Dominique.Thillaud thillaud at UNICE.FR
Sun Feb 22 20:58:45 UTC 1998

Sat, 21 Feb 1998 13:09:50 +0500 Bh. Krishnamurti wrote

>You are right; I do not think any genuine Indian linguist buys the theory
>that Sanskrit originated in India and travelled north and west. The
>rejection of the Skt descent of Dravidian is over 100 years old, although
>you occasionally  come across pseudo experts/traditional pundits who repeat
>the abandoned theory, because they are not basicaly linguists. The other
>kind, like Subrahmanya in the list, mistake aspects of convergence between
>languages through contact as genetic phenomena. They have basically no idea
>of how genetic relationships are established among languages.

        It's absolutely normal that many Indian people don't know well the
genetic linguistic because it is mainly based on Eurindian studies. As
stated few time ago, they don't know Latin and Greek nor other (modern and
ancient) westerner languages except English. And it's very difficult to see
links between English and Sanskrit  for two reasons:
        1) the English grammar have lost most of the Eurindian features. As
an example, the well known parallelism between Sanskrit asti/santi, Latin
est/sunt, German ist/sind don't match English is/are!
        2) the vocabulary of English comes from two sources, Germanic and
Italic, and it's hard to distinguish them by someone not knowing other
Germanic languages nor French and Latin.
        Hence, reading past mailings, I believe that many of Indian people
don't know the regularity of phonetical correspondancies, just thinking
that likeness is sufficient. Going back to the source of the discussion, I
suppose they would be amazed to know that the words:
        Greek kokkUx, Modern Greek koukos, Latin cucUlus, French coucou,
English cuckoo, German Kuckuck, Sanskrit kokilaH
        are NOT phonetically related. Their likeness is nothing but a
common onomatopoeia, based on the bird's song. Hence, searching which is
the FIRST between kokilaH and kukil is probably wasting time!
        But this example is a rare one. Usually the correspondancies are
very good and SCIENTIFIC ones, but need to know ancient languages. A form
such Sanskrit bharanti don't had good cognates in modern languages: English
bear have lost the final, German tragen and French portent use other roots;
but Latin ferunt, Greek pherousi (Dorian pheronti) and Gotic bairand are
able to give us a reconstruction *bheronti. And not just by likeness! We
have, well attested by many other examples:
*bh > Skr. bh, Gr. ph, Lat. f (initial), Got. b
*e > Skr. a, Gr. e, Lat. e, Got. ai (before r)
*r unchanged
*o > Skr. a, Gr. o, Lat. u (in this position), Got. a
cp. the thematic nominatives Skr. -aH, Gr. -os, Lat. -us, Proto-Germ. -az
        It's hard to have a serious debate between peoples who don't share
the same cultural background! Not knowing some languages is not a fault,
just an educational fact: I don't know any of the modern Indian languages

PS: I know that some Indian scholars are perfectly knowing what I've said.

Dominique THILLAUD
Universite' de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France

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