Sanskrit & modern Indian: fire


Senior Member
Hindi, English, Punjabi

In another thread, fdb jii said that the Persian for fire is probably derived from the Old Persian accusative singular form. Do you think this is also true for Indian languages? Are H-U "aag", Bengali "aag", Punjabi "agg", etc. derived from the Sanskrit accusative singular "agnim" (अग्निम् )? Can we also say most tadbhava words generally are from the accusative singular or does it vary from one language to another? My guess was nominative singular for most languages.

Thank you!
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  • I have always thought of our aag/agg coming from agni. From my school days I remember being taught about igneous rocks. Even then I had immediately connected this word with our aag.
    Sorry Quresh ji. I phrased the question in a confusing way before. I have changed it now to represent the accusative form.
    Interesting question. I don't know the answer yet, but I have a feeling that the Old Indo-Aryan accusative in -m would probably yield a nasalized vowel at the end of the word in New Indo-Aryan. Gujarati presents an interesting example. Neuter adjectives in G. normally end in -uN (nasalized -u). I won't be surprised if it is the reflex of OIA -am, the neuter nominative+accusative singular. G. masculines, on the other hand normally end in -o, which is same as Western Prakrit form of nominative singular, apparently derived from OIA nom. sing. So, in general, it seems, at least Gujarati, forms would go back to nominative.

    In case of pronouns, some of the NIA nominative forms are clearly from oblique cases though, e.g. H-U maiN. I guess, it happened because of a reanalysis of ergative structures. Some others are from nominative, on the other hand, e.g. H-U "jo-so" (Western Prakrit nom. forms), Bengali "je-se" (Eastern Prakrit nom. forms).

    As for "aag", as I said, I don't know whether it is from nom or any other form of agni, but it is obsolete in modern Bengali. The modern Bengali form is "agun" (or, "aagun" if you want to align the orthography with H-U), which has a strange shape. I seem to remember reading that it was the result of recasting the original "aag/ag" (or was it *aggiN? sorry, I can't remember exactly) under the influence of the Sanskrit "agni". But, I am not sure, and it is not relevant to the thread either.
    On a second thought, for Hindi, Punjabi, etc. that have lost the neuter-masculine opposition, could it have been because of losing the OIA nominative? That is the only case where OIA a-stem (i.e. the dominant declension) neuters and masculines differed in singular. It is also suggestive that H-U, Punjabi masc. nom. sing -A (e.g. achchh-A, chaNg-A) is identical to the Gujarati oblique form (sAr-A) rather than the nominative (masc: sAr-o, neut: sAr-uN). This idea has its problems though:
    1. Where does the H-U, P. masc oblique sing. -e come from then? (Maybe locative? Gujarati locatives - or whatever survives of it - have -e. I guess Punjabi also has something similar?)
    2. What about Brajbhasha (and Rajasthani?) masc. nom. sing. in -o, even though it does not have the masc-neut opposition?
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