Re: [tied] Sarasvati River

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 7457
Date: 2001-06-01

I wish I could make up my mind about it. The question is difficult or perhaps impossible to resolve, since there was a complete merger of *sel-es- (*selos) 'pool, marshy place' and *ser-es- (*seros) 'waterflow' in Indo-Iranian. We have the Skt. s-neuter <saras> glossed as 'trough, bucket; pond, pool, lake'. What shall we make of it? Is it a derivative of *ser- 'flow', or a cognate of Greek helos?
If the Sarasvati was a fast-flowing river with fierce currents, *ser-es- would seem to be the natural choice; if it flowed amidst swampy flats, forming numerous marshy pools, there would be a good case for *sel-es-. But one and the same river can meet both descriptions. Consider the Helmand (identified by some with the Sarasvati), which rises in the mountains, rushes through rocky gorges "bursting the ridges of the hills with its strong waves", as the Rigveda puts it, and then enters flat lowlands and disappears in a cluster of swampy lakes.
The root *ser- 'flow' is understandably frequent in IE hydronyms (especially, though by no means exclusively, as extended *sr-(e)u-). Neuter stems in *-es- often co-occur with derivatives in *-eto-. The name of the Carpathian river Siret/Seret (< *ser-eto-) could be used to support the plausibility of *ser-es- as a river-naming element.
----- Original Message -----
From: ravi9@...
Sent: Friday, June 01, 2001 10:32 PM
Subject: Re: [tied] Sarasvati River


I read your posts with much interest. I do have a question if you do
not mind.

saras - vati

if ser-es ' flow, current' is available while would sel-os/sel es-
'marshy lake ,pond,' be preferable as a meaning  for 'saras'.

could saras vati to use your line of thought not mean a river, rich
in flow i.e a fast flowing river with much water.

Best regards

Ravi Chaudhary

-- In cybalist@..., "Piotr Gasiorowski" <gpiotr@...> wrote:
> We've discussed it before. The suffix -va(n)t- (feminine -vati: < *-
wnt-ih2) means "rich in, having a lot of". The most likely base seems
to be the PIE s-neuter *sel-os/*sel-es- 'marshy lake, pond, pool'. I
also considered *ser-es- 'flow, current' as a possibility, but the
former name apparently describes the historical Sarasvati much better
and I agree it's preferable as an analysis.
> Piotr