Etymology of honorific particle jI

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU
Thu Jun 23 16:43:41 UTC 2005

But, Artur,

why should one require a precedent in Skt, Pkt or even
Apabhramsha? In Tibetan, for instance, we have a particle
-lags (pronounced -laa), which is derived from a classical
Tibetan honorific form of the verb "to be," and which is
added to proper names in modern Tibetan as
a polite form of address, rather like -jii. So far as
I am aware, one has almost no literary evidence of this
usage before very recent times, and then in texts that
are adopting a deliberately colloquial register. If -jii
reflects Persian convention, in particular, then its
absence in earlier material is even more understandable.

Jan Houben's -oji examples, like Bengali -arjee, retain
some trace of the upasarga.

The use of upadhyaaya as a feminin honorific (maataajii etc.),
though I would consider this a most welcome development,
seems also to raise some questions.

Matthew Kapstein

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