Tuesday, 16 February 2010

khan and asana

Not khan the lord or prince, but khan a building for the accomodation of travellers, as in gymkhana "place of public resort at a station, where the needful facilities for athletics and games of sorts are provided." According to the OED, gymkhana is a refashioning of Hindi gend-khāna "ball house", from गेंद gend "ball" plus ख़ाना ḵẖānā "house", borrowed from the Persian word below.

Proto-Indo-European *h₁ēs- "to sit" (a lengthened-grade form of *h₁es- "to be") in the suffixed form *h₁ēs-en-o- became Iranian *āhanam "seat" then Middle Persian خان ḵẖān "house".

In Sanskrit *h₁ēs- became ās "to sit" and आसन āsana "sitting", used as a term for yoga positions.

khan meaning "lord" or "prince", and probably also the source of Shahrukh Khan's name, is from Turkish.


Ethan Osten said...

That's a fairly bizarre derivation, be -> sit (even assuming some sort of semantic change led to h1es in the first place, in the model of Lat. stare -> Span. estar). Are there any reflexes of the root outside Indo-Iranian?

goofy said...

It's found in Greek, Indo-Iranian, and Anatolian: IEW 342

It's the American Heritage Dictionary that cites it as a derivation of *h₁es-.