Friday, 14 March 2008

sin and swastika

Proto-Indo-European *h₁es- "to be", in the suffixed form *h₁snt-ya- "that which is", became Proto-Germanic *sun(đ)jō- "sin", then English sin. The semantic drift from "that which is" to "sin" is also suggested in a Hittite derivative used in confessional formulas: the word referring to the existence of the transgression is a form of *h₁es- and means "it (is) being, it (is) true" (this is from the American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots). The Latin word sons meaning "guilty" is also from *h₁es-, the semantic derivation being "he who was it, the real person, the guilty one".

*h₁(e)su- "good" was a suffixed form of *h₁es-. *h₁(e)su- was combined with *h₁es- to form *h₁(e)su-h₁es-ti-, I assume meaning "well-being", becoming Sanskrit स्वस्ति svasti "well being, fortune, success", then स्वस्तिक svastika "lucky or auspicious object".

*h₁es- became various forms of "be" in many languages. In Old English the present indicative looked like this:
ic eom
þū eart
hēo is
wē sindon
gē sindon
hīe sindon

eom (am) from the athematic first person singular *h₁es-mi- (Greek εἰμί, Sanskrit अस्मि asmi).

is from the athematic third person singular *h₁es-ti- (German ist, Latin est, Russian есть, Persian است āst).

sindon is from the athematic third person plural *h₁s-énti- (Latin sunt, Sanskrit सन्ति santi).

1 comment :

David Marjanović said...

Proto-Germanic *sun(đ)jō- "sin"

Let me just confirm the reconstruction of *đ: German Sünde "sin".