spoken Sanskrit, (fireman, etc.)

Timothy C. Cahill tccahill at LOYNO.EDU
Fri Oct 27 15:46:24 UTC 2000

Indologists and guests,

   I lived with the members of the Hindu Seva Pratishthanam's "Samskrta
Vibhaga" for 6 weeks in 1989. After finding a suitable room nearby I
continued to eat lunch with them daily. And once the asked me to appear in
a short play which was broadcast over Durdarshan in 1990. The whole
experience was memorable, and I made many friends with whom I've kept in
loose touch ever since. (I described all this once before on this list, in
1995, pre-archive.) This group used to render the Sanskrit version of the
monthly *Chandamama*.

   The thinking back then was that rendering English words into Sanskrit
was o.k., but that *importing* foreign words was also very acceptable. So
the word 'cricket' was just that. The attempt to translate such words into
Sanskrit served no purpose, although it could be *very* entertaining. An
old coinage for 'train' was 'dhuuma-zakaTa' --but this was never really
used. The group used 'bus' together with '-yaana' since using the
declensional forms of 'bus' would be too hard for new learners. The fully
Sanskritized version was 'loka-yaana' --and 'super-deluxe bus' was
"RSi-daNDa-loka-yana" a coinage which never got used except by those who
appreciated the 'vizeSa' which it captured. So, coining words from modern
usages was appreciated as a passtime but the pragmatists (in a *spoken*
Sanskrit movement?!) prevailed and only particularly apt coinages were
promoted. (My only contribution was 'navaniita-makZikaa' which, when an
english-knowing person was found and explained it to the group evoked
laughter but did NOT get adopted.) Coining Sanskrit words from English is
something of a hobby for a few and has been going on for, I'd guess, at
least a hundred years. Also, thinking back now it seems to me that those
who took vows to speak only Sanskrit at home, and those who raised their
kids using only Sanskrit, were actually more liberal about importing
foreign words.

   Ashok Aklujkar once posted a nice suggestion for 'world wide web' on
this list. I've now forgotten it but it was nicely alliterative. And the
archive contains a reference to 'basketball' --and even Sri Lanka's
national basketball team: TripiTaka-kanduka-kriDaa-sangham. (All good
Buddhists no doubt!)

Tim Cahill

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