FB Discussion- Sanskrit Language: The Most Scientific, Ancient, Spiritual
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Sajith Unni: comments ?
Sanskrit Language: The Most Scientific, Ancient, Spiritual


Diego Gonzalez Diaz Isn`t tamil an older languague?
Friday at 11:23pm · Like · 8 people
Rakshi --- http://localparty.tumblr.c?om/post/6032648949
Mind your language, not mine
localparty.tumblr.com
Mind your language, not mine Dear English Pundit, As I am suffering from ‘horrib...See More
Friday at 11:29pm · Like · 4 people ·
Omar Jhoomer He lost me at "India is the West".
Saturday at 3:33am · Like
Arjun Ishwar ?"Universal ethics in the old testament, and much deeper in the Upanishads" Hahahahahahahahaha
Saturday at 4:39am · Like · 6 people
karatalaamalaka This video is trash, but there is real basis for the "scientific" nature of the Sanskrit language- Panini's grammar and its structure, in a linguistic sense, is laudable for its competence and is ahead of its time for ~100 BCE. See for example the works of Stanford linguist Paul Kiparsky.

http://www.stanford.edu/~k?iparsky/Paper...rabad.p?df
Saturday at 5:15am · Like
Ganesh Veluswami ?2 Claims here:
# Most scientific - Yes, if you allow for extensive RE-INTERPRETATION of scriptures in the light of newer knowledge (I'm sure every other work can be made to fit this claim)
# Most ancient - Most certainly not! There are several languages much more ancient than Sanskrit. Even in India. Also, Sanskrit by definition means "Refined" meaning it was rwdjnedfeom an already existing language- PRAKRIT (native)

And on a side note, for all the pseudonationalistic Sanskrit chest thumpers, It's most probably not even Indian!
In all Indian languages, it's SUBJECT - OBJECT - VERB [Mr.X Saanp ko Dekha, Mr.X Paambai Paarthaar] whereas in Sanskrit (as in European languages like English) it's SUBJECT- VERB- OBJECT [Mr.X Saw a Snake]. The sentence syntax in Sanskrit is alien to native Indian languages. It merely has extensively influenced the vocabulary of all native Indian languages, except Tamil.
P.S.: I am no expert :-) I may be wrong.
Saturday at 7:53am via Facebook Mobile · Unlike · 5 people
Sajith Unni ?Rakshi --- LMAO !! we are like this only. ok? Big Grin
Saturday at 8:09am · Like
karatalaamalaka ?Ganesh There is a slight misunderstanding in your interpretation of what Sanskrit is. Indeed, Prakrit, Bengali, Gujrati, or their ancestor languages were what was spoken by the common people. Sanskrit, as laid down in Panini's work was most likely like how Senthamizh is to Tamizh- a codification/formalization? of the common man's dialect/language into a language that is suitable for literature, and political, and religious transactions. It is a stretch to claim that Sanskrit has no influence on modern Thamizh. It is also highly dubious to claim that *modern* Thamizh is the oldest language. Again, what happened was nothing dramatic- there were proto-Dravidian languages and dialects, which, over the course of the last three thousand years diverged into modern Thamizh, KannaDa, Telugu, TuLu, ToDa, and later, Malayalam. If any of Dravidian heritage can lay claim to speaking ancient/oldest languages, it should be the likes of the isolated ToDa tribes of Karnataka-TN forests or the Gonda tribes of Jharkhand are more entitled to the claim of having ancient languages.
Saturday at 8:13am · Like · 2 people
karatalaamalaka ?*Chattisgarh not Jarkhand
Saturday at 8:14am · Like
Arvind Iyer Well, on the issue of N-N-V (noun-noun-verb) or N-V-N (noun-verb-noun) orderings, one of the first things one notices about Sanskrit is its leniency of this tight syntactic requirement and acceptability of more than one order.

I can safely write ?????? ?????? ?????? |(A sentence was written by Ganesh) or ?????? ?????? ?????? | (By Ganesh, the sentence was written) or ?????? ?????? ?????? | (Written the sentence was by Ganesh) without a Sanskritist frowning upon my license here, even though some orderings in English are definitely not standard.

Noting that there is more of a preponderance of poetry than prose in Sanskrit, this freedom of orderings really gives more leeway to a writer of metrical verse. That, according to Sanskrit admirers is an unmixed blessing, but in other contexts, say for someone constructing sentence parsers or machine translators, such uncertainty about ordering can be an added overhead! Case declensions, the absence of articles as well as elision rules are also features which seem to give more poets more room and don't seem to be features particularly designed with engineers in mind.

Just for completeness, I can cite an example from the literature, here the Bhagavad Gita of N-V-N and V-N-N in the same sentence as it were. Chp 3, Verse 38 starts with '????? ???????? ?????' (By smoke is covered fire i.e. N-V-N or Subject-Verb-Object) and then says '(????????) ????? ???? ' (Covered the mirror is by dust i.e. V-N-N or Verb-Object-Subject). The verse can be read here: http://bhagavad-gita.org/G?ita/verse-03-38.html

Once again, I am anything but an expert myself. Sanskrit students like Murthy Avn or Prabhakar Kamath could perhaps weigh in.

