`Conversational Sanskrit' vs `Real Sanskrit'

Peter D Banos pdb1 at columbia.edu
Fri May 2 14:52:24 UTC 1997

On Mon, 28 Apr 1997, Vidhyanath Rao wrote:

> The difference can be settled by an experiment that I am not in a
> position to perform. Teach Hindi to a number of students who have
> had no formal instruction in grammar, and not familiar with any
> language with ergative constructions. Do not talk of active versus
> passive during the introduction of the perfect past, and make sure 
> that the textbook/readers and any supporting materials do so as
> well. First drill the students in the past of the `transitive'
> verbs. When they are familiar with it, introduce the changes to made
> in the case of the other verbs. My theory predicts that the students
> will insert `ne' in the case of intrasitive verbs more often
> than they drop it in case of transitives and that the tendency to do
> this will have no relation to the frequency of the `passive' in the
> student's primary language. Your theory predicts that they will do
> the reverse and will have been doing this from the beginning,
> and that this will be inversely correlated with the frequency of the
> `passive' in the student's primary language.

Since this is, at least for now, a thought-experiment only, 
let me speculate.
Presumably you will have taught your hypothetical students the _present_
tense before approaching any form of the past. Perhaps also the
imperfective past, if not before the perfective, then at about the same
So _my_ guess is that the students will always perceive the _ne_
construction as some weird thing, an imposition, and never fully
internalize it, or at least not as deeply as the present-tense
construction. When
they learn that not all verbs use it they will be relieved, and more
likely than not, will develop a strong tendency to dispense with it

What do those who actually teach or have taught Hindi think about this?

						Peter D. Banos
						pdb1 at columbia.edu

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