T.I. Console info at TICONSOLE.NL
Thu Jul 2 19:32:12 UTC 1998

Meenan Vishnu wrote:

>The following article is taken from

>AUTHOR, ETC.: Walker, George Benjamin, 1913-
>TITLE: The Hindu world; an encyclopedic survey of Hinduism by Benjamin Walker.
>IMPRINT: New York, Praeger [c1968]

>(Typos are mine.)  Comments from Sanskrit fans/scholars welcome.

On the whole, I cannot escape the impression that many statements in the article are based on own ideas and wishful thinkings.

For example, the idea that

>and it has been pointed out by some scholars that teh syntax of Sanskrit, as od
>all other Aryan languages in India is fundamentally Dravidian rather
>than Aryan in character.

sounds strange to me. I tried to apply Generative Grammar principles to Classical Sanskrit (still further removed from Vedic), and it worked out very well. Sanskrit `behaves' in a similar way as Latin and Dutch. So, why a fundamentally Dravidian sanskrit structure? As I pointed out in my book `The Bhasa Problem, a statistical research into its solution', locatives can be raised to subject position in a passive context, whereas this is impossible in Indo-european languages, like Sanskrit. There only indirect and direct objects can be raised  thus, like in English, Dutch etc. Fortunately, Walker contradicts himself in the same article with the statement,

>Sanskrit thus had its roots in the decadent form of Vedic which gave it
>its structural core.  

?????????? What does he want to say?

By the way, the very word decadent does not please me. Maybe he has forgotten the wide-spread way of language evolution: say things in a much simpler way. That is how all modern languages evolved from the more complex classical languages. `Decadent languages' have developed other ways in order to express the same: word order, extra particles and indeclinables, more use of demonstratives and other pronouns, adverbs of time etcetera. That is not decadent, it is different. More suitable for its new environment.

>Because of its extremely complicated grammar it is highly improbable
>that Sanskrit was ever a widely spoken language, current among the
>general populace

But then the same accounts for Vedic, as this language is even more difficult (15 infinitives against only 1 in Sanskrit etc.). By the way, maybe the people, or the better educated people spoke some variety of Sanskrit, with `helper cases' (tale, madhye + genitive and the like), no aorists, shorter compounds. Exactly the same is true for Latin; they spoke a kind of vulgar Latin, quite similar to the church Latin. (as people go to churches to understand something, it is convenient to speak the same language in church as in school and at home; like Buddha with Pali).

By the way, some years ago there was a conference Status of Sanskrit in India on this matter; please contact Jan Houben, Leiden

Sandra van der Geer
the Netherlands
e-mail info at
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