Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Prefix "a" (or "an") with nouns in the Sanskrit vocabulary

Can the prefix "a" (or "an"), that expresses negation or absence, be used in all nouns in the Sanskrit vocabulary?

In Sanskrit "a" is a prefix which changes the meaning of a word into its opposite. "vidya" means understanding and "avidya" means ignorance. This pattern is same in many Greek words also, like "atheism" vs. "theism", etc.

There are other prefixes also, like "an” and “nir” which denote the opposite of the word they are attached with.

Also, the prefix "vi" is added to a noun make the meaning opposite. E.g. yog योग means joining while viyog वियोग means separation. Again, "vi" prefix has another role of meaning more "specific" or "specialist" than the word attached to, like gyan ज्ञान is knowledge while vigyan विज्ञान is specific knowledge.

So there is no blanket rule that opposite can be made by only attaching "a" or "an" and it varies... 

1 comment:

  1. I am not sure if anyone is still checking this site, but if you are, I would appreciate if you could answer something more appropriately for an expert in Sanskrit or Hindi than us western folk. Abraham is clearly A-brahma, where Brahma is the antropomorphized force of the male creator deity. So would A-Brahma not mean "death?"