foreigners on the
western border of S.Asia , and in later times, used as a general term for
'foreigner'.  That is,  when they were not detailed, as visibile in Prof.
Karttunen's recent collection on this list.

Similarly, TuruSka means a "Turk" but is often used for Muslims, for
example in Kashmirian texts, such as the various Rajatarangini-s.  Mleccha
seems to have a similarly restricted origin, later widened to mean all
'Barbarians', to use the Greek ethnocentric term.

Another term is, e.g., the 19th cent.  Nepalese use of GoraNDa for 'the
foreign traders on boats, the British'.  Adopted from words for tribes,
such as MuruNDa, etc.

All such developments are also known from outside the subcontinent (Farinj
< Franks, Kafir/Kaffer, etc.), not our topic here.

Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

ph. 617-496 2990 (also messages)
home page:     www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm

Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:         www1.shore.net/~india/ejvs

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