/end digression :-)
Saturday at 9:03am · Like · 1 person
karatalaamalaka ?Arvind There is another reason to the preponderance of poetry in classical languages- the absence of writing. The presence of prosody (chandas ????), alankara, are aids to memorization. Committing to memory was the only way to memorize and transmit information for a major part of human history.
Saturday at 9:14am · Like · 3 people
karatalaamalaka ?*store, not memorize
Saturday at 9:15am · Like
Vinayak Joshi ?`Eternal sound from which universe is expressed.'
WTF is that?
Saturday at 12:27pm · Like · 3 people
Arjun Ishwar ?^Ohmmmm
Saturday at 12:27pm · Like
Vinayak Joshi How & why?
Saturday at 12:28pm · Like
Arjun Ishwar http://nirmukta.com/2010/0?5/22/the-art-...-program?/
The Art Of Pseudoscience (Featuring The Gayatri Mantra)- A Five Step Program | Nirmukta
nirmukta.com
A holy-five-step-program to make anything sound true. It is guaranteed to bring ...See More
Saturday at 12:38pm · Like · 1 person ·
Vinayak Joshi LOL!Thanks.
Saturday at 12:50pm · Like · 1 person
Ganesh Veluswami ?2 Clarifications:
# I never claimed that Tamizh is the oldest language. But I did claim that Sanskrit is NOT the oldest language.
Sanskrit was JUST a liturgical language, nothing more. NEVER a mother tongue to ANYBODY ANYTIME! The high priests, kings, courtiers, erudite people, etc. who wanted to stand out from the rest and keep the common masses at a distance were the only ones who indulged in Sanskrit for obvious reasons.
Surely Sumerian, Akadian, etc are much much older than any of these.

# Also, I never claimed that Tamizh vocabulary is not influenced by Sanskrit. It is... But the extent is little. And if the sanskritization is cleansed all other languages become grossly distorted, but not so Tamizh. Tamizhonly gets enriched when the blotches of Sanskrit influences are removed.

Hope, I've clarified :-)
Saturday at 2:04pm via Facebook Mobile · Like · 1 person
Raj Subramanian I disagree with your speculation about Sanskrit not being Indian. Yes it has different linguistic structure comparing Tamil but that is not a reason to consider it foreign. As karatalaamalaka pointed out, if we are going to call something an indigenous language it is probably only the tribal groups' language such as baduga, thoda, jarawa, nicobari etc. If Sanskrit is foreign, you may have to consider other north Indian languages (including the so called national language of India- Hindi) as foreign. You may be touching a raw nerve there. Tamil has influence of Sanskrit ( to a lesser extent comparing other languages)- equally Sanskrit also has Tamil influence. Sanskrit influenced other languages of India at the same it was also influenced by the other languages. It was a two way process. Don’t forget Tamil has evolved over the past 2000+ years!. The Brhami script bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Vatta Ezhuthu that is used currently in Tamilnadu and Srilanka. We find a large number of scientific and philosophical literature in Sanskrit (comparing to other Indian languages- not English) because of the fact that scholars all choose to publish their work in Sanskrit in those days because of its larger reach in India. Just like the way an overwhelming majority of scientific literature is found in English than in any other language. I disagree with the idea propagated by some that portrays Sanskrit as a north Indian language. It doesn't do any justice to the number of philosophers and astronomers from Tamilnadu and Kerala who contributed. We may not know truly where it originated. It might have been a language belonging to a sect in Karnataka that just got popular! 2000 years from now without any historic records, you may be surprised to find that English originated in a tiny island off the cost of Europe(which might well be submerged by then due to global warming!). The unfortunate irony is that Sanskrit was hijacked by Brahmins and we are hoodwinked to consider Sanskrit as a Brahminical language. Rather than defending the heritage of Sanskrit as a language of all Indians, we are attributing the brahmincal hypocracy to a language. I also disagree with the idea of considering all philosophers and scientist who published their work in Sanskrit to be upper caste Indians. That again is a myth propagated by the priesthood community. But let us not loose sight of the fact that Sanskrit is just a language. It is not God's words or divine. It is just a language like any other freaking language- But antique , poetic and just beautiful.
Saturday at 6:03pm · Like · 5 people
Raj Subramanian Just as a clarificaiton- when I say scientific, I am talking in the context of ancient India. Ofcourse if you compare those with the hindsight of the knoweldge of sicence in the past 200 years, some or large number of the ideas might appear primitive. Also when I say sanskrit is antique, potetic and buetiful it doesn't mean Tamil is not. Tamil as a language is equally antique ( if not older than Sanskrit),poetic and bueatiful. I also like to clarify that Hindi is NOT the national language of India. It is again a myth.
Saturday at 6:11pm · Like · 2 people
Ganesh Veluswami ?|| Speculation about Sanskrit not being Indian. || As I said, it was just a SPECULATION for a casual musing, nothing more. Sanskrit & Zend Avastan were sister languages on either side of the border of the erstwhile India & Iran (Check out Hinduism & Zoaratrianism for some background)

|| North Indian languages (including the so called national language of India- Hindi) as foreign. || North Indian languages or South Indian languages, I make no distinctions. And thanks for clarifying later that HINDI IS NOT THE NATIONAL LANGUAGE OF INDIA. I absolutely loathe the mindless fanatics who keep parroting that Hindi is the national language of India.
|| It was a two way process. || Absolutely. It is but natural. It would only have been surprising had it not been.
|| The Brhami script bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Vatta Ezhuthu. || Yes. But, Tamil had a Brahmi script before the Vatta Ezhuthu was introduced. And the Tamil Brahmi was distinct from the usual Brahmi that was used in the rest of India! And there are instances of Tamil Brahmi inscriptions on pottery, etc dating back to 1000 BCE & 800 BCE- A time when it was believed that there was no written script in India. Until then, it was erroneously believed that King Ashoka had introduced the system of writing in India using in Brahmi the Brahmi script. And there are reasons to suggest that Tamil Brajmi predates Ashokan Brahmi.
|| We find a large number of scientific and philosophical literature in Sanskrit (comparing to other Indian languages- not English) because of the fact that scholars all choose to publish their work in Sanskrit in those days. || As explained, it was for obvious reasons. Sanskrit was the LITURGICAL tool. Just like how most of the scientific work these days are preferred to be published in English. That’s the purpose of a Liturgical language.
|| Sanskrit as a north Indian language……… philosophers and astronomers from Tamilnadu and Kerala who contributed…. || Sanskrit is NOT a North Indian language. It was being used all over India. It was codified to form some kind of Esperanto for official, scientific, sacred & literary works in those days. About contributions from Tamil Nadu & Kerala (which wasot different from Tamil Nadu in those days) there have been plenty. This practice of using the Devanagari script for Sanskrit was just an arbitrary one fixed by the Britishers. Devanagari is NOT the original script of Sanskrit. There were tons of Sanskrit works from Tamil Nadu & the south written in Grantham script. Just because the Devanagari script was arbitrarily chosen to write Sanskrit & Hindi, people somehow feel misplaced ideas about the two. Sanskrit can equally well be written in Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Gujarati, Bengali, etc scripts. Note that Tamil script cannot write Sanskrit completely, and neither can the Sanskrit script write Tamil completely!
On a side note, there were several pieces of literature written in combination of Tamil & Sanskrit called ManiPravalam which were considered to be the ultimate works. A combination of “Mani” & “Pavazham”! Just goes to show the harmony & mutual respect for all languages at that time.

