The Sanskrit Roots of English

English belongs to the Indo-European language family, of which Sanskrit is the oldest existing language. Here we will take a look at some English words and prefixes that are very similar to Sanskrit.

Words Related to Me and Mine

 SanskritEnglish 
 ma me
 swa self
 tva thou, you
 matru mother 
 pitru fater (pater) 
 bhraatra brother 
 swasar sister 
 suunu son
 duhiter daughter
 karsharpan / karsha (coin) cash

Words Related to Mind and Body:

SanskritEnglish
 manav man, men   
 yuva youth, young  
 manas  mind, mental
 mukh (face)  Mouth (old english muth) 
 kapal (head) as in per “capita”, captain, capital  
 bhru  brow 
 akshi (eye)  occipital, occular  
 nasika  nose, nostril, nasal
 danta (tooth)  dental, denture    
 hrid  heart 
 janu  knee (french genou) 
 pad (feet) pedicure, pedestrian, centipede   
 sweda sweat 

Geometry …

Sanskrit English
 kon (angle)  octa-gon, penta-gon (8 angled, 5 angled etc.)
 miti (measure) metric, meter, measure (latin metiri)
 tri-kona-miti trignometry
 gouh (earth)  geometry, geography (greek geos)
 lok (place) location, locus, locale
 tatra there 

Numbers …

Sanskrit English
ek (one or same)  equal   
 dvi (two) duet, dual, double, duo   
 tri (three)  three, triple   
 chatur (four)  quarter, quarternary, quadrate    
 panch (five)  pentagon  
 sapta (seven)  septulets, septagon   
 ashta (eight)  eight, octagon  
 nav  nine    
 dasha (ten)  decagon, decade  
 shatam (hundred)  century, centipede (latin centum)  

Actions …

SasnkritEnglish
astiist, is (greek esti)
 bandha (bind) bind, bandage
 ga go 
 gam come 
 hanta (kill) hunt 
 hara (destroy) harass 
 iccha, isha (to wish) wish 
 jan (produce offspring, born) generate, genocide 
 kath (say, talk)  quote 

Some More …

SanskritEnglish
antarinter-national, interior
 madhyamiddle, mediocre, moderate 
 antend 
 dama (home)domicile, domestic 
 danadonate
 dev (god)divine  
 dwardoor 
 gowcow 
 kaal (time) calendar (latin kalendae) 
 maas (month) month
 mooshak mouse 
 mruta (death) mortal, murder, mortuary (latin mortalis) 
 na no 
 nawa new 
 path path 
 raaj (king, rule) rich, regal, regulate
 sama same 
 sarpa serpent 
 sharkara saccharin, sucrose, sugar
 smit smile 
 swadu sweet 
 taru tree 
 tat that 
 vak, vaacha voice, vocal
 vastra (clothing) vestura 
 veda, vidya (from vid) (knowledge)  wit, wise (from vid) 

Prefixes and postfixes:

The postfix ‘er’ in words indicates the occupation / action of a person or a thing. Same postfix is seen in English: teacher, farmer, worker, computer, looker, reader, cooker etc. indicate the occupation / action of the person or the thing.
 
Prefixes similar to Sanskrit are seen in English too. Example in Sanskrit, the prefix ‘a’ creates antonym as in mruta-amruta, karma-akarma, swacha-aswacha. In English too such prefix is seen as in – political – apolitical, theist – atheist, sexual – asexual etc.

Pronunciation Rules

The basic set of consonants common to most Indian languages have been categorized according to the source of those sounds (throat, palate, teeth, lips etc.) The 5 Varga (groups) are: क, ख, ग, घ, (ka, kha ga, gha, gn); च, छ, ज, झ, (ch, cha, ja, jha, yn); ट, ठ, ड, ढ, ण (T, Th, D, Dh, N); त, ठ, द, ध, न (t, th, d, dh, n); and प, फ, ब, भ, म (p, ph, b, bh, m). In each वर्ग (Varga) the last consonant is nasal. When an अनुस्वार (Anuswar) precedes a consonant, it represents the nasal sound of its Varga.

Thus the words: अंग (anga), संचित (sunchit), संथ (santha), अंड (aNDa), अंबा (amba).
Similar pronunciation is seen in English: anguish, puncture, anthropology, aND, ambiguity.

Nasal sound before hard D, T is pronounced as hard N: as in aNDrew, saiNT, saND, waND.
Nasal sound before soft d, t is pronounced as soft n: as in synthesis.
Nasal sound before before g is pronounced as: song, single, swing, anger.
Nasal sound before b, p is pronounced as m: as in amplify, symbiosys, simple.

Does English have its Roots in Sanskrit?

It has been hypothesized that the language of the ancestors of Indo-Europeans was a language older than Sanskrit; and it was the mother of all the Indian and European languages. This language was called Proto-Indo-European or PIE for short. This language was constructed based on the now existing languages. Thus the words in the Indian and the European languages have a root word in PIE. Sanskrit is an ancient Indo-European language and it is also nearest to PIE, thus we see the similarities between English and Sanskrit.

So what is PIE? Who spoke PIE? What literature was created in PIE? What oral traditions from PIE exist today? What songs from PIE are known? What inscription of PIE has been found? More on this in a later blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s