James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Thu May 29 02:35:09 UTC 2008

>The word "namaste" is not italicized, but the quotes and
>capitalization leave the intended status of the word ambiguous.  In
>other cases, he uses a comma and sentence capitalization (or just
>italics) to indicate quotations. Without the comma, it's unclear
>whether the capitalization is intended to indicate that the word is

Since the word is a sentence unto itself (namah "I bow" + te "to
you", with sandhi changing h to s), I suspect that the capitalization
is intended just as sentence capitalization.

You're right, it's increasingly common, especially with the
popularity of yoga. The more amusing thing on that point, however, is
that the readership you would expect for Crichton is not by and large
the set you would expect at yoga. That may simply be a false
stereotype, however -- my wife is reading Crichton as I type this,
and she is very much of the yoga constituency.

"Namaste" also reminds me of how some people seem to like to
overtranslate some things -- to produce an interpretative explication
and call it a translation. In the case of "namaste," I read one piece
during my work on my dissertation -- I blush to say I think this was
by the subject of my dissertation -- wherein it was asserted that
"namaste" meant "I bow to the 'you' in you."

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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