Southern pronunciations ? (Re: INDOLOGY FAQ

Paul Kiparsky kiparsky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Feb 15 19:37:14 UTC 2010

In Europe, the names used abroad tend to be older, rather than new  
and altered!  Obviously Cologne and Monaco are is closer to the  
original than Köln and Munchen, etc.  More interestingly, the English  
use the original Celtic name Ratisbon for German Regensburg, which  
comes from the later Roman name Castra Regina.  And 's-Hertogenbosch  
may be a translation of Bois-le-Duc and not the other way round (for  
the duke in question was presumably French-speaking).  I'd be  
surprised if there aren't such cases in India too.


On Feb 15, 2010, at 10:50 AM, Robert Zydenbos wrote:

> One should also keep in mind, in all these discussions about  
> ವಾರಾಣಸಿ (the only pronunciation I have ever heard in  
> Karnataka; note the short i at the end), बनारस,  
> வாரணாசி, etc. etc., that old and famous cities tend to  
> acquire new or altered names in speech areas far away from where  
> those cities are.
> Europe is full of such examples. In Dutch, Wien becomes 'Wenen',  
> Paris becomes 'Parijs', Berlin is 'Berlijn'; Köln becomes 'Keulen'  
> in Dutch and 'Cologne' in French and English. Dutch cities like  
> Arnhem and Nijmegen become 'Arnheim' and 'Nimwegen' in German, and  
> 's-Hertogenbosch and 's-Gravenhage become 'Bois-le-Duc' and 'The  
> Hague' in English. München becomes 'Munich' in English and 'Monaco'  
> in Italian (and the latest, Sanskrit name, which I would like to  
> publicize here, is Munīśanagara).
> The list goes on and on. The reasons for all these metamorphoses  
> are manifold, and differ from language to language: some reasons  
> are internal (general phonetic patterns of the language), some  
> historical (e.g., the British using French names for whatever is  
> just on the other side of the water).
> Compared to what Europeans have been doing on their continent (or  
> the British in India: Śrīraṅgapaṭṭaṇa > Seringapatam,  
> Ēḻumpur > Egmore), I find the Indian variations on Vārāṇasī  
> quite modest.
> As for the variations in Kannada: I suspect that 'vāraṇāsi' is a  
> distorted form that may at first have been borrowed from Tamil,  
> since it is Śiva's city, and much, though not all, Śaiva lore came  
> to Karnataka from Tamilnadu (historical reason; note that the  
> references in the Kittel dictionary are from the Basavapurāṇa, a  
> Śaiva work; but the same text also contains 'vārāṇasi', and  
> Kittel has also found 'varaṇasi'); and at some later time, so I  
> imagine, it was realized that the proper pronunciation is  
> 'vārāṇasī' (but Kannadigas always shorten the final ī in loan  
> words: internal reason), which is why I have never heard anything  
> else.
> RZ
> Prof. Dr. Robert J. Zydenbos
> Department für Asienstudien - Institut für Indologie und Tibetologie
> Universität München (i.e., Munich, Monaco, Munīśanagara)
> Deutschland
> Tel. (+49-89-) 2180-5782
> Fax  (+49-89-) 2180-5827

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