use of historical present in Sanskrit

George Hart ghart at SOCRATES.BERKELEY.EDU
Fri Dec 7 03:34:25 UTC 2001

I doubt this is what this student is looking for, but it might interest
him/her.  A few years ago, Susan Herring, a linguistics student at Berkeley,
did a first-rate PhD dissertation on the use of the historical FUTURE in
Tamil.  Strangely, in modern Tamil, it is quite common to describe events
that one is narrating  using the future tense.  It even spills over into
Tamil English -- I often hear people saying (when they describe the action
in a movie), "And then he will come into the room, and then he will see
her...."  And on and on using the future.  It's an interesting quirk, and
Susan has written on it extensively.  I've never noticed anything like that
in Sanskrit.  And I don't know about other Dravidian (or Indo-Aryan)
languages.  I've always thought it had something to do with the development
of the verb system from old Tamil to modern Tamil, but unfortunately no one
(to my knowledge) has figured out just how it might have come about.  George
Hart, UC Berkeley

On 12/6/01 7:18 PM, "Madhav M. Deshpande" <mmdesh at UMICH.EDU> wrote:

> A student here at Michigan from the Classics Dept is working on the use of
> historical present in Greek dramas, and wanted to know if there was any
> similar study of the use of historical present in Sanskrit.  Evidently, he
> finds the use of historical present more typical in the usage of female
> characters, or of those males who were looked upon as being feminine, i.e.
> Persians.  Any suggestions will be appreciated.
> Madhav Deshpande
> ***************************************************************
> Madhav M. Deshpande
> Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics
> Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
> 3070 Frieze Building
> The University of Michigan
> Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1285, USA
> ***************************************************************

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