After the fragmentation of Sanskrit, one of the innovative features that developed across the Indo-Aryan language family are the "pleonastic" suffixes, including (but not limited to) -kk-, -ḍ-, -r-, -l(l)-, and nominal diminutives -ka- (m.) and -ikā- (f.). Pleonastic means serving no semantic purpose; basically, the consensus has been that these suffixes merely served as phonological extensions to distinguish words after the collapse of many phonotactic distinctions from Sanskrit to Middle Indo-Aryan. But, it is worth re-examining that (on the surface, reasonable) claim. Even if these suffixes were meaningless at first, it is probable that they ended up serving some purpose by the chance nature of which lexemes got which specific suffix.

Specifically, I decided to look at the distribution of the -kk- extension in New Indo-Aryan languages. It seems to follow a pattern of creating denominal verbs from onomatopoeic nouns, which show up a bit in later Sanskrit and very commonly in MIA and afterwards. I am not the first to make this observation; that would be Emeneau (1969)1. I just want to qualify this observation with some more detailed analysis, specifically noting cases where non-onomatopoeic stems get this suffix.

This is in-progress.


Movement-related verbs:

  • aṭaknā "to be stopped"
  • ucaknā "to be lifted up; jump up"
  • ujʰaknā "to raise oneself up"
  • uṛʰaknā "to overturn, tilt"
  • kacaknā "to be jerked, sprained"
  • kudaknā "to leap up, jump" : kūdnā ← Skt. kūrdati
  • kʰisaknā "to move away, slip away" : kʰasaknā
  • cipaknā "to stick, adhere" : capaknā
  • cubhaknā "to plunge, duck" : cubhnā
  • cʰaṭaknā "to slip from the grasp"
  • cʰapaknā "to be splashed"
  • cʰalaknā "to be spilt, splashed; overflow"
  • cʰiṭaknā "to be scattered, sprinkled, diffused"


  • karaknā "to pain"
  • kasaknā "to ache, pain naggingly"
  • gaṭaknā "to gulp down (v.t.)" : guṭaknā
  • gapaknā "to gulp down (v.t.)"
  • gamaknā "to be fragrant"
  • gahaknā "to feel a strong desire"
  • gʰuṭaknā "to gulp down (v.t.)" : gʰaṭaknā
  • gʰuṛaknā "to frighten, scold (v.t.)" ← Skt. ghurati
  • canaknā "to burst, crack; be irritable"
  • cabaknā "to throb or shoot with pain"
  • casaknā "to shoot with pain, throb"
  • ciraknā "to pass excreta"
  • camaknā "to shine, sparkle; prosper; be enraged, strongly emotional"
  • cilaknā "to glitter, sparkle; shoot with pain"
  • cucuknā "to dry up, be parched, wither"
  • cauṁknā "to be startled"
  • cʰaknā "to be satiated, satisfied"
  • cʰaknā "to be astonished"

Verbs probably derived from onomatopoeia:

  • ubaknā "to vomit"
  • oknā "to vomit"
  • kaṛaknā "to crackle"
  • kilaknā "to shout in delight" : kilkārnā, killānā, kilkilānā
  • kīknā "to scream"
  • kuṛaknā "to cackle, cluck; to munch (v.t.)"
  • kuhuknā "to cry (a bird)"
  • kūknā "to utter a shrill cry (e.g. a cuckoo)" ← Pkt. kukkaï
  • kʰaṭaknā "to sound, rattle"
  • kʰaṛaknā "to sound, rattle"
  • kʰanaknā "to jingle"
  • kʰuṭaknā "to peck, break a shell, nibble (v.t.)"
  • guṭaknā "to coo (a dove)"
  • caṭaknā "to make a snap or crackling sound; break with a crack, burst" : ciṭaknā
  • cahaknā "to warble, sing (birds)"
  • cuṭaknā "to nip, pinch, break, snap (fingers)" : cuṭkī "pinch; snapping"

  1. Emeneau, Murray B. “Onomatopoetics in the Indian linguistic area.” Language (1969): 274-299. ↩︎