Thursday, 8 April 2010

kirpan and bias

The kirpan, the Sikh ceremonial dagger, is back in the news in Toronto because someone was recently attacked with one.

Hindi and Punjabi किरपन/ਕਿਰਪਾਣ kirapan/kirapāṇ is derived from a source akin to Sanskrit कृपाण kr̥pāṇa "sword". According to IEW 938 this is from *(s)kerp-, an extended form of the root *(s)ker- "to cut". (I've discussed this root before.)

One of the more surprising derivatives of *(s)ker-, according to the AHD, is bias. The zero-grade suffixed form *kr̥s-yo- became Greek κάρσιος "cross-wise", combining with ἐπί "upon" to form ἐπικάρσιος "cross-wise, at an angle". This was supposedly borrowed into Vulgar Latin as *(e)bigassius, becoming Old French biais "oblique". I'm skeptical; the OED makes no mention of this. The theory actually mentioned and rejected by the OED is more interesting: Diez's theory that it is from Latin bifax "two-faced".


Ray said...

I'm wondering why the Hindi kaat and the English cut are so similar.

goofy said...

I think it's a coincidence... "kaat" is from Sanskrit "kart" which is from *(s)ker-. But the etymology of "cut" is unknown. Plus, Sanskrit /k/ doesn't correspond to Germanic /k/.