May 27, 2015


Has anyone thought of what gyal in ya gyal is supposed to mean? Can we perhaps say that the only instance of the occurrence of gyal is in ya gyal? I think we can! Can ya gyal and yal ga be etymologically connected?


  1. Hi D, How are you? Long time no sea. Here's an idea: gyal could be identical to gral. As crazy as this may seem, the interchange between subscript 'r' and subscript 'y' is a very common one in the Dunhuang documents. Not only that, I see in the Btsan-lha dictionary an entry for ya-ba, which is defined by ya-gyal. If there is a word ya-ba that has the same meaning of ya-gyal, I'm thinking that what we have here is a synonym compound, so that gyal woud have the same or similar meaning. Gral doesn't *exactly* mean one of a set, or a counterpart, but gral does mean a kind of standing in line or a ranking of things. They are not such distant concepts, are they? Perhaps close enough to form a synonym compound?

  2. It doesn't seem to support my theory so much, but I checked OTDO and after searching found that the word for 'sword' is always spelled ral-gyi, and never ral-gri. At the same time there are a whole lot of occurrences of the syllable gral, and no occurrence at all of the syllable gyal. Perhaps needless to say there is neither a ya-gyal nor a ya-gral to be found there. So I don't know. I'm still thinking about it. If even the smallest speculative light turns on I'll let you know.

  3. Dear Dan, these comments of yours give me some food for thought. (a) Supposing gyal = gral (as you suggest), ya gyal should mean something like “one line/section [that forms a part of the whole]” (ya gral), that is, taking ya to mean as in cha (“pair”) and ya (“one of the two components of a pair”). Such an interpretation would be in conform with the standard meaning of ya gyal. (b) The old orthography ral gyi seems to throw some light on Tibetan phonetics. I have noticed that A-mdo dialect would often have a y-subscript instead of a r-subscript. This is even more so true in rDzong-kha, so much so that according to the rDzong kha ’grel bshad, a manual for transforming Chos-skad into rDzong-kha, which, however, seems inaccessible nowadays, one can mechanically replace r-subscripts with y-subscripts (e.g. ’gro becomes ’gyo). Dorji