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I have decided to upload a draft of my RUSSIAN – SANSKRIT DICTIONARY OF COMMON AND COGNATE WORDS which is the result of some eight years of work. This dictionary has been conceived as a practical reference book with the objective of providing factual material for researchers in the field of the Indo-European linguistics or anyone interested in etymology, semantics and the origin of the Indo-European, particularly, Slavonic languages. Compiling a dictionary is time-consuming and it is a mammoth task to do for a single person. The first draft published here is only a rough approximation. It contains only 488 entries, which is about a quarter of the planned volume, and still lacks some essential parts in the Introduction section. The entries have not yet been properly proof-read and I am constantly updating the comments.

 Index of entries

You may access the text at my page on

Although this work is titled ‘Dictionary’ it is neither a traditional Russian-Sanskrit dictionary nor a formal etymological dictionary, but rather a catalogue of various cognate, common or otherwise connected Russian and Sanskrit words, arranged is a systematic way with cross-references, explanatory notes, links to other Slavonic and Indo-European languages, indexes and other features aimed at making it a valuable and convenient reference book. The specific task called for employing both Cyrillic and Devanagarī scripts throughout the book because transliteration, however elaborate, cannot fully replace the native writing system. Since it is unlikely that every reader would be proficient in both scripts, each word is accompanied by a conventional transliteration.

In writing this book I endeavoured to go through all major works dedicated to this issue starting from the discovery of Sanskrit and its relation to the European languages in general, and particularly to Slavonic, covering the period from the 17th century up to the modern days. Each proposed cognate word has been carefully evaluated, checked through various dictionaries and, sometimes, re-linked or rejected. This method provided some eight hundred pairs that made the back-bone of the dictionary. The rest of the cognate pairs (about another thousand two hundred) are the result of many years of scrupulous research.

Many cognate pairs are obvious, some need more or less detailed explanations and might be difficult to apprehend without some basic knowledge of the principal linguistic concepts and terms. This is why the dictionary is prefaced by an Introduction containing some essential information about the Russian and Sanskrit languages and their phonetic and grammatical features with particular attention to the principal rules of sound correlation. This section is now in work and it is not included in this draft.

I would be grateful for any constructive criticism or comments. If you would like to support this project there are several ways of helping me with the work:

  •  report any spelling or other mistakes that you have noticed
  •  suggest any other cognate pairs
  • check the various cognates I mention in Slavonic and other languages if they happen to be in your native language

I would like to demonstrate here the remarkable phonetic affinity between Sanskrit and Russian taking two dozen of unquestionable cognate pairs as examples.  It is well known that all Indo-European languages contain a greater or lesser number of common words but only Slavonic and, to a lesser degree, Baltic languages approximate Sanskrit to such an extent that in me instances the difference between certain Slavonic languages could be greater than between some Slavonic languages and Sanskrit.

Take the  word for `spindle’: Sanskrit  vartana, Russian vereteno, Bulgarian. vretе́no, Slovenian vreténo, Czech vřeteno, Polish wrzeciono, Upper Sorbian wrjećeno and Lower Sorbian rjeśeno.  The phonetic shape of cognates in other Indo-European languages differs considerably.

A good example is the word `alive’: Sanskrit jīva, Russian živ, Lithuanian gývas, Greek bíos, Latin vīvus,  Irish biu,   Gothic qius, Old High German quес, and English quick.

Transliteration notes

Sanskrit: ā, ī, ū – long sounds;  = ri (a short   similar to Rus. soft рь/r‘); c=chj similar to j in “jam”;  ṣ  similar to shś  a subtler sort of sh, closer to German /ch/  as in  ich.

Russian:  š  similar to sh; č = chž = like g in garage , the vowel y  is a sort of  ‘hard’  i  sounding somewhat similar to unstressed i   in Eng. it .  the  sign ‘ indicates softness and stands for a very short i . Vowels with  j are iotated so ju would be similar to Eng.  you and Skr. yu  etc.