|| A language belonging to a sect in Karnataka that just got popular! || Karnataka??!!! I dunno where you got that info from!!! Is it because you have fallen for that myth being spread by some Hindutva vaadis that there is a town in Karnataka that allegedly still speaks in Sanskrit??!!! Please read up about it. That is just an attempt by some people with interests in glorifying the language that they feel is the (only) pride of India. As I had pointed out, Sanskrit was NEVER the spoken language anywhere for casual conversations, NEVER the mother tongue for ANYONE ANYTIME! It was just a liturgical language.

|| Rather than defending the heritage of Sanskrit as a language of all Indians, we are attributing the brahmincal hypocracy to a language. || Sanskrit was a language of all Indians. True. Attributing to the Brahmins. Hmmm, that’s how the Brahmins themselves wanted. They wanted to maintain it that way… To maintain their supremacy & high pedestal. The common masses speaking in the local vernaculars were never allowed to read & understand Sanskrit. Anyway…

|| But let us not loose sight of the fact that Sanskrit is just a language. It is not God's words or divine. It is just a language like any other freaking language- But antique , poetic and just beautiful. || I agree. Not only that, EVERY INDIAN LANGUAGE IS ATREASURE TO CHERISH & PRESERVE. Not just Sanskrit. No one language is superior or inferior to any other.

P.S.: I am no expert. I am just sharing my musings & whatever little I know. :-)
Yesterday at 8:05am · Like · 2 people
Ganesh Veluswami Perhaps, Kit Kittappa can contribute here. Kit, you there? :-)
Yesterday at 8:05am · Like
Arvind Iyer Speaking of cherishing India's mindblogging diverse linguistic heritage and learning all we can from it, one useful resource for language enthusiasts is AIR's daily uploads of the news in 16 different languages! http://www.newsonair.com/n?sd_schedule.asp
NEWS ON AIR : News On AIR brings the Latest & Top Breaking News on Politics,news on world cup 2011,.
http://www.newsonair.com
Yesterday at 8:08am · Like ·
Arjun Ishwar Have a break, have a Kit Kittappa
Yesterday at 8:09am · Like · 1 person
Arvind Iyer ?*mind-boggling not mind-blogging! What's Web 2.0 doing to our use of language!
Yesterday at 8:10am · Like
karatalaamalaka ?Ganesh Yes sir, Tamil is the oldest and greatest language ever in the entire universe. I give up.
Yesterday at 8:11am · Like
Ganesh Veluswami ?^ I never said that! That is a strawman that you are creating.

All I said was that Sanskrit is not the oldest & greatest language ever in the universe. (Unlike the the usual jingoistic claim!)

Please take time to read and comprehend before rushing to conclusions. Thank you.
Yesterday at 8:15am · Like · 1 person
karatalaamalaka ?Ganesh I am sorry, but I sensed a bias in your comment towards a theory that Tamil is a more ancient, and dominant culture than others- given that you suggest Kerala and Tamil Nadu were not too different in the past. Also, Wiki tells us that Iravatham Mahadevan believes it is likely that Tamil Brahmi was invented to the South India due to the "southern spread of Jainism and Buddhism." This doesn't correspond to the 8-10th BCE timeline you suggest.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wi?ki/Tamil-Brahmi
Yesterday at 8:24am · Like
Ganesh Veluswami I ain't no Tamil zealot jingoistic about trashing every other language (especially Sanskrit) All I want to do is share whatever little I know.
Please check out Adichanallur pottery inscriptions.
Yesterday at 8:27am · Like · 1 person
Ganesh Veluswami It's getting really late for work now. Gotta go to the hospital (If you are a doc, then there are No sundays, no public holidays!) Will continue... :-)
Yesterday at 8:30am · Like
karatalaamalaka ?Ganesh Thanks for the clarification. smile I tend to be a little touchy about that subject.
Yesterday at 8:31am · Like
Ganesh Veluswami Nothing wrong sir. Exchange of ideas leads to better understanding of the subject by all those involved in the discussion. Only thing, emotions should not rule (I mean ruin) the discussion. :-)
Yesterday at 8:33am · Like
Ganesh Veluswami Perhaps, this one line will reveal what I have in Mind: "EVERY INDIAN LANGUAGE IS A TREASURE TO CHERISH & PRESERVE. Not just Sanskrit. No one language is superior or inferior to any other."
Yesterday at 8:34am · Like · 2 people
Ganesh Veluswami And not just every INDIAN language... It must be every language.
Yesterday at 8:35am · Like · 2 people
Pratibha Nair Did he actually say India is the West and China is the East? LOL

