Mar 28, 2023
Mar 28, 2023
The prefixes “A” and “An” as also the prefix “Nir” denote the opposite of the word they attach to. Anyaya is the absence of nyaya or justice, Anjaana is not jaana or known (unknown). In English we say amoral or without morals. In Greek athanatos is without thanatos or death. In English the prefix an is used in anhidrosis or without hidrosis (sweating), also in anarchy, anhydride, anaerobic or it sometimes changes to in or im as in independent (not dependent) or immortal (not mortal). At other times the prefix “Nir” as in Sanskrit “nirmal” or without dirt (pure). In English and in Latin it changes from nir to nor as in “Neither he nor I, want to go there. It is also used to denote chemicals without a methyl group as in differentiating adrenaline and nor-adrenaline.
The Sanskrit prefix “Apa” means, away, off or back but can also imply opposite as in “apakama or opposite of love or abhorrence. In such cases apa becomes ab in English as in abnormal, abreact. It also means away or off as in derived of and the example is apomorphine a derivative of morphine or apoplexy which comes from plessein or plexy, to strike. In apostasy punishable by death in Islam, it is moving away from stasy, status or religion. When the moon is farthest from the earth (gaia) it is at its apo-gee. In Sanskrit using Apabhasha or apabhransha is using a deteriorated, degenerated or bad language farthest from Sanskrit or the refined language.
Apagata or dead or gone away, apagama or going away as in apostrophe from apo meaning away and strephein meaning turning.
In Sanskrit the prefix “Abhi” means towards or excessive as in Abhiman and Abhivriddhi but it also means around or on both sides to denote excess. In Latin it becomes ambi and in Greek amphi to denote all encompassing or on both sides as in ambidextrous or both (right) handed or amphibious meaning capable of living on land and in water.
“Upa” in Sanskrit is a prefix meaning towards, near, by the side of, together with, under or down. Its Greek equivalent is epi and Latin equivalent sub. Upanishada is sitting by the side of and subterranean is below the terra or earth. Thus in English epidermis is near or under the skin. Epinephrine is secreted near the kidney (nephros in Greek) by the (Latin) adrenal gland.
The Sanskrit prefixes “ava” meaning off, away, down as in avatara (descent of a deity from heaven to earth), avarohanna (descent from higher tone to lower tone in singing: and “anu” meaning after, alongside, next to, under, subordinate to as in anumati (consent), anuja (born after or later), anukrama (serial order) don’t have clear Greek, Latin or other language equivalents.
The Sanskrit prefix “aa” means near, towards, until as in aagaman meaning coming instead of gamana meaning going, aarohana meaning ascending, aamaranam meaning until death. The nearest Greek prefix is “ana” meaning up, again, throughout, back as in the anabasis of Xenophon, analogue, anagram.
The Sanskrit prefix “su” meaning good becomes “eu” in Greek. Sujata becomes Eugenia. Sanskrit prefix “sum” meaning together becomes “sym or syn” in Greek, Latin and English as in symphony, symposium, synthesis, syndactyly, synergy. The Sanskrit prefix “Nava” meaning new as in Navajyot (Navjodh) becomes “neo” in Greek and English as in neon, neo-cons, neophytes.
An interesting one is the Sanskrit prefix “pra” meaning before, forward, in front of. “Kasha is to be visible but prakasha is to illumine. Gna and gnaan in Sankrit are to know and knowledge (gnosis in Greek) but pragna is intelligence. Jana, janma are similar to gene, generate but prajaa is procreation, also family race, people. From Greek, Latin and English prologue, provision, propulsion, pro-Mubarak.
Etymology, syntax and grammar to some extent help in tracing the common origin of languages.
Table 1 from “The Loom Of Language”.
English Sanskrit Greek Latin Old High Old Slavonic
I bear Bharami Phero Fero Biru Bera
Thou Bharasi Phereis Fers Biris Beresi
He bears Bharati Pherei Fert Birit Beretu
We bear Bharamas Pheromes Ferimus Berames Beremu
You bear Bharata Pherete Fertis Beret Berete
They Bear Bharanti Pheronti Ferunt Berant Beratu
The similarities in etymology and declination of verbs becomes obvious. The ancient languages required every noun and its adjective to show matching cases (nominative for subject, accusative for object, instrumental for action by, dative for action to, ablative for action from, genitive for action by, locative for action in or on and vocative for the exclamatory form). These eliminated the need for prepositions and required no specific word order. English has a subject, verb, object word order and since nouns have lost cases, we need to use prepositions. Japanese and Hindi have a subject, object, verb order, so they require the use of post-positions like “ney and ko” in Hindi. Sanskrit, Latin and German do not require a specific word order as every noun, pronoun and adjective shows the appropriate case.
Table 2 from The Loom Of Language
Sanskrit Old Persian Greek Old Slav Latin Biblical English
Dadami Dadami Didomi Dami Do I give
Dadasi Dadahi Didos Dasi Das Thou givest
Dadati Dadaiti Didoti Dasti Dat He giveth
Dadmas Dademahi Didomes Damu Damus We give
Datta Dasta Didote Daste Datis Ye give
Dadati Dadenti Didonti Dadanti Dant They give
Italian French Icelandic Dutch AmerEng Danish
Io do Je donne Eg gef Ik geef I give Jeg giver
Tu dai Tu donnes Thu gefur Jij geeft You give Du giver
Egli da Il donne Hann gefur Hij geeft He gives Han giver
Noi diamo Nous donnons Vjer gefum Wij geven We give Vi giver
Voi date Vous donnez Thjer gefith Jullie geven You give De giver
Esi danno Ils donnent Their gefa Zij geven They give De giver
Now you can see from where the English words donate and gift come from. Also the pronouns he, his, they and their are of Germanic and Scandinavian origin.
The uncanny similarity in nouns, verbs, their cases, conjugation and even monosyllabic prefixes led Sir William Jones to propose in 1786, a common origin for Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and other languages and the concept of Proto-Indo-European arose. As they say if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
Interested readers should carefully read the article “The Aryan Tryst With Dravidians By Dr. Sankaran Nair to realize that the Indus Valley (Mohen Jo Daro-Harappa, Dravidian civilization was more advanced and urban (drainage system, baths, rice agriculture, written script) in comparison to the non-agricultural nomadic Aryan (oral) one. The two met and melded without major violence and war and as the present corrupt and incompetent government of India does say one thing right –Jub miley sur mera tumara, bane sur hamara...
Proto-Indo-European: The Mother of Languages
The Mendelian Genetics of The English Language
Image (c) Gettyimages.com
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD
|Interesting article. I am both a linguistics student and a student of Sanskrit. Thank you.|
|Interesting article... I stumble on it while searching the origin of the sanskrit word 'pragun' which means 'honest, upright' according to a Sanskrit-English dictionary by Monier-Williams published in 1899. Dr. Bhatt could you please help me with the meaning because i have named my son 'pragun' and a 'pundit' says that 'pra' is a useless prefix to 'gun'....|
|Your search is enlightening. There is an endless list words of Samskrit origin in European languages. I have to draw your attention to the fact that the word Europe is Sanskrit origin. Please check for Europa the lady from which the word has derived and reply I am not giving details.|