March 10, 2012


byol song:

We know that byol song is synonymous with dud ’gro “animals.” But what about its etymology? Possibly byol (future, perfect, and imperative) is to be understood in the sense of “to flee, avoid contact, shy away from” and song (perfect and imperative) “go.” Perhaps byol song etymologically means sentient beings “who (normally) go about avoiding contact (with human beings)”?


  1. You don't imagine this could be a confection meant to give an etymology for the Sanskrit word the lotsawas were translating, do you? (I note it isn't found in the Mahâvyutpatti.) I mean tiryañc is usually understood to mean the beings who move about in a horizontal position (as distinguished from us upright walkers... you know, us chickens). But it could also mean those beings that travel obliquely (in relation to the paths humans follows), and with a related sense of going about surreptitiously, trying to avoid the humans. I guess we're on the same page, in any case.

  2. Dear Dan,

    Thanks! In fact I do imagine this could be a confection. But apparently dud ’gro seems to have replaced byol song. Negi’s dictionary, however, does record some instances of tiryak being rendered as byol song. I think we can reconcile these two renderings insofar as an animal is either “one that goes about creeping so as to avoid being noticed or confined” or “one that moves on its hinds.” In both cases, the idea of Sanskrit tiryak meaning “across, obliquely, transversely, horizontally, sideways” have been taken into account, but less so in the case of byol song. This may also be the reason why dud ’gro came to be accepted as a standard rendering.