Proponents of the superiority of any language use the same cliches: how their language is more precise, more amenable to evolution, more scientific, etc. I've heard exactly the same arguments for Arabic.
Yesterday at 9:55am · Unlike · 7 people
Ganesh Veluswami ?^ Exactly! Everybody wants to get associated with Science. Because, being considered Scientific brings automatic respect and credibility that is otherwise unavailable to these folks without rigorous standards/ process of scientific method.. :-)
Yesterday at 11:17am via Facebook Mobile · Unlike · 3 people
Vinayak Joshi ?Ganesh Veluswami,that Sanskrit was not the monopoly of Devnagari script but was written in a host of Indian languages was a revelation to me.Thanks for that.
However if Sanskrit was not sole preserve of Devnagari,how could possibly Brahmins would have hijacked it to their benefit alone,is something I cannot comprehend.If Sanskrit was available to common folk in their respective languages,was it not that much more difficult for Brahmins to use it as a tool of exploitation?In a Devnagari alone scenario,keeping others away from the knowledge of the time available in Sanskrit would have been much easier for Brahmins.
Please take note that I am not contradicting you,just curious to know.
Of course,modes & methods available to Brahmins for exploitation must have been myriad..
Yesterday at 2:07pm · Like
Ajita Kamal Some things to be aware of:

1. Ancient Sanskrit was a spoken form of Sanskrit in common use in parts of Ancient India. (I think someone said here that there was no spoken Sanskrit at any time in Indian history- this is wrong). There were other more common languages such as Prakrit (which was also an Indo-Iranian language like Sanskrit, but is described by Sanskrit revisionists as an inferior language- the name Prakrit itself is given a meaning in Sanskrit as uncouth or vulgar) a form of which (Magadhi) was supposedly used by the Buddha in teaching his disciples.
2. Vedic Sanskrit was very different from this Ancient Sanskrit, the spoken form of the language, and much of the former remains indecipherable.
3. Panini's work was on Ancient Sanskrit- the commonly used form (Bhasha). Not on Vedic Sanskrit as is often commonly confused by revisionists. Through Panini's work, Ancient Sanskrit became Classical Sanskrit.

When we say 'Sanskrit', we are generally referring to Classical Sanskrit. Not Vedic Sanskrit, which is quite different. Classical Sanskrit dates back to 400 BC, not much earlier than that. Vedic Sanskrit was always different from Ancient Sanskrit, and Panini's work was not to describe grammar rules for the liturgical Vedic language as is often falsely interpreted by Hindu apologists. Indologists believe that Vedic Sanskrit has had layers of meaning added to it over the centuries by priests and scholars intent on revisionist reinterpretation of the Rigveda (and later Vedic works).

Panini was, without a doubt, a brilliant man. His Ashtadhyayi remains incomparable to any early work in linguistics- in fact, it is considered the oldest systematic descriptive linguistics work by many scholars. But there is no evidence of Ancient Sanskrit having been written down prior to a century or so after Panini invented Classical Sanskrit. This is not to say that the works weren't well-preserved, but probably only as oral knowledge. Scholars actually believe that Panini himself knew about the Iranian Aramaic script but used sets of pupils as human notebooks to compose his work, much like how Vedic Sanskrit is still passed down today (as a side note, Devanagari which is often passed off as how Sanskrit was written forever, was not invented till around 1000 AD, many centuries after Panini's works, and of course, the Vedic compositions, were complied). Earlier Classical Sanskrit used other scripts. Renowned historian and Indologist Romila Thapar talks in detail about this stuff in her book Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300,.

Some easily debunked false claims:

1. Sanskrit is a perfect language: The concept of perfection is meaningless without descriptors. One can say 'Sanskrit is a perfectly (descriptor) language', or something like that. But some specific claims are indeed made by proponents, such as that Sanskrit is a very precise language and there is no confusion about the meaning of the words etc. This is completely false. Like all really old languages, Sanskrit is extremely imprecise- any apparent precision is an ad hoc association. Of course Classical Sanskrit, the grammar of which was codified by Panini, is well described in structure. But like in all highly inflectional languages the meanings of various words in Sanskrit are context specific and therefore easily open to being misinterpreted. A good example I like to use in English of this phenomenon is the highly inflected word 'antidisestablishmentarian?ism'. If you don't know the context, knowing each one of the individual parts (known as morphmemes) of the inflected doesn't help you figure out the actual meaning of the word. Sanskrit and Arabic are more inflected than English. The most inflected languages are some of the Native American languages.

Inflection is a really useful tool in a language as it absorbs new words and evolves as it is spoken by the people. But this usefulness becomes a liability when
a) The language is not commonly spoken and is rather fixed, as Classical languages are.
b) Older use of the language is fitted with meaning using post hoc inflectional analysis, without knowledge of context.

Moreover, we cannot use the well-defined form of Classical Sanskrit as evidence that the Vedic Sanskrit is perfect. The two are simply not the same.

2. Sanskrit is the oldest language in the world and mother to all languages: Complete rot. (Side note: A hilarious consequence of accepting Sanskrit as the "mother of all languages" is that Sanskrit then would have to have originated in Africa).

3. Sanskrit is a scientific language: Anyone who says this exposes themselves as two things-
a) Ignorant about science.
b) An unapologetic Hindu apologist (pun intended)

4. Sanskrit is well-suited to be a computer language (and various spin-off claims such as Sanskrit is the reason why India produces so many great computer programmers): The first part of this is easily disposed off. The idea was first introduced in the 1980s as a way of using a natural language as a computer language. The idea was abandoned early, but Hindu apologists continue to quote a single exploratory paper in 1985 and an article in Forbes magazine in 1987 to support these claims. The truth is, no credible scientific paper has established anything of this sort.

The second part- that Sanskrit is the reason India produces so many great computer programmers, is also complete rot. Not only is the association between knowledge of Sanskrit logic and good computer programming false (many classical languages are as structured as Sanskrit is and similar claims have been made about applying the logic of Latin, Arabic, Greek, Hewbrew and Mandarin to computer programming), but the premise is itself false. India produces more software programmers than any other country. This is without contest. But the quality of the code that comes out of India is well below average when you look at it as a whole. Of course, some brilliant code writers are Indian. But given the number of programmers in India, what else would you expect? At least when it comes to freelance and outsourcing work, even if we disregard programmers in the developed countries, many programmers in Eastern Europe, Russia etc write more innovative and original code than their Indian counterparts. Indian programmers are known for repetitive, copy-paste programming- a product of the way in which Indians are still educated, even in fields such as computer programming where innovation and originality are key. This might not be apparent if you live in Bangalore or Delhi where many of the good programmers work for the big software companies. But think of India as a whole and you cannot escape the fact that Indian software professionals are certainly not better programmers on average than the rest of the world.

