Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ge'ez influence on Sanskrit

The Indian Ethiopians called Naga, made one important improvement over the Ethiopic alphabetic scripts. This improvement was the addition of vowels to the alphabet.
The major contribution to the Ethiopian Nagas was the Indian writing system called Deva-Nagari. Nagari is the name for the Sanskrit writing system. Over a hundred years ago Sir William Jones, pointed out that Ge'ez and Sanskrit writing are one and the same. He explained that this was supported by the fact that both writing systems went from left to right, Sanskrit and Ge'ez share udentical vowels in the same order, and the vowels were annexed to the consonants.

Today Eurocentric scholars teach that the Indians taught writing to the Ethioipians, or Ethiopian writing came from Yemen, yet the name Nagari for Sanskrit betrays the Ethiopian origin for this form of writing. In Ge'ez the term nagar means 'speech, to speak'. Thus we have in Ge'ez, with the addition of pronouns: nagara 'he spoke, nagast 'she spoke' and nagarku 'I spoke'.

The origin of Devanagari was as a trade language or lingua franca is evident in any discussion of this term. Sanskrit was, and has always been mainly an oral language until Panini and others wrote a grammar for it . This is why neither the Ge'ez or Sanscript word for 'writing' was ever applied to Devanagari. It is for this reason that it was called Deva+nagari 'the sacre speech'.


There is no Indian etymology that explains Nagari as the name for the Sanskrit language. It is clear that Devanagari means 'Divine city' or 'Sacre city' or 'City of God'. That is why the term script, is placed in brackets in your definitions:" meaning the "urban(e) [script] of the deities (= gods)", i.e. "divine urban(e) [script]".

There is nothing in Sanascrit that allows the term Deva+nagari to represent anything but Deva (sacre, deity, god)+ nagari (city, of the city). For example lets look at deva+ , e.g., devata+maya 'containing all the gods'; deva+putra 'son of god'; deva+nadi 'divine river'; deva+linga 'statue of god ; and deva+nagari 'sacre city'. Lets look at nagari: avanti+nagari 'the city of Uggayini; Yama-nagari 'city of Yama'; and Indra+nagari 'city of Indra'.

These Sanskrit examples make it clear that Deva and nagari has nothing to do with 'writing'. Some researchers have claimed that devanagari= "sacre urbane [wiritng]", because they want to have an etymology for this term. Yet as noted by the Wikipedia site Sanskrit is often simply known as "Nagari" .

This supports my earlier view that the Ethiopian term Nagari, was used to represent writing by the inventors of Sanskrit, which was probably used as a lingua franca by the Ethiopians who ruled India and lived primarially in Indian urban areas. This means that Deva+nagari = 'Sacre Writing', not 'urbane [script] of the Deity'.


They used the term nagari, due to the fact that Sanskrit was originally a lingua franca used by the Ethiopians to communicate with their subjects and other diverse people in India. Because of its possible origin as a trade language, spoken Sanskrit acquired the name "Nagari" 'speech'.

Since it probably originated as a lingua franca, it was later written in Ge'ez or some other Ethiopian script. When Panini and others wrote grammars of Sanskrit they continued to call it by the name given it by its creator: Nagari 'speech'.

This is why attempts to provide a native etymology for nagari 'city, urban(e)' when interpreting Devanagari fails, it fails because Devanagari was a lingua franca and over time the proper meaning of the term was lost as various grammarian refined Sanskrit.

First of all Ge'ez dates back to 500 BC, whereas Brahmi dates to 264-271BC. As a result Devanagari has nothing to do with Brahmi. Brami is a syllabary whereas Devanagari is abugida.

A cursory comparison of the scripts, indicates that Ge'ez shows more similarity to Devanagari that Brahmi does to Devanagari.


A comparison of Devanagari and Ge'ez shows many similar signs.



Deavanagari …………..Ge'ez

Ka………………………k'a, k'e

Þa…………………….ta

Þha……………….ta

Ya…………………ye^

Jha ……………he

Ha………………he

Va………………wa

Ra……………..rä

Dha………….da

Ba…………….be

Ra…………….rä

Da………………dä

Œa…………..ze

Sa…………..zu

Vowels
u………….u

e…………ä

u………a

It is clear fron this comparison of Devanagari and Ge'ez we see the following consonantal patterns:

K/k

Þ/t

D/d

S/z

Œ/z

Vowel pattern

A/ä

U/ u

U/a

A/e



This comparison of Ge'ez and Devanagari suggest a stronger influence of Ge'ez on Devanagari than Brahmi.


As you can clearly see from a comparison of the scripts that Ge'ez shows more similarity to Devanagari that Brahmi does to Devanagari.

1 comment:

Michael E. Marotta said...

Chicken and egg arguments aside, it is apparent that trade crosses barriers. Individuals do invent and innovate, and also, cultural assimilation is the norm, not the exception.

Thanks for the fascinating insights into an arcane and yet compelling study.