Is the word Aryan derived from Skr arya or IIr. *arya

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by mojobadshah, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. mojobadshah Senior Member

    A lot of etymology dictionaries state that the word Arian/Aryan is derived directly from the Skr. arya. What I don't get is why linguists would use a term like Aryan to refer to both the Iranians and the Indians unless the word Aryan was really derived from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-Iranian form *arya, the common ancestor of both the Iranians and Indians.

    This is an abridged history of the word Arian/Aryan as I know it. Wikipedia says the history of Arian as a loanword began in the 18th century where Arian/Aryan is derived from Skr. aria. But the word Arian was first used in the west when it is substituted for the Iranic place-name Ariana in Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History in 1601. In 1807 the form Arya is used to designate the Indians. (Sir William Jones, The works of Sir William Jones pg. 243) I can't find any sources that uses the form Arian in reference to the Indians until 1844, but by then the word is used to designate the Proto-Indo-Iranians or common ancestors of both the Indians and the Iranians. This appears to be because Prichard had assumed that the Bactrians and Iranians called themselves Aria (probably really related to Herat) and the Brahmans used the form Aria (Arya). (James Cowles Prichard, Researches Into the Physical History of Mankid, Vol. 4 pg. 33) Subsequently the form Arian is used exclusively in reference to the Iranians by in 1847 (Karl Otfried Müller Trans. John Leitch, Ancient art and its remains: or a manual of the archaeology of art pg. 219) and 1850 (Professor F. Bopp Trans. Lieutenant Eastwick, M.R.A.S., A comparative Grammar of the Sanskrit, Zend, Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Gothic, German, and Sclavonic Languages pg. 1215 uses Arian in reference to the Iranians). In 1857 the form Arian is used to designate the Indians, Iranians, and Indo-Europeans. But up until this time the word Arian/Aryan is not used exclusively for the Indians. The only term that is used exclusively for the Indians is Arya. So what is the possibility that the etymologists are basically just saying that the form Arian derives from Skr. arya because that's how we know the Proto-Indo-Iranian *arya (which is really where the from Arian derives) was used for the common ancestors of the Indians and Iranians?
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
  2. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    This tiresome question is currently under discussion in two threads in the "Indo-Iranian languages" room. Do we need to repeat it all here?
  3. mojobadshah Senior Member

    Well I posed the question on in one of the threads in the Indo-Iranian language forum, but no one responded. I figured I'd post it in a more appropriate forum to be considerate of other users requests. I also expanded on the question here. But if you feel that its redundant I can post it on the Indo-Iranian language forum where I posted a similar question and we can delete this thread entirely.
  4. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    In Sanskrit, what is the meaning of Arya? The word Aryan/ar- ian of Iran and India might be referring to "human"(i remember the word "ari" of Greek).I think it is a word that describe "man" not the type of race.

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