Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Ajira and angel

The name of Ajira Airways in Lost was well chosen. Hindi अजीरा ajīrā means island. The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots notes a possible connection between Sanskrit अजिर ajira "swift" and Greek ἄγγελος aggelos "messenger, envoy" - the source of English angel. The Sanskrit word is the traditional epithet of messengers (dūtaḥ).

R̥gveda 3.9.8
आ जुहोता स्वध्वरं शीरं पावकशोचिषम् । आशुं दूतमजिरं प्रत्नमीड्यं श्रुष्टी देवं सपर्यत ।।८।।
ā juhotā svadhvaraṃ śīraṃ pāvakaśociṣam | āśuṃ dūtamajiraṃ pratnamīḍyaṃ śruṣṭī devaṃ saparyata ||8||
8 Offer to him who knows fair rites, who burns with purifying glow,

Swift envoy, active, ancient, and adorable: serve ye the God attentively.

According to the AHD, the Greek word is not of Indo-European origin but from an "unknown Oriental source". Monier-Williams and Pokorny say Sanskrit ajira is from Proto-Indo-European *aǵ- "drive, draw, move".

That's not all - according to this dictionary, Arabic الآخرة al-ʾâẖira-t means "afterlife". Remove the definite article al-, and the feminine suffix -t to get ʾâẖira, and convert this to the Spanish Arabists School romanization system, and you get - what else? - ājira.

1 comment :

Nick said...

I see you like etymology. What do you teach specifically? I'm curious.