Beginnings of writing

Hueckstedt hueckst at cc.UManitoba.CA
Wed Oct 16 18:35:12 UTC 1996

To pick up an old thread . . . 

While involved in a project that has nothing to do with the beginnings of 
writing in South Asia, I happened upon a varttika in the _MahAbhA.sya_ of 
Pata~njali that may be of some interest. (I don't recall that it was 
mentioned in the previous discussion. If I'm bringing up something that 
is generally known, smile faintly and hit the ole delete button.)

In the _a.s.tAdhyAyI_ rule 4.1.49 says:"sarva-rudra-m.r.da-himAra.nya-
yava-yavana-mAtulAcAryA.nAm Anuk

which basically means that to form the feminine after the nominal stems 
indra, etc. one uses the augment Anuk and the affix "nI.s. For 
example, from indra we get indrA.nI.

Varttika 3 on that rule states:

yavanAl lipyAm

which means, according to Pata~njali, that the word yavanAnI, formed in 
this way, refers to the script of the yavanas.

This in no way proves that at the time of the conception of this idea 
there must have been a script in use among the inhabitants of South 
Asia, but it does mean that they must have known what such a thing was.

Dates here, of course, are murky, but if we accept that 200 bc is a good 
approximate date for Pata~njali, then the above varttika clearly dates to 
a time before that. 

Looking forward to comments and discussion,
Bob Hueckstedt

Robert A. Hueckstedt, Associate Professor of Indic Languages
Asian Studies Centre, 328 Fletcher Argue, University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2 Canada
fax 1 204-275-5781 phones 1 204-474-8964, 1 204-488-4797

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