Some good links:
The Indo-European language tree, showing the branch off of the Indo-Iranian languages from which Sanskrit followed by other North Indian languages are derived: http://www.tutorpal.com/Ou?r_English/images/ltree.jpg
The Proto-Dravidian language tree: http://www.translationdire?ctory.com/ima...uag?es.gif
Distribution of Indo-Iranian languages: http://dnghu.org/indoeurop?ean/indoeurop...age068.png
Distribution of Dravidian languages:
http://upload.wikimedia.or?g/wikipedia/commons/thumb/?3/36/Dravidische_Sprachen.?png/587px-Dravidische_Spra?chen.png
(Note how Singhalese and Brahui are major exceptions to the geographic continuity in spread of these languages)
The linguistic tree of the world: http://www.pnas.org/conten?t/94/15/7719/F3.large.jpg

Some facts about origins and influences of Indian languages:

Strictly speaking, at some point the predecessors of all Indian languages must have come from outside India, unless a language was invented from scratch (this is highly unlikely). But we can say when a proto-language developed into a recognizable extant language, and whether that happened in India or outside. For the Dravidian languages it is clear this happened in the subcontinent almost completely. In the case of Sanskrit as well, although it is likely that although the proto-language probably had an origin outside of India, its evolution into Ancient Sanskrit (and the Vedic form) occurred mostly in the Indian subcontinent.

While it is often stressed how influential Sanskrit has been on the Dravidian languages (which had an entirely separate origin, seen as a distinct branch of the evolutionary tree), the reverse is also true and probably more so, but often left out of the discussion. The evolution of Sanskrit in India was directly a result of a later arrival proto-Iranian language interacting with various proto-Dravidian languages (refered to in lingusitic circles as a 'substratum', where one language evolves over a 'substrate' language, adopting many of the substrate language's qualities until it becomes distinct in comparison to its initial form). There is a lot of evidence for the influence of Dravidian languages on Sanskrit. For example, retroflex consonants are seen only in Sanskrit and its derivatives and not in any of the other Indo-Iranian languages with which they share ancestry. Linguists consider that Indo-Aryan languages (North Indian languages broadly speaking) borrowed phonological and grammatical structure from proto-Dravidian languages, but not much lexical (words) input from them. In contrast, Dravidian languages show very little phonological and grammatical form borrowed from Sanskrit and other Indo-Aryan languages, but contain a vast amount of borrowed words. This is consistent with the fact that Sanskrit evolved in India over a proto-Dravidian substratum.

This last point, that Sanskrit (Indo-Aryan languages in general) was influenced as much by Dravidian languages as it influenced them, is not common knowledge in India, primarily because it spoils the narrative that Sanskrit is the divine language of the gods. http://en.wikipedia.org/wi?ki/Dravidian_...n_Sanskrit
http://www.tutorpal.com/Our_En?glish/images/ltree.jpg
http://www.tutorpal.com
Yesterday at 5:33pm · Like · 8 people ·
Ganesh Veluswami ?^ +1
This post deserves to get into Nirmukta Forum.
This discussion is quite informative, you know.
Yesterday at 7:16pm via Facebook Mobile · Like
Ganesh Veluswami Dear Vinayak Joshi, Sanskrit was not written in all the other scripts that I had mentioned. It was written in Grantham script and a few other scripts (I am no expert and don't remember all the list). What I wanted to point out was that exclusive Devanagari script for Sanskrit is a recent choice made entirely arbitrarily. It could easily have been anyone of the other scripts that I had pointed out. Had the deciding authority been a Malayali, it could very well have been Malayalam script; had it been a Kannadiga, it could very well have been Kannada script, etc.
And even if it was the local script to write Sanskrit, that wouldn't have meant much for the public understanding-
Just imagine transliterating Malayalam into Hindi in the Devanagari script. Would a chap well versed in Hindi and Devanagari script immediately start following Malayalam? No!

Similarly for Sanskrit. The commeners didn't understand Sanskrit, and were never encouraged to and infact they were forbidden from learning it as it was considered a Deva Basha that ONLY the elite should know!
Dear Ajita, as far as I knew, Sanskrit was never a spoken language in common use. It was spoken by the elite, for obvious reasons... to maintain their superiority over the common masses. Thanks for pointing out that some people spoke.
Yesterday at 7:44pm via Facebook Mobile · Like
karatalaamalaka ?Ajita I don't seek to contradict what you say, but I have a few questions:

1. What do revisionists have to gain from pinning Panini's work to Vedic Sanskrit? Isn't Panini much later than the vedic period anyway? Isn't it reasonable that Vedic Sanskrit couldn't have survived unmodified in the 1000 or so years between the earliest Vedic works and Panini? Vedic Sanskrit morphed into the spoken language by the time of Panini (and not much later, Ashoka).

2. None of us claim in the above comments that Prakrit is inferior. My exposure to Prakrit is from Bhasa's play Mrichchakatika. Prakrit is inferior to Sanskrit in as much as English is inferior to say, Latin. To assign a Brahminical conspiracy to it would amount to making a claim too fine-grained for the evidence presented here.

Since I have alluded earlier to the claim about the "scientific" nature of Sanskrit having a real basis, I resent your implication that:

"Anyone who says this exposes themselves as two things-
a) Ignorant about science.
b) An unapologetic Hindu apologist (pun intended)"

I obviously do not mean it in the sense of some PNOak-Deepak-Chopra-above-?video-esque woo. While it has no relation to modern science, I think there is some flexibility in using the adjective "scientific" here. Sanskrit grammar has some sophisticated reasoning underpinning it. For instance, consider the field of the study of programming languages in computer science, or the field of linguistics itself- would you not call the fields "scientific" because, to some extent both seek to understand the synthesis and analysis of languages based on a general interpretation of 'the scientific method'?

