Saturday, 8 September 2012

THE SANSKRIT CONNECTION TO THE NAME 'WYOMING'

The state of Wyoming is named after the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. The Seneca name for Wyoming (Valley) in Pennsylvania is 'Tsanandowa' - meaning "the place of the great flats" or "great meadows". A Sanskrit cognate of 'Tsanandowa' is 'Sama-dhara' (सम-धरा), meaning 'level earth' or 'great meadows'. 'Sama' (सम) has many meanings in Sanskrit including 'equal, same, and parallel'. It is also the etymological source of the English word 'similar'. 'Dhara' (धरा)  is earth.

According to Ben's Guide to U.S. Government, the name Wyoming is based on an Algonquin Indian word meaning "large prairie place." Bright, William (2004). states in his Native American Place Names of the United States, pg. 576,  the name is derived from the Delaware (Munsee) name xwé:wamənk, meaning "at the big river flat", originally applied to the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. 

Later the name 'Wyoming' was transported westward, and that is how Wyoming state got its name. Sometimes, it is said that the Native American source word for Wyoming' is 'xwe wamenk' with the same meaning - 'the great plains'. In Sanskrit, 'variman' (वरिमन्) means 'expanse'. 'Vyoman' (व्योमन् ) means 'atmosphere', 'space', 'sky' or 'open expanse'. 'Xwe' could be a distortion of 'eksay (एक्ष्य) meaning 'looking out at'.

Whether these words are in any ways linked to the etymology of the Native American words is difficult to say. But they definitely are close cognates.

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