Skt. Rus. Lith. Greek Latin Goth. OHG/Ger. Eng
bhrātṛ brat brólis phrátēr frāter brōþar Bruder brother
bhrū brov’ bruvis ophrus brāwa brow
vidhava vdova vidua widuwō Widuwō widow
vartana veretenò Wirtel spindle
viś ves’  viešė oikos vīcus weihs abode, village, home
vātṛ veter vėtra wind
vṛka volk vilkas lýkos lupus wulfs Wulfs wolf
dvār dver’ dùrys thýra forēs daúr turi door
dvaya dvoe dvejì twaddjē two of smb.
devṛ dever’ dieveris daḗr lēvir zeihhur husband’s brother
dina den’ dienà diēs day
dam, dama dom nãmas(?) dō̂ma domus house, home
janī žena gynḗ qino wife
jīva živ gývas bíos vīvus qius quес alive
jñāna znanie žinios gnōsis knowledge
kada kogda kada when
katara kotoryj kuris póteros uter ƕаþаr hwedar which
kumbha kub kýmbos cupa pitcher
laghu ljogok leñgvas elaphrós levis leihts lungar light
roci luč leukós lūх liuhaþ light, ray
madhu mjod medùs méthy metu honey
mūṣ myš’ mŷs mūs mûs mouse
mās mjaso mėsà mimz(?) meat

Note that we compare the attested languages and not hypothetical `reconstructions’ however, according to  Antoine Meillet:

“[..] Baltic and Slavic show the common trait of never having undergone in the course of their development any sudden systemic upheaval. […] there is no indication of a serious dislocation of any part of the linguistic system at any time. The sound structure has in general remained intact to the present.  […] Baltic and Slavic are consequently  the only languages in which certain modern word-forms resemble those reconstructed for Common Indo-European.” ( The Indo-European Dialects [Eng. translation of  Les dialectes indo-européens (1908)], University of Alabama Press, 1967, pp. 59-60).

See also my other posts:

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I would like to recommend this  popular article “Making Archaeology Speak – Archaeology and Linguistics”  by  Maciej Mateusz Wencel  (born in Gdynia, northern Poland, currently reads an Undergraduate Course in Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford University). It is very well written  and well balanced. I have arrived to very similar ideas  and agree with  most of what he has written.

Here are some  extracts: Read the rest of this entry »

In my previous post I gave a list of  some Sanskrit-Russian cognate verbs which  showed a remarkable phono-semantic affinity. This closeness  also extends to grammatical endings. I would like to demonstrate it here taking as an example one Sanskrit verb jīvati ‘lives, is or remains alive’.   For Russian I chose a less used  form живать živat‘  which  in modern Russian is predominantly used  with prefixes  e. g. проживать proživat‘.  It is an exact analogue of Sankrit  jīvati  and Avestan  ǰvaiti.    To make the comparison more obvious I also included  Lithuanian and Latin cognates. Hopefully,  this comparison is self-explanatory.

Some notes:

There are many theories  on the nature of  verbal systems in  the ancient dialects that are commonly referred to as  ‘Indo-European’ and ‘proto-Indo-European’.  As I have already written in the comments,  I do not accept the idea of a  uniform ‘proto-language’. I do use these terms but  only as  ‘umbrella terms’ meaning a certain simplified  generalisation.

There is a general consensus that ‘Indo-European’  verbs were conjugated  (at least in the present tense) by  person (First, Second and Third) and by number (Singular, Dual and Plural). These grammatical  categories were expressed by means of  special endings which were added to the  verbal stem .  It should be noted that  ‘verbal stem’ as well as ‘verbal root’ are  abstractions. For example, ancient Sanskrit grammarians did not  single out the root. Instead they  operated with  dhātu  ‘constituent part, ingredient, element’. The notion of a verbal root  was  brought in by Western scholars  inspired by Semitic monosyllabic  CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) roots. So when we see in a modern dictionary  a root  jīv,  according to Pāṇini, this would be a  dhātu  jīva ‘living, existing, alive’.  From the point of Western linguists it would be viewed as  a  CVC root  jīv + a so-called ‘thematic vowel‘ –a. Together they would form a ‘stem’ which may be taken as an equivalent of dhātu.  For convenience I mark the  root in italic, thematic vowel in blue and the personal ending in red. I also added  hypothetical (reconstructed)  thematic vowels and personal endings based on a more traditional interpretation of Fortson (Indo-European Language and Culture. Blackwell Publishing. 2004).


