[creative atomic scientist's translations]

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Sun Mar 19 00:32:54 UTC 2000

Rahul Oka <rahul.oka at USA.NET> wrote:

>BTW. DR. Witzel, you are wondering why there are evidences of IE groups in
>such varied areas of the work, if it were not for ....
You mean the "world" I assume.
>If I tell you that archaeological evidence speaks for the ability of ancient
>peoples to travel distances which are incomprehensible to (especially) Western
>people used to cars and other locomotive luxuries, would you believe me?

Don't tell me:  you ASSUME too much about other people, even about
'westerners', and our arm chairs (in an earlier and in today's msgs).
Well, even at Harvard, I don't have one (our Dept. is not exactly rich, to
understate) ... nor is my office in an ivory tower. (NB: Dr. Zydenbos will
tell you the same about himself).

I guess no one but you is interested, however: I have walked for hundreds
of miles in one stretch, and I know how much I can cover per day... And of
course, you don't know that I worked in Nepal for more than  5 years
during the Seventies, that was at a time still minus many of the present
luxuries,  and that I made many long trips to India then and later on. I
know SOMETHING of South Asia from my own observations, not just from arm
chair study.

Then,  I also went on horse back for long distances, and I thus happen to
know that I can cover much more than "20 (or even 40) km" per day that way.

Again, you don't know that I have been working together with the
Archaeologists across the street who have been digging at Harappa for some
15 years. Some of your beloved archaeologist colleagues actually argue
(Anthony, Mallory, etc.) that it was precisely the use of the horse for
riding together with (the SLOW!) oxen-car wagons as well as the quicker
horse-drawn carts and chariots that facilitated easier movements in the
steppes, from the Ukraine to Siberia and  W. China.

>I think that if the linguists actually indulged in a proper study of history
>(all histories) and the social and natural sciences, it would teach us more
>about ancient Indian society,

Who said
(a) that Indologists only use linguistics to read (Vedic) texts? and
(b) don't use other sciences ? My own description of proper working
procedure in philology includes all of them, see my detailed introduction
on the state of the art in "Inside the texts"(*), and you will find many of
your wishes fulfilled...

(*) Inside the Texts, Beyond the Texts. New Approaches to the Study of the
Vedas. Harvard Oriental Series. Opera Minora, vol. 2.  Cambridge 1997

Again, argued from lack of knowledge.

>just quibbling over when and if  "i" changed to an "e" in some text,
>interpreted 2000 years >after its time, when we have no access to its

The last line shows that you have *no idea* how linguistics works.
Unwittingly, I just presented an example in my msg for Mr.Banerjee which,
because of my typo (waist/waste), allows your future linguist or
philologist the reconstruction of the 21st cent. Engl. pronuncition of |a|
and |ai|. See another message.

We Indologists, at least, do not criticize natural scientists, wether Dr .
XYZ round the corner,  or Einstein or Heisenberg for what *they* work(ed)
on. Sorry for the repetition. Apparently still necessary. For the rest:

yo maa paakena manasaa carantam abhicaSTe anRtebhir vacobhiH,
ye paakazaMsaM viharanta evair  ye vaa bhadraM duuSayanti svadhaabhiH,
-- ahaye vaa taan pradadaatu soma       aa vaa dadhaatu nirRter upasthe ||


Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

ph. 617-496 2990 (also messages)
home page:     www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm

Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:         www1.shore.net/~india/ejvs

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