Regarding Sanskrit as a programming language, the lofty claims of the fundies are BS, and majorly due to a misinterpretation of the 1985 paper and popular media's incompetence in reporting science. You are most likely referring to this paper: http://www.aaai.org/ojs/in?dex.php/aimag...rticle/466
If you read the paper, it doesn't make any case for using Sanskrit as a programming language- it only looks at it, in the words of the paper, to make a statement about how humans synthesize languages:

"It is tempting to think of them [Indians, presumably Panini] as computer scientists without the hardware, but a possible explanation is that a search for clear, unambiguous understanding is inherent in the human being. Let
us not forget that among the great accomplishments of
the Indian thinkers were the invention of zero, and of the
binary number system a thousand years before the West
re-invented them. Their analysis of language casts doubt on the humanistic distinction between natural and artificial intelligence, and may throw light on how research in AI may finally solve the natural language understanding and machine translation problems."

which, IMO, is a pretty benign and obscure academic claim.
Yesterday at 8:04pm · Like
Ajita Kamal karatalaamalaka, you seem to have mistaken my comment as a response to you and you only. I wish to make it clear that this is not so. I had no intentions of addressing any of the specific points you made. I was addressing some points that Ganesh made, and those may have been in response to you, but more importantly I was making a general comment on many of the revisionist claims made by Hindu apologists.

1. Vedic Sanskrit was distinct from the commonly spoken Sanskrit that existed at the time of Panini. The Vedic form was used by priests in chants and rituals, and it still survives today in such use. But if I put too much stress on this difference, I'm sorry. There is no doubt that the two were different forms of the same language. Sanskrit before Panini was in a commonly spoken form was codified by Panini into Classical Sanskrit. I think there is no need wonder about what benefit Hindu apologists could have for conflating Panini's Classical Sanskrit with Vedic Sanskrit. The point is they do it.

2. I didn't say anyone here said Pakrit is inferior. I was making a general statement about the perception of the language among many Hindu apologists.

3. My criticism of the statement that Sanskrit is a scientific language was not done with your comments in mind. I was referring to how Hindu apologists make such claims, and I stand by it. But since you are now making the claim directly to me, certain programming languages are called scientific languages because they were developed specifically to enable optimal use of mathematical formulae and matrices. This is a very specific use of the phrase 'scientific language' and no I don't think Sanskrit is any more a scientific language in that sense than, say, Kannada. If you want to be flexible in your use of the word scientific, then you shold at least qualify what you meant.

4. "Regarding Sanskrit as a programming language...
If you read the paper, it doesn't make any case for using Sanskrit as a programming language"

I didn't say the paper made "any case for using Sanskrit as a programming language". I said that Hindu apologists claim a paper published in 1985 to support their ideological views. It is a claim made on almost every single Hindu website that claims Sanskrit is a scientific language that is well-suited for computer programming.
23 hours ago · Like · 2 people
Raj Subramanian I didn't say Sansrkit originate in Karnataka, I was just saying hypothetically as a example. My point is we have no sufficient data to know where which Indian language originated. The history of India in general is dependent on who writes it!!
21 hours ago · Like
Raj Subramanian ?Pratibha Nair there is no east or west when you take the globe as a whole! What Dean Brown means here is that from an ancient cultural point of view ," western culture "-is anywhere from Europe to India. He draws the boundary from China's onwards. Again I don't care, it doesn't matter either way.But the important point is there were some sharing of thoughts between India an Europe . The question of what migrated from where is difficult to judge especially considering the fact that history is mostly political- very least factual.
20 hours ago · Like
Raj Subramanian Now that I had the time to actually watch this, I think the vedio is posted with a misleading titile. I don't think we should bash Dean Brown. He is merely a theoritical physicist with an interst in Sanskrit and he is making some observation about the upanishids. He doen't make those claims posted in the vedio title. The person interviewing him is following an "evangelical" style that makes it appear this to be a propoganda. I am not surprised about Dean Brown's admiration for metaphysical discussions, most theoritical physicists in my opinion are dishing out metaphycis ( incluidng Stephen Hawknins). any way- well that is my impression- propably because I don't fully understand the ancient metaphycis, quantum theory or the modern string theories, worm holes and parallel universe, etc... It just makes me sleep!
20 hours ago · Like
karatalaamalaka ?Ajita Thanks for the clarification. I explained what I meant when I said "scientific". I don't think anyone intends "scientific" appended to "language" in this context to mean that it is like Fortran, Matlab, Linpack or whatever. Being a heavy user of scientific computing myself, I've always used, and heard most folks use the term *scientific computing* for these languages to avoid such ambiguity.

The burden to qualify using the word "scientific" is not on me. "Scientific" as an adjective can apply to either the nature of the language, or its application. If it applies to how the language is constructed, any programming language is constructed on scientific principles, and can be called a "scientific language". I stand by my claim that there is some basis for Sanskrit being called "scientific", based on the fact that there is an obvious, unique, and fairly sophisticated logic underlying Paninian Sanskrit grammar, as evinced by respectable peer reviewed literature. And this structure remains a very interesting fact about Sanskrit grammar (compared with other classical languages), even without bringing Hindutva fundies into picture. No other linguistic traidition has had a scholar invent and compile several consistent, formal rules for grammar.

