Alex Francois francois at
Sat Mar 25 21:45:14 UTC 2000

potetjp wrote:

> >In the Spanish-Tagalog part of  Noceda & Sanlucar's  dictionary (1860: 452),
> one finds the following entry.
> >"BRACMAN. Pari ó filosofong maronong nang manga tagalog sa una." [Pári' ó
> pilúsupó-ng marúnong nang mangá Tagálog sa úna.] = Brahmin. A priest or
> philosopher formerly known among the Tagalogs.

> > 3) _Bracmán_ is the old Spanish form. The modern one is _brahmán_.
> > Where on earth can this C /k/ come from? Not from Arabic, where the terms is
> _barahman_.
> > Any idea?

I remember that ancient Greek borrowed the Sanskrit word _brahmán_ after
Alexander the Great conquered India (hence after 330 BC, but maybe a couple of
centuries later). Indo-greek kingdoms flourished in Gandhâra (Northern Pakistan)
and Bactriane (South of Uzbekistan) after 3rd century BC.
Since Greek phonology lacked a /h/ phoneme (except on initial position), it used
the 'khi' one, which at that time was still pronounced as a voiceless aspirated
velar stop [kh] (before its evolution into a velar constrictive [x]). Therefore
the form we find in Greek is _brakhmâ:n_, with long final /a/. [at least this
/a/ is long in plural form _brakhmâ:nes_ ].

I am sorry I cannot give any reference, since I have no documentation at hand
right now; I am just remembering a word I saw a few years ago. But this will be
easy to check with Bailly's Greek-French dict. (that must be where I saw the
word first), and certainly with Liddell & Scott's Greek-English lexicon. Both
will tell you the references in Greek literature (which should help track the
word's history back).

I don't know precisely what path Greek _brakhmâ:n_ followed to get to Spanish
_bracmán_ : through Latin translations? through Byzantine civilisation? or just
through a late scientific borrowing (fr. "emprunt savant") ? But it should not
be too difficult to find out.

What do you think about it?


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