I came across a discussion about if "Lufthansa" means air-Swan, inspired by the sanskrit word hansa swan. Which is of course wrong as it has its origins in the old german word hansa for group or fellowship. But inspired by the question I thought about which would be the sanskrit "version" of the word (in the sense of which one might have come from the same origin, I miss the term sry). My idea was sangha, it means also group and the like and it would also match the s/k,h phonetic change as suggested by satem-kentum. My questions are

  1. How far can we extrapolate the old german word hansa back to pre-germanic languages how would it have sounded there?
  2. Could it be that hansa and sangha have a common origin?
  3. Where comes Sanskrit sangha from?

(I am no expert for linguistics, so please apologize eventually wrong terms or conceptions, I am happy to learn about how to do it better)

1 Answer 1


Sangha is from Sanskrit *saṃ- (PIE *sem) "together" + *han- (PIE *gʷʰén) "strike, kill", and originally in Sanskrit meant "struck, put together". Hansa (referring to the Hanseatic league) is reconstructed to Proto-Germanic *hansō, and deeper relations are speculative. Germanic *h would derive from either PIE *k or *k'; PIE *k becomes Skt. [k] and PIE *k' appears as [ś] in Skt (*š in the Iranian branch). If a Sanskrit word with [ś] were actually related to a Germanic word with *h (*x), we would have to conclude that at least one of the words was a borrowing from another language. For example, path is clearly derived from IE *pent, but the consonant phonology is wrong for native Germanic development, and it is hypothesized that the Germanic word comes through Iranian. Despite the meaning similarities, the historical sound differences indicate that the words are unrelated.

  • 2
    You need to put * before reconstructed forms.
    – fdb
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 21:40
  • Thank you for the comprehensive answer (I am quite impressed)! But do I understand correctly that some relation, at last to the "saṃ" part, given it was Indo-Iranian š/ś, we at least cannot completely rule out, or are they also too different? Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 22:28
  • 1
    Hopefully I've clarified the meaning parts of the Sanskrit form.
    – user6726
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 15:03
  • 1
    @AlexB. The answer has been (wrongly) edited since I commented on it. The Skt lemmas should not have an asterisk; the PIE forms should.
    – fdb
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 9:07
  • 1
    Current Sanskritist usage is to transcribe verbal roots in caps (HAN).
    – fdb
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 9:20

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