To quote the linguist Paul Kiparsky, "Modern linguistics acknowledges it as the most complete generative grammar of any language yet written, and continues to adopt technical ideas from it."
[If you need the entire context of that quote, here is the source
http://www.stanford.edu/~k?iparsky/Papers/encycl.pdf ]

Now that you mention it, I Googled for "scientific language". If used in the context of computing, "scientific language" would mean what you said. But I've heard it used so rarely in such a manner as "Fortran is a scientific language" that I believe we are splitting hairs by saying "scientific languages" can also mean Fortran-type languages, particularly in this context.
18 hours ago · Like
Ajita Kamal karatalaamalaka, I do not wish to belabor this point since, as you say, we are splitting hairs. But the fact remains that indeed you need to qualify what you mean by "scientific" in this case, especially since you claim that you are using it as a "flexible" adjective. You cannot simply demand that we accept your definition of "scientific" without explanation. If I were to use the term in such a "flexible" manner, then the burden of explaining it would be on me. After the point was made, you have indeed explained your use of the word. Thank you.

You said: ///"If used in the context of computing, "scientific language" would mean what you said. But I've heard it used so rarely in such a manner as "Fortran is a scientific language" that I believe we are splitting hairs by saying "scientific languages" can also mean Fortran-type languages, particularly in this context."///

The only academic use of the phrase "scientific language" that I am aware of is in the context of computing languages. You say that you have rarely heard this use of the phrase. I say it is the only legitimate use of the phrase that can be accepted without qualification, because the definition (presented above) qualifies it properly. In the context of computing languages, the word "scientific" is qualified to mean that the languages are scientifically constructed to function as a tool for a specific purpose. Therefore, in this sense, the word scientific has been made acceptable.

In the field of linguistics there are certainly applications of the scientific method concerned with observation, hypothesis formulation, experimental verification and modification of hypothesis. But this application of the scientific method applies to all languages, and indeed has been applied to all of them. If we were to use "scientific language" in that sense, then the term loses its value immediately. Claims of antiquity do not privilege Sanskrit over any other language in this regard, because the methods of science are just as applicable to any of the natural and synthetic languages that we have.

The issue is not how well-structured Sanskrit is. Of course "this structure remains a very interesting fact about Sanskrit grammar (compared with other classical languages), even without bringing Hindutva fundies into picture". But structure is by no means a unique trait of Sanskrit, and in no way uniquely qualifies it as "scientific". For example, there are polysynthetic languages that are more inflected than Sanskrit, capable of using a single word to describe characters and events in detail, and there are analytic languages that are extremely isolating such as Chinese, where there is no inflection at all. Each of these languages had a rather unique logic and structure.

If you had said Sanskrit is unique in a way because it was the first language to be systematically structured using a sophisticated system of generative grammar, we would not have a problem. The issue is the use of the phrase "scientific language". If you look up claims of "scientific language", you will find various pseudoscientific articles all trying to appropriate the term "scientific" the way Sanskrit proponents of the Hindu apologist variety do all the time. These are all wrong uses of the word "scientific".

A more appropriate use of the phrase (when not referring to computing languages) is as a descriptor to indicate how frequently the language is used in writing scientific papers. In this regard, English is the most scientific language (although I am not comfortable in this use of the phrase either). If we were to use the phrase to describe the influence of a language in science in general, then Latin would be the most scientific language, simply as a consequence of historical constraint. But still, those uses must be properly qualified, as would any claims of Sanskrit being a "scientific language". I stand by my claim that calling Sanskrit a "scientific language" demonstrates either an ignorance of what science entails, or an affiliation with Hindu pseudoscience. I will add a third category- a tendency to use the word "scientific" loosely and in a way that ascribes too much uniqueness to that which is being described as such. I find the use of the phrase "scientific language" in such a way to not only be misleading, but also highly irresponsible.
11 hours ago · Like · 1 person
Ajita Kamal karatalaamalaka, I am sure that there is room for disagreement on this if we keep misusing the term "scientific". I will leave it here. After you have responded I will archive this conversation on the forums.
11 hours ago · Like · 1 person
karatalaamalaka I close the argument with these points:

1. I didn't use the term "scientific language". I only pointed to the fact that your introduction of its definition as referring to programming languages used for "optimized for the use of mathematical formulas and matrices" (which is a repeat without attribution, of the Wiki definition) amounts to splitting hairs. All I said was there is some basis for calling Sanskrit language (/grammar) "scientific". I maintain that claim.

2. The reason for there being some science underlying Sanskrit is, Panini's work has the elements of the scientific method: structured definitions [several examples], implicit hypotheses on how humans use language, predictions in the form of a generative grammar, and as for experimental validation, there is much peer reviewed work examining and validating the goals of Panini's work. I refute your suggestion that our disagreement arises only if we misuse the term "scientific". That is just you claiming in impersonal language that your arguments are right and mine are wrong. smile

3. There is no need to apply an egalitarian view to languages (argument about Sanskrit being the same as Kannada, and so on). Panini was an extraordinary talent whose contributions to Sanskrit grammar make it stand out among other languages. His approach to grammar was continued later by Pathanjali and Katyayana, who improved upon and commented on Panini's work (a school of thought?).

Pythagoras, Euclid, and other Greek philosophers pioneered Greek mathematical ideas based on proofs-induction and deduction, and made Greek thought unique and extraordinary for the ancient world. Is there any point in saying, say, Indian mathematics c. 300 BC was just as beautiful as Greek mathematics c. 300 BC? All evidence points to- "No!" There was a significant paradigm shift in how mathematics was viewed due to the presence of schools of thoughts and competent philosophers from Greece. In the same way, Panini had ideas about linguistics far ahead of his time and his work contained aspects of the scientific method. This is unlike most other spoken/written languages. If other languages are shown to have been developed by works such as Panini's, one can make the claim of "scientific basis" about each such language.

These are some of my conclusions from having studied and enjoyed Sanskrit in school, and having always had a general interest in its linguistic and historical aspects.
53 minutes ago · Like
Ajita Kamal Ok, I will take this to the forums. Just one point to be noted here. You are falsely accusing me of plagiarism. My statement regarding programming languages, in response to YOUR reference to them, was : "certain programming languages are called scientific languages because they were developed specifically to enable optimal use of mathematical formulae and matrices."
You quoted me falsely as saying ""optimized for the use of mathematical formulas and matrices"
Even the phrase you quoted was inaccurate. But you left out the context of the wikipedia quote which was "In computer programming, a scientific language is a programming language optimized for the use of mathematical formulas and matrices". If you think that I am plagiarizing wikipedia because of paraphrasing a statement that no one can disagree with, in a specific context where it is acceptable, then I think it is you who is splitting hairs.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
Reply
#2
Quote:1. I didn't use the term "scientific language".


