Horseman Stan

File under “things I already ought to know”:

  • “Afghan” comes from a Sanskrit term meaning “horseman”.
  • Most Iranian languages seem to say some varient of “(h)asp”, the inclusion of /h/ being a quite rare and conservative form, preserved today in Kurmancî Kurdish speech (spelt “hesp”, pronounced /hæsp/), while almost all other Indo-Iranian languages have dropped the “h”. These words go back to the PIE form *hekwos, also the source of the Latinate “equine”. Wikipedia asserts that the proto-Indo-Iranian form had no /h/, but then how do they explain the Kurdish form, hm?
  • In fact, I can’t find any reflex of this particular PIE root in any Indo-European language other than Kurdish which has an “h” at the beginning… What could be the source of this madness?