computers and Indology

David Dargie dargie at CLTR.UQ.EDU.AU
Thu May 7 22:14:29 UTC 1998

On Thu, 7 May 1998, Anshuman Pandey wrote:

> > 7) Saw elegant fonts for about 400 symbols used in Indus writings
> > developed by Prof. Parpola. If used widely, many can suggest;
> > may speed up the cracking the script, language.
> Aid in decipherment? How?

Obviously, one benefit is that of instant recognition of a character or
word once it has been recognised initially by a computer.

As far as decipherment is concerned, I believe that a statistical
methodology may help. For example, from my research it is clear that from
a statistical point of view, `function' words invariably occur quite
frequently, `theme' words occur less frequently, and specific context
words occur less frequently still. There is no reason to expect that
(meaningful) text from the Indus civilization does not follow this general
paradigm. A similar method may be applied to the phonology and grammar of
the Indus script. Of course, all of this processing could be achieved by
hand, but it is better done by a machine while the user sips a cup of tea.

My PhD research consists of an authorship analysis of samples of texts
attributed to Shankara. I hope to show compelling statistical evidence why
some of the Shankara attributions are more dubious than others. My trusty
computer is an indispensible tool in this project.


David Dargie
Centre for Language Teaching and Research
University of Queensland

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