Tatsama (Sanskrit: तत्सम, IPA: [tətsəmə]) are Sanskrit loanwords in modern Indic languages like Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati or Sinhala. They belong to a higher and more erudite register than common words. That register can be compared to the use of words of Greek origin in English (e.g. hubris).
Tatsama in Bengali
The origin of tatsama (tôtshôm) in Bengali is traced to tenth century poets, who felt that the colloquial language was not suitable for their expressive needs. Another wave of tatsama entered then Bangla language by Sanskrit scholars teaching at Fort William College in Calcutta at the beginning of the 19th century. The textbooks used in these courses paved the way for more tatsama words becoming common usage.
Literate Bengali contains about 70% tatsama as of today, whereas the colloquial language contains about 40%. The writers Ramram Basu, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Mrityunjay Vidyalankar and Michael Madhusudan Dutt and Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay brought a large amount of tatsama words into Bengali. This led some critics to accuse them of Sanskritisation of the language.
Tatsama words in Bengali which retain their Sanskrit pronunciation are called samochcharita, while those with a differing pronunciation are called asamochcharita.
Examples of samochcharita
Examples of asamochcharita
Tatsama in Sinhala
The way the tatsama entered the Sinhala language is comparable to what we find in Bangla: they are scholarly borrowings of Sanskrit or Pali terms. Tatsama in Sinhala can be identified by their ending exclusively in -ya or -va, whereas native Sinhala words tend to show a greater array of endings. Many scientific concepts make use of tatsama, for instance grahaņaya 'eclipse', but they are also found for more everyday concepts.