Maybe related, maybe not

I was flipping through an old favourite book, Che Guevara’s ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’. The description of Cuzco as el ombligo del mundo, or the navel of the world, sent my thoughts spinning in a different direction today. I grabbed a pen and scribbled down the chaotic associations that swam around in my head before they could evaporate, as they often do.

The Latin word umbilicus is ombligo in Spanish and bombli in Konkani, my mother tongue. The mbli is common to all three. The English navel is closer to the Sanskrit nabhila and German nabel. 

The word for God is a variation of Dev in many Indian languages. In Hindi it is added to the name of a god as in Ramdev or Krishnadev. In Konkani it is Devu. In Kannada it is Devaru. It is Dios in Spanish, Deu in French, Dyw in Cornish and Dew in Breton (got this from the net).

The word alma, soul in Spanish, and atma, soul in Sanskrit – do they have a common origin?

The colocasia plant that I grow in a pot in the balcony

Pathraday, a spicy roll made out of colocasia leaves, is believed to be a purely Mangalorean (Konkani) dish. But is it? Punjabis make pathrode out of cabbage leaves, something I recently came to know! Does that make the basic recipe for pathrode 2000 years old, when the forefathers of present-day Mangaloreans and Punjabis might have been neighbours along the banks of the Saraswati river?

Kukkad in Punjabi and kunkad in Konkani both mean rooster, or maybe fowl in general.

The Gujarati and the Konkani words for lunch, jaman and jevan respectively, are similar.

The English word name is naam in Hindi, naava in Konkani and Marathi, nombre in Spanish.

You is tu in Hindi, Konkani, Spanish and French…

And of course, the words for father, mother and some body parts like chest (chaati in Hindi), etc. are well known to be similar in many languages.

Some words for water: Czech, Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Croatian and Macedonian – voda, Latvian – ūdens, Albanian – uji, Basque – ura (from the net). In Sanskrit it is udaka and in Konkani it is udaka, or uda.

Ura > uda > voda > water; or water > voda > uda > ura. Is that fanciful, or did it happen like that?

There are five main Dravidian languages. The word for water is nearly the same in four of them – neeru in Kannada, neerlu in Telugu, thanneer in Tamil (abbreviated to neer or thanni) and neer in Tulu. But it’s vellam in Malayalam…

Where does meen, the word for fish in Kannada/Tamil/Malayalam/Tulu, come from? And why is it chaapalu in Telugu? 

Mina is also the constellation of Pisces. Is that from Tamil (Dravidian) or Sanskrit (Aryan), both ancient languages? That is, who named the constellation ‘mina’?

The name meenakshi means ‘eyes shaped like fish’, derived from meena and akshu (‘eyes’ in Sanskrit, as I’ve understood until now). If meena is Tamil and akshu Sanskrit, and Meenakshi is a goddess worshipped by Tamilians, how did akshu come into it? Is akshu a Tamil word absorbed into Sanskrit by Aryans? And Meenakshi is a Dravidian (Tamilian) goddess married to Shiva, an Aryan God!

How exactly were the Aryans and Dravidians connected? Is it even true that Dravidians lived here, and then the Aryan conquerors came and pushed them southwards?


I came across this paper on how it is wrong to jump to conclusions based on phonetic resemblances, when I browsed the internet just now:


The writer, Mark Rosenfelder, goes on to explain why we are so easy to fool. These resemblances are fascinating nevertheless. 

Mark is probably right, and I am one of those folks whose eyes glaze over when you talk about probabilities. I guess I romanticize Proto-World, because the present-day world really gets to me at times. Other times, when I’m comfortably ensconced in bed with a book and the air-conditioner is set at a temperature I like, I can clearly see why those may not have been very good times!


4 thoughts on “Maybe related, maybe not

  1. Fascinating! All the connections seem to point towards so many variations from a general basic nature of language. 🙂


  2. One of my favorite subjects! Agreed – we are wired to look for patterns. Having said that, there seem to be too many similarities to brush them aside. Some other similarities emerge in the fields of religion, rituals, ancient architecture – especially the pyramids. Could these be examples of ‘collective awareness’?


  3. Absolutely ! You might want to have a look up connections between the Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis or , somewhat on the fringe side , Sumerian having legitimate Proto-Dravidian connections . Also the aryan invasion theory is a very pedestrian viewpoint from the scholarly perspective these days , new theories coming up everyday that point a very different common origin (for all P.I.E speakers as well as) aryans-as in the culture not the people because the culture encompassed a wide variety of ethnicities at that point , being mixed with the indigenous populations or simply conquering faraway lands and branching into different linguistic groups.


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