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Today's etymological thread was inspired by the utterly bonkers song "बंजारा / Wanderer" in the Bollywood film Ek Tha Tiger. India looks at Dublin. Our hero, in love with the mysterious woman who is actually on the other side, falls into a reverie:

So, my eye was caught by the second line, दिल मेरा बंजारा, Dil mera banjaara, my heart is a wanderer, which is repeated throughout the song (sometimes doubled, दिल मेरा दिल मेरा बंजारा, Dil mera dil mera banjaara). दिल dil means "heart" in Hindi. Where did that come from?

English heart is obviously related to Dutch hart, German Herz, Yiddish האַרץ‎/harts, Danish/Norwegian hjerte, Swedish hjärta, Icelandic/Faroese hjarta, Gothic 𐌷𐌰𐌹𐍂𐍄𐍉/hairtō, from ancient Germanic root *hertô from Proto-Indo-European root *ḱḗr with stem *ḱr̥d-.

That *ḱḗr / *ḱr̥d- root is pretty widespread with very little change of meaning in Indo-European languages. Irish croidhe / croí (also sweetheart), Welsh craidd (middle), Greek κῆρ / καρδία, Latin cor / cordis, French cœur, extended a bit for Spanish corazón, Portuguese coração.

That Latin root also gives us courage, accord, concord, discord, record; and the Greek gives us cardiology etc. And related Indo-European *ḱréddʰh₁eti, believe, gives us Latin crēdō and therefore credit, incredible, etc. And Irish creid, to believe, has the same root.

But what about farther East? Well, the Sanskrit word for heart is हृदय, hṛ́daya, which is obviously related and gives the Hindi word हिया hiyā meaning heart. But the Hindi word दिल dil, also meaning heart, is a loan from Persian دل dil (also Urdu دِل and Punjabi ਦਿਲ).

It's not at all obvious, but दिल دل ਦਿਲ dil is also descended from Proto-Indo-European *ḱr̥d- via Proto-Indo-Iranian *ȷ́ʰŕ̥d-. There's apparently a well documented phonetic shift *ȷ́ŕ̥d- > *dŕ̥d > *dŕ̥l > dil., a similar shift giving us Persian گل gol for rose.

Of the other two words in that catchy line, दिल मेरा बंजारा, Dil mera banjaara, My heart is a wanderer, मेरा mera is easy - the word for "my" in most Indo-European languages begins with m (mon, mein/mijn, мой/мој/moj, mo, etc).

बंजारा banjaara, the title of the song, is also the name of a nomadic people in India, but the more I dig into it the less I realise I know about Indian history and geography.

The point is that our hero is lost in love, so let's leave it there.

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April 2023



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