[INDOLOGY] The alphabet found in the Lalitavistara

Richard G. Salomon rsalomon at uw.edu
Fri Nov 1 16:16:12 EDT 2019


Many documents containing the "alphabet" in Devanagari and other scripts,
ancient and modern, have kṣa, jña, and/or tra added in various combinations
(one, two, or all three), at the end, after ha, because these are graphic
ligatures, in the sense that they are (no longer) obviously combinations of
their component graphs. The criteria are graphic, not phonetic (although
coincidentally jña is phonetically distinct in most languages dialects from
j-ñ). You can see some or all of these special graphs in various Indian
primers for teaching reading to children.

The position of the ligatures at the end of the "alphabet" is part of a
general pattern in script history whereby "extra" characters get added –
understandably – at the end of the standard sequence. This is why,
for example, our alphabet has v-w-x-y-z at the end; these were not part of
the character sets in the scripts from which "Latin" is developed, going
back to the Phoenician (and ultimately even to proto-Canaanite) script,
which ended with t.

Rich Salomon


On Fri, Nov 1, 2019 at 2:20 AM Martin Joachim Kümmel via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> Dear Madhav and colleagues,
>
>
>
> in NW Indo-Aryan, old *kṣ* developed into a new phoneme, a retroflex
> affricate *ṭṣh*, and I have long been wondering if this might be one
> factor relevant for the special status of this akṣara. Although lack of l
> might also have been an originally NW feature, I am not sure this would
> still be relevant at the time, and for the other peculiarities, I don’t see
> how they might be explained as NW.
>
>
>
> All the best,
>
> Martin
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Univ.-Prof. Dr. Martin Joachim Kümmel
>
> Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Philosophische Fakultät
>
> Institut für Orientalistik, Indogermanistik, Ur-und Frühgeschichtliche
> Archäologie
>
> Seminar für Indogermanistik
>
> Zwätzengasse 12, D-07743 Jena, Germany
>
> Tel. +49-(0)3641-9443-81 Fax -82 Sekretariat -80
>
> E-mail: martin-joachim.kuemmel at uni-jena.de
>
> Homepage: http://www.oriindufa.uni-jena.de/k%C3%BCmmel_martin.html
>
>
>
> *Von:* INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> *Im Auftrag von *Madhav
> Deshpande via INDOLOGY
> *Gesendet:* Donnerstag, 31. Oktober 2019 18:25
> *An:* Indology <indology at list.indology.info>; Bharatiya Vidvat parishad <
> bvparishat at googlegroups.com>
> *Betreff:* [INDOLOGY] The alphabet found in the Lalitavistara
>
>
>
> Dear Colleagues,
>
>
>
>      As I have been reading the Lipiśālāsandarśana-Parivarta of the
> Lalitavistara [p. 89, P. L. Vaidya edition], some interesting features of
> the alphabet popped up for me.  The Alphabet omits *r̥* and *l̥*, but
> includes *ai, au*, and *aḥ*. Among the consonants, it adds *kṣ *at the
> end after *h*.  The version of this passage as given in the
> Bauddhāgamārthasaṅgraha [ed by P. L. Vaidya] also omits *l*, while it is
> included in the version of Lalitavistara edited by Vaidya himself.  I
> wonder if there are textual variants about this.  I don't know what this
> alphabet represents.  The omission of *r̥ *and *l̥ *goes along the
> phonologies of Prakrits, but the inclusion of *ai, au*, and *aḥ* goes in
> the direction of Sanskrit.  The addition of *kṣ *and the possible
> omission of *l *point to something else that I cannot figure out.  Any
> suggestions and references are welcome.
>
>
>
> Madhav M. Deshpande
>
> Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
>
> University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
>
> Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies
>
>
>
> [Residence: Campbell, California, USA]
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