Too many synonyms?

Sun Sep 14 16:03:27 UTC 1997

At 10:10 AM 9/14/97 -0400, vidyanatha rao  wrote:
>> Is this confined to nouns? What is the current thinking concerning one
>> dhAtu (root) representing many actions (e.g., `divu krIda vijigIsha
>> vyavahara dyuti stuti mOda mada swapna kanti gatishu') and one action
>> being represented by many dhAtus in sanskrit.
>Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that Indian lexicography
>assumes that if two words have approximately similar meanings in one context,
>then they are exact synonyms. This is provably false in many living
>For example, in English, `I looked at the painting' and `I saw the
>painting' are not too far off in meaning, `I saw the movie' and `I watched
>the movie' are viturally identical, but `I looked at X' and `I watched X'
>are seldom equivalent. [An amusing game based on such things, for nouns,
>is one I learned from New Scientist: Follow a chain of `synonyms' in
>a standard thesaurus till the last one is an antonym of the first.]
>How far is the seeming polysemy and existence of several synonyms due
>to this assumption, and how far is it part and parcel of Sanskrit?
>[i.e, are there manuals in Sanskrit meant to illustrate the distinctions
>between words of broadly similar meaning?]

Sorry by mistake I have sent an incomplete posting. I beg your indulgence.

First of all let me correct the transliteration of the example I have
given. It is  `divu krIDA vijigIshA vyavahAra dyuti stuti mOda mada swapna
kAnti gatishu'.
This is the first dhatu in DivAdi GaNa. The single root `divu' is supposed
to represent 10 dufferent actions that are listed above. krIDa = to play,
vijigIshA = to aspire to conquer, vyavahara = to conduct, dyuti = to shine,
stuti = to praise, mOda = to rejoice, mada = to be drunk, swapna = to
dream, kAnti = to glow, gati = to move.

For one action we find many verbs like

bhU, asa = to be
gam, s.r, char etc. = to move

In nouns there are many names for the same object (paryAya padAs) and many
meanings to a single noun (nAnArthas).

One of the theories about their existence is that aryans acquired these as
they wandered through different lands with defferent dilects and laguages.
I would like to know the present thinking.


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list