May 03, 2012

རལ་གྲི། རལ་གྱི། སྤུ་གྲི།

In rDzong-kha, knife or dagger is called gyi. In Tibetan it is gri. But interestingly archaic Tibetan materials allude to ral gyi. See, for instance, Go-shul, gNa’ rtsom (p. 128, n. 10).

And what about the etymology of ral gri “sword”? (By the way, in rDong-kha, one would not say ral gyi  but it has to be ral gri.) Apparently a “knife” (gri) [for] tearing/slicing [something/someone] apart (ral).”

The etymology of spu gri “razor” is self-explanatory; a “knife [for shaving] hair.”

We may also speculate with the etymologies of other kinds of knives.



  1. Maybe ral-gri is for cutting off curls, with spu-gri being for cutting off body hair?

  2. Aha, you mean ral in ral gri should be taken to be ral pa. It could be.

  3. In Amdo Tibetan it is also _gyi_, and many other words share the same pattern, just as in Dzongkha.