"Na-MAST" or "Na-mas-TAY"?


Namaste or Namastay are both correct enough to get by.

Diwali or diVAHli both work, as it’s really DeepAVali and Diwali is the shortening.

One thing that is definitely wrong is Namast. You need the ending!

Namaste is from Namaskar in Sanskrit. It means “salutations to you”, I think would be the best translation.

Interestingly I was just in Gurudwara this weekend - Sikh house of worship - and as I was saying “Sat Sri Akal” to everyone and hearing “Wahe guruji ki khalsa, wahe guru ji ki fateh”, I was thinking - hey, the Sikhs fold their hands in the same way too. (I am not Sikh, but I am Punjabi. Sikhs are Punjabi.)

I’m pretty sure I heard them as in the part above that I bolded. But it’s been awhile since I was in Nepal. Or maybe Indians pronounce it in a different manner in Hindi, dunno.

I recall the TV series Lost. The character Dr. Chang, the researcher who appeared on the instructional videos that they found. Wouldn’t he always say “Namaste” at the beginning of each video? Or wasn’t the program he was involved in called “The Namaste Project”? Whichever, the way he said it sounded like how we’ve heard it.

I’m sure we’ve never ever heard it anywhere without the ending, the third syllable, and that would sound very bizarre to hear it like that. Go to Nepal or India, and I’ll wager they won’t know what the hell you’re trying to say.

That folding your hands with a slight bow thing–is it, as I heard, as much a blessing as it is a greeting? Because, heathen though I may be, I like it and look forward to when it catches on here. A guy can’t get or give too many blessings.

Speaking for Thailand, in Thai it is called a wai (same sound as in Waikiki) and a sign of respect. The higher up you position your hands, the more respect you are showing. For example, if you wai the king, they’d be all the way up on your forehead, but if you were to position them that way for anyone else, it would be assumed you were mocking them (or that you were an ignorant foreigner). Fingertips about, oh, tip-of-the-nose level for most people is good enough.

Since he didn’t answer this, I’ll tell you what I’m pretty sure he means: the vowel in bra. AH is the semi-standard way of indicating that. The schwa is usually written UH.

Any chance either of you’d have a good cite for this? When someone busts out the mystical hokum definition, it makes me twitch just a little, and I’d like to be able to say, “Well, actually…” because, hey, I’m a jerk sometimes. :smiley: Googling “meaning of namaste” just got me lots of pages of the mystical hokum. I suppose the Online Etymology Dictionary’s entry is perhaps as good as I’ll get, but it’d be nice to have something a bit more forceful.

Why do you doubt the Online Etymology Dictionary? At any rate, other dictionaries agree with the etymology as decomposing into “namas” meaning “bowing” and “te” meaning “to you”. There’s nothing mystical or spiritual about it; etymologically, it’s just the same as saying, in English, “I bow to you”.

That having been said, like I also indicated, this is just etymology, not the true meaning. The meaning of the word is just as a stock greeting or farewell. It’s the word people say politely for “hello” and “goodbye” (again, see the linked dictionary entry).

It’s listed as “hello” and “goodbye,” and nothing else, in my hard-copy Nepali Phrasebook that I used in country.

I feel this is akin to people saying Thais always call each other Little or Big Brother or Sister. You call your elder siblings Phi and your younger siblings Nong, that is true. And that’s extended to calling somewhat older people Phi and younger people Nong in general. But to translate the latter case, calling strangers Big Brother or Little Sister, is just too much of a cutesy stretch when you see it being done in practice.