Monday, 9 March 2009

namaste and nemoral

The next episode of Lost is called Namaste.

नमस्ते namaste is a greeting, from Sanskrit namas "bow, obeisance" plus te, a dative second person singular enclitic (cognate with thee). So etymologically it means "obeisance to you." A more formal form is नमस्कार namaskār, from namas plus kāra "making, doing".

(As I understand it, namas is a neuter consonant-stem noun, with the nominative/accusative form namaḥ. Therefore the s in namaste is due to sandhi.)

namas is from the Proto-Indo-European root *nem- "to bend". (Not this *nem-.) According to Pokorny, *nem- is the source of various words meaning "grove" or "valley" (a valley being a "bent or curved place"), including Lithuanian Nemenas (the Neman river), Greek νέμος "wooded pasture", Latin nemus "grove", Old Irish nemed "holy place", and Welsh nant "valley".

The Latin word gives us nemoral, defined by the OED as "Of, relating to, or characteristic of groves or woods; living in or frequenting groves or woods".

Example sentence?

All of them require nemoral snails. - 1657 R. TOMLINSON tr. J. de Renou Medicinal Dispensatory 524


bulbul said...

Hey, whoa, goofy, you could have put a spoiler warning there! :) Lucky for me, this season I'm up-to-date, but some people might not be.

Adam Roberts said...

I wonder if this has anything to do with the derivation of the goddess' name Nemesis? Something to do with obeisance, for instance?

goofy said...

bulbul, I didn't even think of that... ooops.

Adam, Nemesis is apparently from another homophonous root

Thomas said...

so is namaste related to Namu Amida Butsu?

goofy said...

Thomas, yes I think that "namas" and the "namo" of "Namo Amitabhaya Buddhaya" are the same word.