February 5, 2008

Etymologist 13: Thaksin and Dexter

I found another fun connection today. If you've read my post about the Indic names of the compass directions, you will remember that the four major compass points are บูรพา /burapha/ 'east', ปัจฉิม /patchim/ 'west', อุดร /udɔɔn/ 'north', and ทักษิณ /thaksin/ 'south'. Another meaning for these four words is (in the same order) 'front', 'back', 'left' and 'right'.

The word ทักษิณ comes from the Sanskrit daksinah 'on the right hand, southern, skillful.' What I learned today that I'd never known before was that dexter also means 'on the right hand, skillful' (its etymological opposite is sinister). After the initial spark of intuition, some quick checking shows that these are indeed etymological cousins, both descended from the Proto-Indo-European root *dek-.

Thaksin and Dexter are both used as names in different countries. And some would have you believe that that Thaksin and this Dexter have more in common than just the origin of their names. I smell a conspiracy theory...

1 comment:

  1. Thaksin and Dextor has one thing in common : they have no guilt feeling at all.

    Dextor is aware of this and used it in a "constructive" way. Thaksin,however,is not and has been using this "no-guilt feeling" quality in accumulating his wealth and power.

    You will understand Thaksin more clearly if you read the Ennuagram type 3 who is in the low level of development. (Personlity type by Don Richard Riso.