Hindi/Urdu: gobhii, gobii

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Wolverine9, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Turner suggests this word for cabbage/cauliflower originates from the Skt. gojihvikaa-, while Massica and Molesworth claim it was borrowed from the Portuguese couve. Which is the more likely scenario?
  2. Lugubert Senior Member

    The Portuguese theory seems likely if the plants were introduced by Portuguese traders from the Mediterranean, where many Brassica species are native. But Platts' Urdu and McGregor's Hindi dictionaries think Sanskrit. My Google-fu wasn't enough to find an Indian arrival period for the veggies.
  3. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Does Portuguese have an aspirated b (bh) as in "gobhii"? If it does n't, to my mind it seems unlikely for a b to become bh in Urdu/Hindi. Based on this logic I am reluctant to accept that it has Portuguese origins.

    Urdu and Hindi, to the best of my knowledge do not have a "local Indic" name for cabbage. It is normally called a "band gobhii" (closed gobhii) whereas a cauliflower is "phuul-gobhii" (flower-gobhii).
  4. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    No, Portuguese doesn't have a bh sound. There is, however, a precedent for the Portuguese v to become b or bh in words borrowed into Hindi/Urdu. For example, chaabii/chaabhii is from the Portuguese 'chave'.

    The name phuul-gobhii itself suggests a European influence because both the English cauliflower and the Portuguese couve-flor have a suffix meaning "flower" incorporated into the names.

    It's somewhat hard to believe that its a mere coincidence for both the Hindi/Urdu 'gobhii' and Portuguese 'couve' to be used in words for cabbage and cauliflower.

    Although, it is possible that gobhii may have originally referred to an entirely different vegetable/plant, since its supposed Skt. origin 'gojihvikaa' is defined as 'a particular kind of plant'. Thus, cabbage/cauliflower may have been introduced by the Europeans and the term gobhii may have been applied to it due to the phonetic resemblance to couve.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
  5. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    In which language does one find "chaabhii"?
  6. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    [Perhaps not relevant to the etymology, but 'cauliflower' is normally called 'gobhii', without the phuul part.]

    What can be relevant is the fact that Platts' dictionary lists 'kobii' with the same meaning, which at the first sight bears more resemblance to the Portuguese word, I think.

    Wolverine9, you've mentioned Turner's suggestion of Sanskrit etymology from gojihvikaa, but the following dictionary entries rather suggest that there are two homonymous words ''gobhii'', out of which one has the said etymology (gojihvaa) but does not mean ''cabbage'' or ''cauliflower'' but a kind of grass (Hindi):

    गोभी संज्ञा स्त्री० [सं० गोजिह्वा (= बनगोभी) या गुम्भ (= गुच्छा)] एक प्रकार की घास, जिसके पत्ते लंबे, खरखरे, कटावदार और फूलगोभी के पत्तों के रंग के होतो हैं । गोजिया । बनगोभी । विशेष—इसमें पीले रंग के चक्राकार फूल लगते हैं और पत्तों के बीच में एक बाल निकलती है । इसे पशु बड़े चाव से खाते हैं । वैद्यक में यह शीतल, कडुई, हलकी, वातकारक और कफ, पित्त, खाँसी, रुधिरविकार, अरुचि, फोड़ा, ज्वर और सब प्रकार के विष का दोष दूर करनेवाली मानी गई है ।

    and another word does mean ''cabbage'' but doesn't share the etymology (no etymology given):

    गोभी संज्ञा स्त्री० [अं० कैबेज] एक प्रकार का शाक । विशेष—इसकी खेती इधर कुछ दिनों भारत में अधिकता से होने लगी है । वनस्पति शास्त्र के ज्ञाता इसके क्षुप को रोई या सरसों की जाति का मानते हैं । यह तीन प्रकार की होती है—फूल गोभी, गाँठगोभी (दे० 'गाँठगोभी' ) और पातगोभी या करमकल्ला (दे० 'करमकल्ला') । फूलगोभी को साधारणतः गोभी ही कहते हैं । इसका डंठल, जो जमीन में गड़ा होता है, साधारण गन्ने के बराबर मोटा होता है और एक बालिश्त या इससे कुछ अधिक लंबा होता है । इसके ऊपर चारो ओर चौडे मोटे और बड़े पत्ते होते हैं जिनके बीच में बहुत छोटे छोटे मुँहबँधे फूलों का गुथा हुआ समूह रहता है । खिले हुए फूलोंवाली गोभी खराब समझी जाती है । यह कार्तिक के अंत तक तैयार हो जाती है और जाड़े भर रहती है । इसके फूल की तरकारी बनती है और मुलायम पत्तों का साग बनाया जाता है । यह सुखाकर भी पखी जाती है और दूसरी ऋतुओं में काम आती है । ३. पौधों का गोभ नामक एक रोग ।

    I hope you can figure out something from this piece of information.
  7. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I agree. But it could be a "semantic calque", that is: two genuine Indian words used in a European-based compound.

    The only real agreement is between -bh- and -v-. So it is not a very great coincidence.

    That is always possible. But I think there have been cabbages in India for a long time. Turner's "gōjihvikā -- , °hvā -- f. ʻ a partic. kind of plant" is simply a cautious way of saying that the Old Indian evidence is not copious enough for us to know exactly which plant the "cow-tongue" was.

    NB. Overlap with Marrish.
  8. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Hindi/Urdu. Platts lists both chaabii and chabhii.

    I believe the अं० indicates that the proposed etymology is English (angrezii). If there is a European origin for the word, I personally think Portuguese is a more likely source than English.

    So are you saying that the c in Portuguese 'couve' is unlikely to become the g of Hindi 'gobhii'? There is also the alternate form kobii as marrish mentioned, in which the Portuguese c sound would be preserved.
  9. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    The complete entry in Turner is as follows:

    4270 gōjihvikā -- , °hvā -- f. ʻ a partic. kind of plant ʼ Suśr. [gṓ -- , jihvāˊ -- ]
    L. gobhī, (Ju.) ghoḇī f. ʻ cabbage ʼ, P. gobhī f., N. gobhi, gobi, ko°, kopi; Aw. lakh. gōbhī ʻ cauliflower ʼ; H. gobhī f. ʻ cabbage, the medicinal herb Elephantophus scaber ʼ, gobī, kobhī, kopī f. ʻ cabbage ʼ; M. gobhī f. ʻ a partic. medicinal herb ʼ.
    Addenda: gōjihvikā -- : WPah.kṭg. gobbi f. ʻ cabbage ʼ.

    So, there is g ~ k variation in N(epali) and H(indi), but the fact that all the cited languages have forms with g- seems to suggest that this is older. But, maybe not.

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