Sanskrit  j is  [ɟ͡ʝ] (similar to j in jam],    is  a visarga ‘sending forth, letting go, liberation, emission, discharge’. It is a voiceless ‘breath out’  like an energetic [h]. In certain positions at  words conjunctions  visarga  becomes /s/ or /r/.  Long vowels are marked with a bar above so ī  is  [i:]. Because Russian stressed vowels are primarily characterised by length,  I transliterate them in the similar manner so ā  is a stressed a . By the way, Sanskrit  should be pronounced as [ɐ] or  [ə]  which exactly corresponds to the Russian unstressed a.

I transliterate here Cyrillic using the same system of Latin  transliteration  as  commonly used for  Devanāgarī  so  Russian ш [ʂ] commonly transliterated as š  or sh,  appears here as  ṣ. This is particularly justified because Sanskrit  is also a retroflex sibilant.   Also I transliterate here  ж [ʒ] (ž or zh)  as j. However,  Lithuanian  j   is [j]. Lithuanian g is [g]  and y is [].

Singular  Hypothetical “IE” Plural  Hypothetical “IE”
 1st (I) Skr. jīvāmi
*-oh₂ 1st (we) jīvāmaḥ *-omos
Rus. jivāyu jivāem
Lith. gyvoju
Lat. vīvō vīvimus
2nd (you) Skr. jīvasi *-esi 2nd (you) jīvatha *-ete
Rus. jivāe jivāete
Lith. gyvuoji gyvuojate
Lat vīvis vīvitis
3rd (he/she/it) Skr. jīvati *-eti 3rd (they) jīvanti *-onti
Rus. jivāet jivāyut
Lith. gyvuoja gyvuoja
Lat. vīvit vīvunt

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I recommend this new book as a fairly balanced introduction into the argument on the origins of Sanskrit and the Vedic culture.

“The earliest Indian inscriptions date from the third century before Christ.  Archaeological and palaeo-anthropological evidence, as well as the Indian oral tradition, consistently  point  to the ‘continuity’ of the Indian Civilization back to a much earlier date. However, the question of the origin of Indian Civilization prior to that period remains open. There are three main schools of thought in this regard. Proponents of the Indo-European theory suggest that the Sanskrit language and civilization were an intrusion into India from the West. Proponents of the continuity theory, on the contrary, believe that they arose locally. The third school of thought proposes that the current scholarship is insufficient to trace the Sanskrit language and civilization back to pre-historical times, and that further research is required to develop a fair comparison between the European languages and the Indian languages. Published literature  in the field often reflects one or the other of these perspectives, rather than offering an integrated view. Read the rest of this entry »

The topic of Iranian loans into Slavonic has become a common place in Slavistics reflecting, to a considerable extent, the stereotype view on Slavonic mainly as a target language for borrowing. In reality, the number of truly attested Iranian loans is confined to a rather short list of words. Strictly speaking, the term ‘iranism (иранизм)’, widely used in Russian linguistic literature, stands for a direct borrowing from one of the attested Iranian languages.  However, according to the academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Oleg Nikolajevič Trubačev, such loans are limited to a few cultural terms such as *kotъ ‘stall, small cattle shed’, *čьrtogъ ‘inner part of a house’, *gun’a ‘shabby clothes, rags’, *kordъ ‘short sward’, *toporъ ‘axe’ etc., plus a separately standing group of religious terms and names of gods. However, even if any of these words are indeed borrowings they may not  necessarily be ‘iranisms’ in the true sense (i. e. direct borrowings from one of the attested Iranian languages). Read the rest of this entry »

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