Donnerstag, 6. Oktober 2011

Vṛddhi - a special method of word derivation in Old Indo-Aryan

OIA mṛgá-
mṛgá-, '(wild) animal' is an old Indian noun, already appearing in the Ṛgveda, the most ancient Indian book of religious hymns.
When mṛgá- is meant to refer to a particular class of animals, it is used alongside different epiteths, e.g. mṛgá- mahiṣá- 'huge animal' for 'buffalo', mṛgá- hastín-, 'animal with a hand', for 'elephant', etc.
In phonologically different shapes, the noun exists also in several Iranian languages as well as in later Indo-Aryan dialects (e. g. in the Middle Indo-Aryan dialect Pāli maga- m. 'deer'); its origin is still unknown.
OIA mṛgá- in compounds and derivational nouns
Beside its occurrence in the ancient books in several compound words such as mṛgá-śaphá- 'hoof of a antilope' it was also processed in derivational nouns, e.g. Vedic mṛga-yú- 'hunter', and the noun mārga- 'way' ('path', 'track', 'slot') or 'method' (in the Ṛgveda).
Vṛddhi-derivation OIA mārga-
Now when we look at mārga-, we observe a special means of derivation, of building a new word from one already existing, which is different from derivational words with a suffix as mṛga-yú-.
Like our modern Indo-European languages English and German, the ancient Indian languages had different means of building new words out of existing ones, e. g. suffixation as in English shy-ness (a noun derived from an adjective), and prefixation, e. g. German ver-brauchen, but the ancient Indians also used methods of derivation neither modern English nor German do know any more – but which once have been used in these languages' predecessors, too.
The special means of derivation found in mārga- is named by a Sanskrit term Vṛddhi, 'growth'. It is marked by lengthening of the root vowel, which in Old Indian means to add double a to the root at the earliest possible point of the word (e.g., in mārga- ṛ + a +a gives ār) (there is a special system of vowel gradation in Old Indian, where the vowels a, i, u, and are being upgraded by adding -a- to the basic vowel, and again, by adding another a, used mainly as a no longer productive means of derivation, like the Ablaut in English and German irregular verbs).
The meaning of words such as mārga- which contained Vṛddhi was affiliation or belonging in relation to the source of the derivation, sometimes in a more narrow, sometimes in a wider sense.
During the history of the Indian languages, the derivational device of Vṛddhi has been abundantly applied and used to enlargen and enrich the lexicon.

Here I'll show only a few of its many, many forms of use:
Vṛddhi has been applied for marking the descendant(s) of an ancestor:
The children and descendants of Bharata, an ancient emperor according to Indian mythology, were called Bhāratas, and India's indigenous name is Bhārat, 'land of the Bhāratas'
Vṛddhi is also being used when speaking of languages:
At the time of the Buddha, there was an Indian territory called Magadha; the language that was supposedly spoken in that region is called Māgadhī (maybe you noticed that not only the root vowel, but also the suffix has been changed here; that is not seldom the case!).

Vṛddhi wasn’t used in the Indian languages only; there is evidence it was also applied in other Indo-European language families – which indicates that it had already been a morphological device in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE).
I'll give you a very short glimpse of traces of Vṛddhi in another Indo-European language:
The German word Huhn 'hen' is an ancient Vṛddhi-derivation of the noun Hahn 'cock' (the predecessors of these words, of course); Huhn then meant 'that belonging to the Hahn'.
Also, the modern German word for 'brother-in-law', Schwager', was once formed as a Vṛddhi-derivation of the now obsolete word for 'father-in-law': Schwäher. This word originates from the Proto-Indo-European noun *sṷéḱuro-s, while the Vṛddhi-formation *su̯ēkurós- (note the long vowel and the shift of the accent) ('Schwager' = 'brother-in-law') is most probably of Germanic origin.

I won't leave out the Old Indian noun devá- 'god', 'heavenly', 'belonging to the bright heaven' here.
Its alleged Indo-European form *deiuó- is in fact a Vṛddhi-derivation of PIE *div-, 'heaven', 'god of heaven', 'day' from which the Greek word Zeus as well as the Latin Jupiter and our word day originate.
There is a lot more to say about this root *div-, but that would be a long new post.

Now we come back to
mṛgá- and mārga- and how I came across them:
I didn’t find mārga- in a linguistical account or in an old Vedic text, but in a Sanskrit poem of the great Indian poet Kalidāsa (who lived around 500 CE, that is more than 2,000 years later than the redaction oft he gveda ), in his poem Kumārasambhava. In the introductory verses oft he poem, Kalidāsa describes in abundant metaphors the mountains of the Himālaya and the ways of its inhabitants. In this context mārga- is the path of the wild animals.
Here one verse (translated by me):
"...[in the Himālaya] where the Kirātas [a tribe of hunters] can still follow the PATH (mārga-) of the lions because of the pearls that had fallen off their claws, although they won’t find the blood red coloured traces of the elephants which have been washed away by the falling snow"(Kumārasambhava 1/6).
The word mārga- is still alive, not only in classical Sanskrit as in Kalidāsa’s poetry, but also in the New Indo-Aryan (NIA) language Hindi.
There the word is mārg, ‚religious path‘, ‚way of redemption‘, ‚method‘ etc., its meanings similar to those of English ‚way‘.
Btw, mārg is a loanword from Sanskrit, it can’t be an original NIA-word, because the ancient sounds except the suffix –a are preserved in it. If the ancient word had developed into a modern Indian word through the centuries, its shape would have changed considerably, as the MIA word Pāli maga already indicates (roughly spoken, in NIA languages such as Hindi, loanwords from Sanskrit are being used in a way similar to German or English using words of Latin or Greek origin: for denoting more abstract concepts, for expressing thoughts in a more elaborate code).
It is quite obvious how the meaning of mārga- fits into the semantics of Vṛddhi-derivations, which are formed to express belonging or affiliation in relation to the basic word. Mārga- is something belonging to mṛgá-, or originating from wild animals, in this case it is the path treaded by or used by the animals, as is still transparent in our example from Kalidāsa.