object:5.3.05 - The Root Mal in Greek
book class:Vedic and Philological Studies
author class:Sri Aurobindo
subject class:Integral Yoga
The first root I shall take, not at random but for the ease and generosity with which it assists our investigation, is the root mal, to flourish, bloom, etc. I choose this root for two strong reasons,first, because it is common in full plentifulness of its derivatives to the three languages, Greek, Tamil and Latin, as well as to Sanscrit, and, secondly, because its consonants are among the least liable to change in the whole range of the once common alphabet. All four languages preserve the l and the initial m, in spite of the occasional permissibility of the change of l to r and m to b in some of these languages. I will first pursue this root through its ramifications in Greek.
The root mal I take as a secondary root from the primary ma, to contain, measure, embrace, possess, complete, end, cease, perfect, mature, thrive, approach, reach, move forward, etc with other derivative meanings. The letter l adds an idea of softness, diminutiveness, youth, or beauty to these ideas. Hence the root means primarily, to bloom, thrive, flourish; then, to be plump, strong, abundant; to be soft, sweet, gentle, tender, beautiful; to faint, languish, decline, wither, be stained, tarnished, soiled, dirty.
Let us see whether we find these significances in Greek. I have said that the consonants m and l do not change; on the other hand, the vowel a is subject to several modifications in Greek, indeed to almost all possible modifications. It appears sometimes as a, sometimes as o, sometimes as e, and each of these vowels may be lengthened by a common tendency in Greek to the corresponding diphthong ,o, . We must remember also that the root mal would form some of its derivative words by the lengthening of the a, eg ml, mlya etc which would reappear in Greek either as long or . These modifications I now take for granted, but I shall prove each of them by numerous examples when I come to deal with the phenomena of phonetic change in the development of the Greek Prakrits.
We find, then, in Greek the following derivatives of mal (mala), much, very, exceedingly, surely (from sense to be abundant), o (mllon), (malista), more, most, obviously for an original malyam, maliha, regularly formed comparatives from mala; (malakos), soft, (Rt mal, to be soft, by adding the common adjectival termination aka), with its derivatives , , , , , as well as , I soften; (maleros), bright, clear; also, hot, consuming (from Rt mal, to bloom, be beautiful; to be abundant, excessive, strong, with the common termination ara); o (malion), long hair, Greek for mlyam (on being the regular Greek formation for am) from Rt mal, to be luxuriant, abundant, in bloom; (mallos), fleece, wool, hair, and its derivative (malltos); (maltha), soft wax, tablet; (malthass), I soften, (malthakos), soft, from Rt malh, derivative of mal, presenting the same meaning with a greater force (for Greek for h compare Athana for Ahana and numerous other examples); (malos), soft, tender, downy; (malk), numbness or torpidity, from the transitive sense, to soften, relax, unnerve, and its derivative (malki); finally, (mal), armpit, whether from its being hairy, or from its being a soft and sensitive part of the body. These are all examples in which no single letter of the root has been changed and in all, except the last, the connection in sense with our root mal is clear, consistent and direct.
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