Thursday, 31 January 2008

nostril and avatar

The Proto-Indo-European root is *terh₂- "to cross over". The suffixed form *trh₂-kʷe (*-kʷe being a clitic meaning "and" as in Latin -que and Sanskrit -ca) became Proto-Germanic *þurh, then Old English þurh, then through.

*þurh also became *þurhil, which became Old English þyrl "hole". (This is alternatively derived from Proto-Germanic *þur-ila- - I don't know what the *-ila- suffix is, but I hope someone does.) This combined with nosu "nose" to form nosþyrl, næsþyrel, nosterl, literally "nose-hole", which became nostril.

In Sanskrit *terh₂- became तरति tárati "to cross over", which combined with the verbal prefix अव ava "off, away, down" (from PIE *h₂eu- "off, away") to form अवतारः avatāraḥ "descent (especially of a deity from heaven)". Nowadays it's used for the form we take when we descend into the digital realm.


Glen Gordon said...

I have to say, I'm a little curious about the grammatical basis of *trh₂-kʷe in PIE. Why exactly is the conjunctive attached here when it's semantically unnecessary? Do you know of an explanation behind this?

goofy said...

It's from Watkins' AHD of IE Roots. No further information is given. :(