compound analysis in e-texts

Bijoy Misra bmisra at
Sat Aug 31 20:36:51 UTC 1996

On Sat, 31 Aug 1996, Jakub Cejka wrote:

> Ad Brigit Kellner opposition to romanized texts: 
> Yes, Sanskrit is a foreign language (even foreign to everyone), I do not, 
> however see the reason why romanized texts do any harm to it. We should 
> not forget that devanagari is not THE Sanskrit script. The original 
> Sanskrit texts (in mss) are written in devanagari, grantha, telugu, 
> bangla, sarada -aadi Scripts. Even today, students in India read Sanskrit 
> not only in devanagari which has otherwise been selected recently as the 
> script (perhaps because of Hindi being widely learnt). In West Bengal I 
> saw M.A. students always preferred to read their student editions of 
> Sanskrit texts in Bangla lipi, similarly elsewhere. If Hindi was not 
> promoted in India together with devanagari becoming scholarly script for 
> Sanskrit, the case would be similar to Pali. Why should Pali be studied 
> in say Sinhala script rather than any other one or than romanized 
> transliteration according to needs? 

I am not a scholar in indology, but delve into sanskrit texts when 
I find time (do translations, enjoy reading text).  I have observed 
and interacted with sanskrit scholars both in India (through family) 
and in the US (in the university).  My difficulties on the above are 
the following:

1.  Sanskrit is a phonetic language.  Unless the sounds are pronounced
    properly, the word appears half-digested to me.  So my feeling is
    that any sanskrit reading should empower the reader with its phonetics.

2.  If people agree in 1, the tools in Roman script are lacking to
    properly transliterate sanskrit.  I know various methods for
    transliteration have been used or are under consideration.  However
    they all represent a way to "comprehend" rather than help "enjoy" to
    read.  The goal here should not simply be to "know" the language
    but to "understand" its literature, IMHO.

3.  Devanagari is already an abbreviated set.  We know now that some of 
    the Devanagari letters are not so popular.  But the number of letters 
    to connect to various sounds in Sanskrit is probably around 50 in
    order that one can respect the important verb roots.  What I find 
    difficult is that in the western universities, the sounds in Sanskrit
    are very little emphasized.  There is little or no demand to write or
    speak in Sanskrit.  Possibly such may be the trend in India and
    elsewhere.  This seems unfortunate to me given the number of scholars
    engaged in learning Sanskrit.

I wish to concur with Mr. Kellner that attempts should be made to print
material in a script such that the sounds are preserved.  Devanagari seems
to be an easy alternative.  The scholars may think of researching and
inventing the tools such that the reader enjoys reading this literature
and is empowered to create new compositions.


_ Bijoy Misra.
  Cambridge, Ma.

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