Etymology of honorific particle jI

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at UNM.EDU
Thu Jun 23 15:44:35 UTC 2005

On Thu, 2005-06-23 at 17:00 +0200, Artur Karp wrote:

> It's just that  I have personal difficulty with imagining someone repeating 
> during one short conversation several times something like "may you live!", 
> and then obtaining in answer a similar portion of "'may- you-live!"s. 
> Persian calque? Possibly. But I have some buts, oops - doubts.

Bho Artur-ji,

Doubts always make me spring into action, if only to express a few of my
own. A nirukti that I was told long ago by one of my Sanskrit
professors, but that I had a hard time accepting, was that "-jii" is
what is left of "upaadhyaaya" after a couple of millennia of truncation.
What makes this plausible, at least as a sort of folk derivation, is
that several modern surnames ending in upaadhyaaya were anglicized as "-
jee"--Mukherjee, Chatterjee, Banarjee and so on. The full explanation
given to me was that "upaadhyaaya" came to be affixed as a term of
respect even to people who were not teachers in much the same way that
"Señor" and "monsieur" became terms of respect even to people who were
not lords, and "Mister" came to be applied even to people whom nobody
Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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