Tamil/Sinhalese: Serendip

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Lotfi MA

Member
Arabic
Hello everybody!

Arabian merchants used since antiquity to sail in the Indian Ocean to exchange merchandises with peoples of Indian subcontinent including now Sri Lanka.

When haired a name of a place, a title or any thing new to them, Arabs gave it that same word(s) to it as a name being pronounced the closest to the Arabic phonetics.
For example, this has happened with China (pronounced: Seen صين, from very old Chinese: Sin), Sicily (pronounced: Saqaliya صَقَلية, from Greek: Sikelia), Ceasar (pronounced: Qaisar قيصَر, from Latin: Caesar), and so on and so forth.

So, Arabs must have heard (thousands of years ago) a name for Sri Lanka of a word or two, in Tamil or in Sinhalese which is(are) very closely pronounced: sarandeeb, serendeeb, or sri endeeb (with either 'b' or 'p").

Could native Tamil or Sinhalese educated people help find this word(s) from their lexicon?
 
  • Cilquiestsuens

    Senior Member
    French
    I am no native speaker of any South Indian language but I see your thread unanswered and it is a pity.

    What I know in my limited knowledge is that the old name of the Island is actually a Sanskrit name:

    Saran comes from Swarna which means Gold.

    Deeb comes from Dweep which means Island...

    (The Golden Island)

    And it is most probable that the natives of the island themselves had simplified the pronounciation to saran-deep in old times.


    PS: I was not able to find any references from the internet but it seems that some dravidian nationalists deny this etymology but they are quite biased and aren't able to give any kind of convincing evidence.

    Note about swarna. It could also be interpreted as su-warna, which would mean beautifully coloured.

    I hope some Sri Lankan History or Sanskrit experts will join the discussion and enlighten us.
     
    Last edited:

    Lotfi MA

    Member
    Arabic
    Dear Cilquiestsuens,

    I highly appreciate your attitude, and see your contribution quite valuable.
    I hope with you that some Sri Lankan History or Sanskrit experts will join the discussion and enlighten us.

    Thanks a lot.
     

    Cilquiestsuens

    Senior Member
    French
    Thanks Lotfi MA for your kind words,

    It is actually a very interesting topic and not very well documented apparently... I am quite surprised by the lack of sources on the question... and the absence of reaction from the foreros, although a number of them are Sanskrit-savvy...
     

    Lotfi MA

    Member
    Arabic
    Yes, Cilquiestsuens, I accord with your surprising by the lack of sources on the question, but I add that the original words of the name could well be Malayalam too, since there have been historical ties between the Island and the region of Kerala (Malayalam) that Arabs were in good mercantile connections with them even.

    Thanks for the kind care on the question.
     

    leomax

    New Member
    India
    I think it come from sinhala-dvipa (dvip),
    dvipa,dvip - Island.
    which stands for island of sinhalese people.
     

    Lotfi MA

    Member
    Arabic
    Thanks Leomax for your valuable contribution.

    I outweigh this Sinhala pronunciation for the same word Cilquiestsuens gave in Sanskrit (dweep), particularly if it have possibly been pronounced as 'dip' (2000 years ago, or older).
    Couldn't you, Leomax, find me the first word in Sinhala lexicon that end with letter 'n' and comes close from the syllabus: Saran, Saren, Seren?

    Thanks in anticipation.
     

    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    Yes, Cilquiestsuens, I accord with your surprising by the lack of sources on the question, but I add that the original words of the name could well be Malayalam too, since there have been historical ties between the Island and the region of Kerala (Malayalam) that Arabs were in good mercantile connections with them even.

    Thanks for the kind care on the question.
    You are right, Sri Lankan Tamil is, linguistically speaking, closer to Malayalam than contemporary Tamil Nadu Tamil (but not in the mind of their speakers tho').


    The name Sri Lanka itself is pretty new, and not preferred in Tamil (whose speakers don't like either Sinhala or Sanskrit).
    Tamils still call the island ''Eelam''.
    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=98&artid=30919


    Wikipedia page could help you:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_Sri_Lanka
     
    Last edited:

    Lotfi MA

    Member
    Arabic
    Dear Leomax,
    Thanks for referring me to the discussion on Serendipity, and your ongoing trying.

    Believe it or not, you may be surprised to know that the word: "Serendipity" has been created by a British called: Horace Walpole (1717 – 1792), who has lived in the Levant, from a Persian tail (The Three Princess of Serendip). Persian borrowed the Arabic ancient transliterated name of that Island: Sri Lanka. He gave it the meaning: Sudden and unexpected discoveries, from the context of the tail, and thus it has been adopted in the English lexicon!!

    Arabs, as I mentioned earlier, have been in commercial connection with almost all costal Indian subcontinent starting before Christ, and that connections went southward to now Maldives which they named IN ARABIC language: Zeebato Almohl, literally meaning: the (volcanic) lava-created land. And that is why their language, though is a dialect of Sinhala, written in a slightly deviated Arabic alphabet. Still, they went eastwards to the South China Sea and Philippines for trade.

    One more piece of information is that Arabs' trade has covered the ancient Greek world from Alexandria (Egypt) to Sicily (Italy) to now Turkey centuries before Christ. So, Arabs have brought a lot of the Indian subcontinent to Roman/Byzantine World, and were the mean to bring Roman/Byzantine things to Indian subcontinent, before any European reach a spot of the subcontinent till Marco Polo. For example, the rice has been introduced to Europeans by Arabs who had been importing it from India (Arabs transliterated its Indian name, and so did Europeans from Arabs).
     

    langDino

    New Member
    India - Tamil & English
    The explanation of "Swarna Dweep" sounds more logical. Other islands in the area like Maldives and Lakshadeep (India) have similar name origins.

    To my knowledge, Sri Lanka was always referred to as Eelam in the older Tamil texts.

    And as an FYI, I don't hate Sinhala/Sanskrit nor does any of my friends.
     

    Lotfi MA

    Member
    Arabic
    Dear LangDino,
    Your participation is welcome, and convincing that you are a fair man.

    As a matter of fact, Arab traders used to deal verbally with the Indian nations, though they knew that Indian nations have variant languages. They kept and dealt with no texts, but those of them that have settled their and merged into the natives, especially after Islam.
     
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