language crossovers

I want to know how many different languages the word ‘soul’ can translate into and what are some of the translations. The french is ‘ame’, so we’ll start with that. any takers . . .

âme, to be accurate.

The Arabic word for ‘spirit’ is rûh, coming from a root with several interconnected meanings: ‘to relax’, ‘to breathe’, and ‘to set out moving’. The full range of these meanings, taken together, summarizes all the functions of the breath in Yoga. The Sanskrit word corresponding to rûh is âtman, which also comes from an Indo-European root meaning ‘breath’ (compare the High German word Atem, ‘breath’). The Hebrew cognate is ruah.

Arabic for ‘soul’ and ‘self’ is nafs, which is obviously closely related to the word for ‘breathing’, nafas. The Hebrew cognate is nephesh. Where did this originate?

Bomhard and Kerns, The Nostratic Family of Languages (1993), p. 679-681, identified a Nostratic root *nap[sup][h][/sup]- or **nep[sup][h][/sup]*, meaning ‘to breathe, to blow’. It gave rise to words in two language families, Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic:

Proto-Indo-European *np[sup][h][/sup]- > (with metathesis) **p[sup][h][/sup]n-ew-*, ‘to breathe, to blow’ >
Greek [symbol]pnew[/symbol] ‘to breathe’, [symbol]pneuma[/symbol]. (Note that pneuma in the Greek New Testament is used to mean ‘soul’.)
Old English fneosan ‘to sneeze, to snort’, fnæs ‘breath’.
Julius Pokorny’s Indogermanisches Wörterbuch gave this root as *pneu-.

Proto-Afroasiatic *naf- or *nef- ‘to breathe, to blow’.
Proto-Semitic *nap[sup][h][/sup]-aš- ‘to breathe, to blow’ >
Hebrew ne[symbol]j[/symbol]eš ‘soul, living being, life, self, person’;
Geez/Ethiopic nafsa ‘to blow (wind, spirit)’, nafs ‘soul, spirit, breath, a person, life, self’, nafâs ‘wind, air, spirit’;
Tigre näfsa ‘to blow (wind)’, näfs ‘soul’.

Proto-Semitic *nap[sup][h][/sup]-ax- ‘to breathe, to blow’ >
Hebrew na[symbol]j[/symbol]ah ‘to breathe, to blow’;
Arabic nafaha ‘to blow, to puff, to breathe, to blow up, to inflate’;
Amharic näffa ‘to blow, to play the flute, to inflate’

Proto-Semitic *nap[sup][h][/sup]-at’- ‘to blow one’s nose, to sneeze’ >
Arabic nafata ‘to sneeze’;
Geez/Ethiopic nafata ‘to blow one’s nose’;
Tigrinya näffätä ‘to blow the nose’.

Proto-Semitic *’anp[sup][h][/sup]- ‘nose, nostril’ >
Hebrew *’a[symbol]j[/symbol] ‘nose, nostril, face’;
Akkadian appu ‘nose’;
Arabic ’anf ‘nose’;
Geez/Ethiopic ’anf ‘nose, nostril’;

Egyptian nf ‘air, wind, breath’; nfy ‘to breathe, to blow at’; nfwt, nfwyt ‘breezes’, fnd/u] (<**nfd) ‘nose’.

Berber: Tamazight ss-unfes ‘to breathe’, Kabyle enfes ‘to breathe’.

Proto-East Cushitic *nass- or *ness- (<**nafs/nefs) ‘to breathe, to rest’ >
Somali nas-ad- ‘to breathe, to rest’;
Konso ness-a ‘soul, breath, noise’;
Dullay nass-ad- ‘to breathe’, nass-o ‘soul, life, spirit, breath’.

In many language families around the world, the words for ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’ are directly related to the word for ‘breath’. To take a few examples:

Finnish henki ‘breath, life force’.

Hawaiian hanu ‘to breathe’, uhane ‘spirit’.

Hungarian szél ‘air’, szellem spirit (originally a loanword from archaic Turkic. In Turkish, yel means ‘wind’ but also means ‘evil spirit’ :eek: ).

Latin spiritus ‘breath’.

Mongolian ami ‘breath, life, spirit, soul’.

Russian dykhanie ‘breath’, vozdukh ‘air’, dukh ‘spirit’. (From Proto-Indo-European *dhuks- ‘breath’.)

Swahili upepo ‘air’, pepo ‘spirit’.

Warlpiri (an Australian Aboriginal language) wangu ‘wind, spirit’.

Arabic nasamah / Hebrew neshamah means the vital principle in the breath that animates an organism.

English soul comes from Old English sawol. It’s related to the words for soul in other Germanic languages: Old Frisian sêle, Old Saxon seola, Middle Low German sêle, Old Low Franconian sêla, Middle Dutch siele (modern Dutch ziel), Old High German sêula (Modern German Seele), and Gothic saiwala. All these derive from the reconstructed Common Germanic word *saiwalo.

The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology points out that Gothic saiws means ‘lake, sea’, so he interprets Proto-Germanic *saiwalo to mean “'coming from the sea, belonging to the sea, because that was supposed to be a stopping place of the soul before birth and after death, according to F. Kluge’s Etymologisches Wörterbuch des deutschen Sprache. No cognates are found outside Germanic. The meaning of a disembodied spirit of a (deceased) person is first recorded in Old English in 971, and that of a person, individual (as in every living soul aboard ship), about 1000.”

But John Ayto, author of the Dictionary of Word Origins, connects the Proto-Germanic *saiwalo with the Greek word aiólos ‘quick moving’. “Behind the word soul lies the ancient notion of the soul as something mercurial or fleeting.” Do you think he’s right?

Life is real, life is earnest
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest
Was not spoken of the soul.

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “A Psalm of Life”

The French word âme that you started out with comes from Latin anima ‘life, breath, spirit, mind, courage’. From Proto-Indo-European ane- ‘to breathe’. Also gave rise to Greek ánemos ‘wind’, Sanskrit ániti ‘to breathe’, Old English othian ‘to breathe’, Swedish anda 'breath, spirit’, and Gothic usanan ‘to breathe out’.

Also, a girl’s name: Proto-Celtic *anatyo- > Middle Welsh eneit, ‘soul’ > Enid.

The Dutch word for soul is “ziel”.

Alma is how you say it in Portuguese.

Polish: duh (pronounced dooKH with a guttural fricative KH like in Scottish loch)

In Hebrew, there are several words you can use.

One word commonly used is neshumuh. This word is commonly translated as soul.

Another word is nefesh. This word, however, can also be translated as spirit or life-force, as the word can also be applied to animals, whereas neshumuh cannot.

Zev Steinhardt

And in Pali, the language the Buddha used, the word is atta, more commonly translated as “self” or “ego.” Pali is descended from Sanskrit, hence the similarity in the two words.

vinryk and Zev_Steinhart, I already covered those words. Or didn’t you read my posts?

Same in spanish. I see someone already covered arabic :slight_smile: