November 09, 2014


What I am really concerned or worried about nowadays is zu versagen. The German verb versagen is very interesting. It sounds like sagen (“to say”) but the prefix ver often expresses something unpleasant and undesirable. But never mind. My issue is not really the Geschichte und Gegenwart of the verb versagen. It means many things but among them “to fail at something,” “to fail to do/work/act” (when you are supposed/expected to do for whatever reason). The logical subject of versagen can be a man or machine. It also means “to mess up” or “to screw up.” But what would be the Tibetan verb that expresses precisely that? Never before have I been so confident about anything but this time I am confident that the Tibetan verb that expresses versagen exactly is ’thus shor ba. This is, however, not recorded in Jäschke 1881. But what about its etymology? I think the meaning of shor ba is clear. It is a heteronomous verb (Geschehensverb = verb of happening) and means something like “to lose (something/someone),” that is, to lose, for example, a pin because it has slipped through one’s fingers. But what about ’thus? It, by itself, seems to be a heteronomous verb meaning “to suffice” (construed with an instrumental). See the Tshig mdzod chen mo (s.v. ’thus pa 2): “Food and clothing of that [meager] quality would suffice” (lto gos bzang ngan de tsam gyis ’thus). So it seems that ’thus shor ba means something like “to fail do the bare sufficient” (i.e. “to fail to do the bare minimum”). But could ’thus be a cognate of ’thud (“to connect so as to extend”)? Could ’thus be a means of connecting and continuing something, say, like a rope? Could ’thus shor thus mean something like “to lose” (that crucial rope) with which something can be connected and continued?

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