Semantic clustering technique in South Asian dictiona

s. kalyanaraman s._kalyanaraman at
Tue Feb 28 07:52:42 UTC 1995

     Mr. Lance Cousins; I agree with you that where historical records are 
     available, definite reliance can be placed on 'dating' a morpheme. In 
     languages of South Asia (with a scanty recorded historical tradition 
     -- whatever leads exist almost verge on mythological), an alternative 
     could be the basic principle found in ALL writing systems (including 
     Chinese): 'imaging' the sounds. [Chinese is a direct representation of 
     the sound and its meaning; Egyptian hieroglyphics and other writing 
     systems represent the 'image' of a homonymous sound.] The problem of 
     'history of a spoken word' becomes extremely complex for many 
     languages which did without a distinctive script, e.g. Tulu and many 
     Austro-Asiatic tongues. In such cases, corroborative evidence of 
     archaeology may help? S. Kalyanaraman Madras Tel. 91-44-493-6288

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Semantic clustering technique in South Asian dictionary
Author:  indology at at INTERNET
Date:    27/02/1995 10:20 PM

   Dr. S. Kalyanaraman writes:

>     I believe, that it is not necessary to establish 'ancestry' for a
>word. If
>     it is found across scores of languages spread across vast distances,
>     authenticated in very, very ancient literary texts and epigraphs, it
>     not really matter which phonetic variant came first, despite
>Mayrhoffer and
>     Burrow/Emeneau disagreeing. What is more important are the 'images'
>     associated with or evoked by the phonemic variants of a

The problem with this is that we know it is wrong for European languages
where we have much more historical data. So rather the opposite is the
case. If we cannot establish ancestry then we have little to rely on.

Lance Cousins

Telephone (UK): 0161 434 3646



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