Linguistic facts from India

On one of my flights I came across an interesting article in the flight magazine “Atmosphere”. It includes some interesting linguistic facts about words that we use in our daily life, without knowing that they originated in India.  

Since the Sanskrit language will be mentioned several times, I’ll just remind that the Sanskrit is the classical old language of India, maybe the Asiatic equivalent to the Latin language in Europe, and its first grammar was introduced in the 5th century BC.   

The word for tiger (Tigris) in Sanskrit is Viaghera. It reminds you the famous pill for men? Well, it has a connection – the tiger has a bone in his penis and therefore he can “hold on” for about 3 days….   

What the word “Yoga” stands for? – Yoga in Sanskrit means “putting together” or “harnessing”. It comes from the English word “Yoke” which is the rod that ties the two animals together.  

Shampoo sounds French to you? Well, it is not. It comes from the verb “Champena” in Hindu, which means “to press”. The original meaning of the word was the massage of the scalp and only later on in was connected to the liquid that was used to shampoo the hair.  

Some other popular Indian words that we use daily:  

Guru in Sanskrit is a teacher. Mantra – which is a repeated word or a sentence – comes from the verb “to think” (connected with the English word “mind”). Bandanna – comes from the verb “to bind”.  

The Jewish “Star of David”, our national symbol that appears on our flag, is it only ours? It happens that such a similar sign, which comprises two opposite triangles, is used in India to symbolize the human fertility and the 2 opposite triangles represent male and female. It might not be influences among cultures but rather two separate developments.  

(From an article by Dr. Tamar Eilam-Gindin, February 2008)  

And while mentioning the “Star of David” and in a very coincidental way, I recall that my daughter, Batel, who was travelling recently to India, sent to me this cute picture:  


She named it "The Jewish elephant"

  Only now I understand that it is not Jewish, neither was it done to attract young Israelis that are travelling in India, it is simply their symbol of human fertility. John Woden, the legendary UCLA coach, once said: “What you learn after you know everything, is what counts.” So, I learned few new things…

Fireworks (17)

Shuka, From London,
Thursday, November 20, 2008  

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