Phillip Ernest phillip.ernest at UTORONTO.CA
Fri Oct 27 14:41:39 UTC 2000

This thread refers to something I would really like to know more about.
How, and to what extent, is Sanskrit used in modern India?  Is there still
much writing done in Sanskrit (if so, it must be necessary to coin new
words constantly); and is that modern Sanskrit writing merely a quirky,
self-conscious peculiarity, or is it 'authentic', in the sense that it
represents a more or less solid continuation of the ancient literature?

I wonder if it is still spoken much, liturgically or academically.  As
recently as the early sixties, my father, who was educated by Jesuits in a
Catholic seminary in the U.S., learned all his philosophy in Latin: only
Latin was spoken in the classroom-- lectures, discussion, etc.--, his oral
dissertations and examinations were in Latin.  Is the same true in Indian

Stella Sandahl, the only (professionally) surviving Sanskritist left in
the University of Toronto's once supremely great Sanskrit Department, says
that, years ago, there was a course in spoken Sanskrit given here.  I
wonder if there still are such courses in American universities, where the
Sanskrit programs seem to be as robust as they once were here, in the days
before Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's (apparently righteous) conflict with
the department chairman (among other factors) resulted in the dissolution
U of T's Sanskrit
department in 1980 or so.

P. Ernest
On Fri, 27 Oct 2000, [iso-8859-1] Andr� Signoret wrote:

> Bonjour,
> First of all, congratulations for your French. I am not far from thinking
> like you about "making" new words.
> We are therefore condemned (but it is a pleasure !) to paraphrase our modern
> words in a MODERN to ANCIENT dictionary like mine.
> For instance : "Snail without shell" or "naked snail" for a "slug",
> "A person who puts out a fire" for a "fireman", etc.
> I gathered from somewhere (I think it was in the British Encyclopaedia)that
> a number of indianists in India tried to modernize Sanskrit. Is it a
> freakish idea or reality ?
> Anyhow, it is very frustrating to let a series of words outside the scope of
> a dictionary ! Sanskrit already has over 1,200,000 words (compounds
> included). It can survive in spite of a few additions !
> BTW did ancient Indians ignore the word "cherry" in spite of the fact that
> Japanese have known it through centuries ?
> Thank you very much with Regards.
> Andr�.
> ----- Original Message -----
> Sent: Friday, October 27, 2000 3:04 PM
> > Je pense qu'il est tres important de ne pas inventer des mots qui
> n'existent
> > pas dans une langue ancienne pour des raisons evidentes; car, en le
> faisant, on
> > pourrait creer la fausse impression qu'il existait de telles choses dans
> les
> > civilisations de ce tamps-la.
> > Amicalment,
> > V. V. Raman
> >

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