Sandhi in `real' Sanskrit vs `conversational' Sanskrit

zydenbos at zydenbos at
Sun Apr 20 03:16:12 UTC 1997

Replies to msg 18 Apr 97: indology at
(vidynath at

 voe> From: Vidhyanath Rao <vidynath at>

 voe> The editor's introduction in the HSS I referred to earlier notes
 voe> that in some verses attributed to Bhart.rhari, sandhi is
 voe> occasionally not applied at the caesura. In the Kaavyas, sandhi
 voe> is applied between the padas, but not always in puraa.nas.

Which is one reason why some modern authors call the language of the puraa.nas
"corrupted" because of "errors in sandhi". But whether these are really to be
considered "errors" is debatable in some cases, and could indeed reflect a
manner of thinking about prosody that relaxes the application of sandhi rules
in favour of a more natural pronunciation of verses instead of considering the
metrical verse the unit of pronunciation.

 voe> In Tamil, for novels, prose works expounding some aspect of
 voe> Tamil literature or cilture etc, sandhi is applied only for
 voe> word/morpheme groups that form a whole, like words forming
 voe> a compound verb.

Well, I suggest that you watch the behaviour of the suffix "-ku" and of words
like "inta". And when do "words form a whole"? It may be that in contemporary
Tamil prose, written sandhi is largely, though not completely, limited to the
internal sandhi of compounds (though I call it "internal" here, we could debate
over whether "words forming a compound verb" is an instance of internal or
external sandhi). Unambiguous external sandhi is very much there in Kannada
(both loopasandhi and aade;sasandhi), besides internal sandhi.

> (If by "all" you also mean languages outside India: French is an obvious
> example of a language with written sandhi.)

 voe> Between articles and associated nouns, between (some) prepositions
 voe> and
 voe> associated nouns etc. Do you mean to say that sandhi is applied in
 voe> print between the object and the verb, between the subject
 voe> and the
 voe> verb? My reading of French is for the most part limited to math
 voe> papers, but I don't even remember sandhi being applied in
 voe> print between adjective and the noun.

Adjective and noun?
        - nouveau livre
        - nouvel arbre

Perhaps you should go through some linguistic literature to see how linguists
use the term 'sandhi', and that sandhi has not much to do with objects and

> It is of course true that sandhi in
> these languages has less far-reaching consequences, but it is there.

 voe> `less far-reaching' is to put it mildly.

Are you suggesting, in your criticizing of other sandhis, that only Sanskrit
has the "full variety", and that other languages (French, Italian, Portuguese,
Tamil, Kannada, what else? Irish is another good one) do not have "real"
sandhi? But then, who owns sandhi and decides what real sandhi is? (This is a
rhetorical question, mind you. I am just being nasty. Ignore it.)

- RZ

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