a question about 'dalit'

Andrew Ollett andrew.ollett at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 7 14:06:41 UTC 2012

Jonathan et al.,

Brown-Driver-Briggs lists דלל (dālal) with the meaning "hang, be low,
languish" (with some Assyrian and Arabic parallels for the root dall-).

Mayrhofer (EWAI) considers DAL "bersten, aufspringen" to be "Eine jüngere
-l-Form der Sippe von DAR(i)... die DAL-Sippe ist nicht ved... Schwerlich
setzt daher DAL eine von DAR(i) verschiedene Wurzel *del (mit lit. dalìs
'Teil' u.a.) fort..." In other words, dalati and dalita- are l-dialect
variations of the root dar- (dṛṇā́ti), which is inherited from
Indo-European derH2.

It's only in view of the 20th-c. meaning of "dalita" that a semantic
connection with Hebrew DLL appears.


On Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 9:36 AM, Madhav Deshpande <mmdesh at umich.edu> wrote:

> Dear Jonathan,
>      While the word dalita as a past participle of the verb dalati is
> widely used in the classical literature, the use of this term to refer to
> "down-trodden" or lower-caste people is entirely new, no more than 20 or 30
> years old, but indeed very widespread today in India.
> Madhav Deshpande
> On Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 5:46 AM, Jonathan Silk <kauzeya at gmail.com> wrote:
>> dear Friends, I was sent the following with a question whether it made
>> any sense. I am, let us say, suspicious, but since I can't categorically
>> say it's rubbish...
>> "According to James Massey, the term "Dalit" is perhaps, one of the most
>> ancient terms which has not only survived till date, but is also shared by
>> a few of world's oldest languages, namely, Hebrew and Sanskrit. Though they
>> differ in their grammatical and lexicographical connotations, both these
>> languages share the term "Dalit" with the same root and sense. It has been
>> said that the root word 'dal' in dalit has been borrowed into Sanskrit from
>> Hebrew." (www.csichurch.com/article/dalit.htm and see
>> www.dalitsolidarity.org/meaning.htm)
>> --
>> J. Silk
>> Instituut Kern / Universiteit Leiden
>> Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, LIAS
>> Johan Huizinga Building, Room 1.37
>> Doelensteeg 16
>> 2311 VL Leiden
>> The Netherlands
> --
> Madhav M. Deshpande
> Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics
> Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
> 202 South Thayer Street, Suite 6111
> The University of Michigan
> Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608, USA

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