Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

sounds very much like sanskrit simha

that could be the origin? —This unsigned comment was added by (talk) at 06:08, 26 July 2011.

Yes, the resemblance is striking (but the m, actually , in the transcription of Sanskrit is misleading: it's really a [ŋ], or a mere nasalisation). But it could only be a borrowing from Sanskrit (or some other language of India?) if the apparent Bantu cognates are to be discounted (if they are themselves borrowings from Swahili). That Swahili has borrowings from Indic languages is at least conceivable, as there were contacts with India, but these are certainly no older than about 1000 years. On the other hand, why should a language native to East Africa borrow a word for "lion"? In principle, it is equally possible, perhaps even more likely, that Sanskrit borrowed siṁha, which has no good etymology, from an African language (specifically a Bantu language, since simba does seem to have ancient roots in Bantu – unless the apparent cognates in other Bantu languages are really borrowings and therefore misleading); the only big problem is that other evidence for ancient contact between India and Africa is lacking. Mayrhofer in his etymological dictionary of Old Indo-Aryan does mention simba, but calls the resemblance apparently fortuitous. See also w:Talk:Swahili language#Swahili and Sanskrit. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:00, 22 August 2012 (UTC)