Re: nakha 'nail' in sanskrit

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 9606
Date: 2001-09-19

Strictly speaking, it's PIE *gH, not *g (*h3nogH-o-s, *h3nogH-elo-s,
etc.). One would expect Skt. *nagHa-, and <nakHa-> is indeed a
surprise. Taboo distortion? (phonation-type irregularities are found
in a few other names of body parts, e.g. <hrd-> 'heart', <hanu-
> 'jaw'). The word can be either masculine or neuter (<nakHam>) in
Old Indo-Aryan, and the latter form may have been borrowed into
Tamil. Expected <nagha-> possibly survives in some plant names:
<nagHa-ma:ra-> or <nagHa-ris.a-> 'crepe ginger, _Costus speciosus_',
or <nagHus.a-> 'crepe jasmine, _Tabernaemontana divaricata_', though
I wouldn't swear to that.


--- In cybalist@..., naga_ganesan@... wrote:
> I've question on the Sanskrit word for nakha 'nail':
> How do the IE lingists explain 'kh' in 'nakha'?
> Monier-Williams dictionary gives:
> nakha
> Meaning m. n. (fr. %{nagh} [?] cf. %{naghamAra} ; prob. not fr.
> %{na} + %{kha} in spite of Pa1n2. 6-3 , 75 ; ifc. f. %{I})
> a finger-nail , toe-nail , claw , talon , the spur of a cock RV.
> &c. &c. (%{-khAni-kR} , or %{klRp} , to cut the nails Kaus3. Mn.) ;
> = 20 Su1ryas. ; n. and (%{I}) f. Unguis Odoratus VarBr2S. Hcat. ;
> m. part , portion. [Cf. Gk. $ , stem $ ; Lat. &162290[524 ,3]
> {unguis} ; Lit. {na4gas} ; Slav. {nogu8ti8} ; Angl. Sax. {naegel} ;
> Eng. {nail} ; Germ. {Nagel}.]
> Are there examples where IE words' -g- change to -kh- in Sanskrit?
> ------------------
> Tamil, a Dravidian language, uses 'nakam' for nail.
> There are examples where word-initial n- is lost in Dravidian.
> nuntu/untu 'to push', nIr 'water' & Iram 'wetness' etc. etc.
> nuntA/nontA-viLakku 'perpetual lamp granted to temples' in old
> tamil inscriptions.
> nuntAviLakku > nantAviLakku (both have very old attestations).
> The tamil nakam is possibly:
> nukam 'yoke' (in a plough or cart) > nakam 'nail'.
> (because like nakam 'nail', yoke sits on a bullock).
> nakam-nukam relations can be seen in another way:
> With initial loss of n-, compare ukam 'yoke' with ukir 'nail'.
> The relation between nakam (tamil) and nakha (sanskrit)
> is interesting.
> Regards,
> N. Ganesan