March 01, 2013


Out of the blue, the question occurs to me whether there can be an etymological link between “to laugh” (dgod pa) and “to be happy/glad/pleased” (dga’ ba). Some of us might think that it is only too logical, whereas others might think it is absolutely nonsensical. Whichever direction we take, we will no longer be culpable for not having asked this question or considered this possibility.


  1. Well, D, I wonder what you make of this bona fide Zhangzhung word Ha-pi?

    HA PI (nyams dga’ ba’i) in a happy mood. OZZ 48, with alternative spellings he pi, has pi. The pi element might be a genitive case suffix.
    HA PI RTSAL (dga’ ba’i tshal) happy grove. Sgra 135. See hi pa, ha si. This equiv. is found in Mdzod, but in Zhu is spelled like this: has pi rtsal.

    It, too, mean happy! Let's by all means not be found culpable for non-consideration of the not entirely nonsensical.

    I think the laughing words are related to the wildness (rgod). Do vultures ever laugh?

    Ha ha! Gotcha!


  2. Dear D,

    This Zhang-zhung language seems to be full of mysteries, huh! Amazing! But would you then say that striking Zhang-zhung “ha pi” or “ha si” and English “happy” are historical-linguistically related? Or, it is a pure case of co-incidence? Or, could “ha si” be a loan-word from (or rather related with) Sanskrit “hasa” (MW, s.v. “mirth” or “ laughter,” cf. hāsin)? Could “pi” be a misreading of the grapheme “si” (because of the graphic similarity of pa and sa in certain Tibetan writings)?

    Well, as for rgod, one would say we are going too far! But, but! Maybe there is something in it. May be rgod (cp. also dgod) has rather something to do with “elevation” and hence with “elation.” To be noted is that “elate” is said to be from Latin elat “raised.” Maybe, bya rgod is a “bird that soars (or elevates itself).” Haha! And besides, I feel that rgod is an antonym of rgud, and thus while the former has something to do with “soar” or “ascend,” the latter has to do with “sink” or “descend.” The meaning of “wildness” (as in rta rgod, mi rgod, and so on) maybe secondary developments.

    But my speculations are getting ever wilder. So I pause here with two lines from Mi-pham:

    tshig la ’chal na tshig mtha’ yas ||
    rnam rtog ma zad bar du ’phel ||

    Take care,



  3. DearD,
    Clearly you have been contemplating the air element. Elevation, elation, wild laughter and high spirits! Pass them all around!
    (and yes, that pi and si could surely be switched one way or the other, and probably are)