Western scholarship (was Re: Rig Veda, ta'ntra, nUl, and sUtra)

Palaniappa at aol.com Palaniappa at aol.com
Sun Apr 13 19:55:58 UTC 1997

In a message dated 97-04-13 14:19:31 EDT, jacob.baltuch at infoboard.be (Jacob
Baltuch) writes:

<< I believe the purpose of looking outside IE and Dravidian is simply
 to check this wasn't a usual metaphor. This has nothing to do with
 looking for any sources. If you want to explain some convergence of
 IA and Dravidian as an influence of the one on the other (or vice versa),
 it may be wise to make sure the thing in question couldn't have appeared
 independently in both. >>

I also believe in tracing the origin of the concept of text as 'warp' as far
as it can go. However, when Indian and Semitic languages were not in direct
contact at the time of the Rig Veda, even if we find Semitic has that
concept, it does not help us in solving the problem in the Indian context.
This is because, as George Thompson has shown, Avestan does not have it.
Avestan would be expected to have a much more intimate contact with Semitic
than Indian languages. Other than independent developments in Indian and
Semitic, the only way Semitic would have influenced Vedic would be if the
Aryans coming to India came as a group (independent of Iranians) separately
making their own contact with Semitic. If I am correct, it is still believed
that Indo-Iranian split into Iranian and Indic languages. If Semitic has the
concept of text based on 'warp' as does Dravidian, then we can say just that
unless, of course, a word can be shown to have been borrowed from one
language by another. (If Indo-European had the concept of text derived from
'ta'n', then we would be in the same position also.)

Even if one considers a super family of languages including Indo-European and
Dravidian, it is Vedic which looks like the innovator. Consider the root
'spa' in Indo-European, and the words 'pA' in Dravidian, and 'ta'ntu' in
Vedic, 'spa', and 'pA' are a lot closer than 'spa' and 'ta'ntu'.
Incidentally, Frank Southworth has identified pairs of words in Dravidian and
Indo-European with 's' being the difference between the two forms! (For
example, English 'speak', Tamil 'pEcu') 

In any case, my aim for quoting the proverb in this case was only to point
out the inefficacy of the search for roots outside the language families in
contact. Lest some might get a wrong impression, let me reiterate that I do
have a high regard for Western scholarship and in this particular case, I am
especially grateful to George Thompson, but for whose crucial comments, we
would not have reached this solution.


S. Palaniappan

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