I did, and as explained in my first reply to you that assumed that I was talking to you, I wasn't talking to you at all. I initially said
"Sanskrit is a scientific language: Anyone who says this exposes themselves as two things-
a) Ignorant about science.
b) An unapologetic Hindu apologist (pun intended)"
I stand by that, with some additional caveats that I introduced later in the thread.

Quote:I only pointed to the fact that your introduction of its definition as referring to programming languages....

I was pointing out the only accepted academic use of the term that I am aware of, especially since you made the comparison to programming languages in your reply to my first comment. That is, you were the first to bring up programming languages, which is what made me refer to them in the first place.

If you did not disagree with my statement since I was referring to those who used the phrase "scientific language", why then are we having this conversation? When you challenged me on this point, you said:

Quote:I resent your implication that:

"Anyone who says this exposes themselves as two things-
a) Ignorant about science.
b) An unapologetic Hindu apologist (pun intended)"

So since you resented the implication of MY words, I assumed that you agreed with the Hindu apologists that Sanskrit is indeed a scientific language, which is indeed a stronger version of your claim.
A note on YOUR claim that there is *some* "scientific basis" to Sanskrit. By the criteria presented, there are varying degrees of "scientific basis" to all languages. There is some scientific basis to pretty much every human endeavor that has been subjected to the scientific method wholly or in part.
-------------------------------

As I have said throughout this conversation, there is no doubt that Panini's influence on Sanskritic Grammar is immense (if you read my first comment, I actually think he can be said to have invented Classical Sanskrit from the spoken Bhasha). But I do not think this qualifies Sanskrit itself as a scientific language (at least not in any sense that qualifies it as uniquely so).
What is important to note is the context in which people make the claim that Sanskrit is a scientific language. This is why I think the usage (or endorsement) of the phrase is misleading and highly irresponsible. A simple google search demonstrates what people are actually claiming as Sanskrit's scientific credentials. A similar search on Korean shows a similar number of websites making equally far-fetched claims of Korean's perfect logical structure. Sanskrit may indeed be more logical and better structured than Korean (I don''t know if this is true or if anyone has ever quantified this, or if it is even possible to objectively quantify such a comparison) but neither language can use these claims to say they are "scientific languages".

On a side note, here is a course being taught on "English as a Scientific Language" in a research institution affiliated to Harvard Medical School. Of course, they are talking about actually using English in scientific study- that is, English as a tool when doing science. This is not an academic use of the phrase "scientific language" either, more like short-hand to name a particular course that attempts to help "improve the communication skills of postdoctoral research fellows whose first language is not English and to help integrate them into their English-speaking environment."
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
Reply
#3
(08-Aug-2011, 09:27 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: What is important to note is the context in which people make the claim that Sanskrit is a scientific language. This is why I think the usage (or endorsement) of the phrase is misleading and highly irresponsible. A simple google search demonstrates what people are actually claiming as Sanskrit's scientific credentials. A similar search on Korean shows a similar number of websites making equally far-fetched claims of Korean's perfect logical structure.

Continuing the discussion from Facebook... I fully understand your point of view. There is indeed a helluva lot of crap in the community of Hindu fundamentalists. At the same time, I don't like it that any discussion in support of Sanskrit or contradicting the prevailing narrative of Indian history, such as RPN Rao, et al's recent paper on the Indus script gets lumped with the trash spewed by PN Oak, NS Rajaram, and others. I felt that the tone of that particular Facebook discussion was along these lines, with unnecessary dissing of Sanskrit in some of the posts- a refusal to acknowledge the beauty and uniqueness of the language. Please note that I do not cite any of the whackjob researchers. Paul Kiparsky, as far as I know, is a renowned linguist and his work praising Panini is peer reviewed and well received.

I apologize for mistaking that your original post was a response to me.

Quote: I was pointing out the only accepted academic use of the term that I am aware of, especially since you made the comparison to programming languages in your reply to my first comment. That is, you were the first to bring up programming languages, which is what made me refer to them in the first place.

You misunderstand why I use the example of a programming language. I am not making the implication that Sanskrit is a programming language. Any language can be used to program and Sanskrit is not special. I refer to programming languages in the context of linguistics- generative grammars for synthesizing a language. Few have undertaken the task of synthesizing the grammar for a language, save Panini, LL Zamenhoff (Esperanto), and scientists who create programming languages. These are the only examples I can think of to explain the scientific methods used in creating a language. I speak of linguists because they undertake the task of understanding the evolution of language, for which they introduce concepts like 'generative grammar' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generative_grammar , which is essentially what Panini's work is.

I don't claim anywhere that Sanskrit is a programming language as is popular in nut-case circles.
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#4
One claim I've come across is that some concepts expressed in Sanskrit can only be grokked by learning and understanding Sanskrit. For example, the meaning of Dharma cannot be expressed in other languages. How much truth is there in such claims?
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#5
(29-Aug-2011, 10:00 PM)Lije Wrote: One claim I've come across is that some concepts expressed in Sanskrit can only be grokked by learning and understanding Sanskrit. For example, the meaning of Dharma cannot be expressed in other languages. How much truth is there in such claims?

Sanskrit is by no means alone in having 'untranslatable words'. The presence of such words steeped in cultural caprice and peculiarity and hence not readily transferrable to other cultural contexts, is not particularly a measure of merit of the language. To say that an untranslatable term like Dharma makes Sanskrit indispensable, makes about as much sense as saying that the absence of precise one-word English equivalents of the Chinese Tao or the German schadenfreude testify to the greatness of these languages above all others.

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