Friday, October 12, 2012

The Unity of Words for Silence in Hindi and Chinese -- Maun, Moyan and Mo Yan

हिन्दी में यह आलेख पढ़ें:  मौन, मोयान और मो यान -- हिन्दी और चीनी में एक अर्थ और ध्वनि वाले दो शब्द

Chinese author Mr Mo Yan has won the Nobel prize for literature 2012. His real name is Guan Moye but he writes under the pseudonym Mo Yan which means 'silence' in Chinese. Mo Yan is the second person living in China to win a Nobel Prize. The human rights activist Mr Liu Xiabo was the first. However, the government-controlled Chinese media never disclosed the news of Xiabo's prize to the Chinese public. Xiabo continues to be in jail. When the news came for a Nobel for Mo Yan, a Chinese commentator wrote on the Internet, “The first one was moyan [silent]. The second was still Mo Yan!”

Is it simply a coincidence that the Chinese word for silence ‘moyan’ sounds similar to the Sanskrit word 'maun' मौन having the same meaning? 

The Sanskrit word 'maun' मौन is considered to be related to the Sanskrit words ‘man' मन (pronounced as mun)  =  mind, thought, instinct; and muni मुनि =  anyone who is moved by inward impulse, or a hermit who has taken the vow of silence. Thus, 'maun' मौन implies conscious decision to observe silence. Another Sanskrit word 'mook' मूक (=dumb) implies pathological inability to speak. Similar sounding words mokuhi 黙秘 (Japanese) and chimmuk 침묵 (Korean) also mean silence.

Shall we say now, Hindi-Chini-Japani-Korean bhai-bhai or behan-behan! (Hindi, Chinese, Japanese and Korean are brothers or sisters!) 

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