Paa.ninian description of German

George Hart ghart at SOCRATES.BERKELEY.EDU
Fri Jan 25 15:58:50 UTC 2002

I should point out that the application of Panini to a non Indo-Aryan
language took place about 2000 years ago, when Tolkaappiyar used many of
Panini's features to describe Tamil.  For example, he gives Tamil seven main
cases, while the language actually does not have cases at all, only
suffixes.  This process was applied even more assiduously in later Tamil
grammars.  And in the grammatical analysis of Malayalam and Telugu (and
also, I believe, Kannada).  The main grammar of Malayalam is called
KeeraLapaaNiniiyam.  I would like to suggest to some of you who deal in
Sanskrit grammar that you or your students become familiar with the
Malayalam tradition.  It is virtually untouched and extraordinarily rich.
And you will find that all of your Sanskrit learning is applicable.  Of
course, it's a lot harder applying Panini to a non Indo-European language
like Malayalam than it is applying it to German.  I would also note the rich
Malayalam literature in Manipravalam, also untouched.  This combines native
Malayalam vocabulary and grammar with Sanskrit vocabulary and grammar (e.g.
Aham grhee niRkunnu -- I stay at home, where niRkunnu means "stand," "stay"
in Malayalam and has a Malayalam form).  True, Sanskrit is rich and
endlessly interesting -- but so are traditions like Telugu and Malayalam,
and when you work with these languages, you are mining material that has
been little explored by modern scholars (though for Telugu literature we are
fortunate to have a forthcoming volume from Narayanarao and Shulman).

On another note, as a native American English speaker, I have been repeating
"yepp" over and over, trying to figure out what I say.  My mother used to
become quite distressed whenever I uttered that word, but it still escapes
me now and then.  All I can figure out is that there is a larger expulsion
of air after the final "p" -- larger than, say, in "path."  It seems pretty
plosive to me.  George Hart

On 1/25/02 5:32 AM, "Jan E.M. Houben" <j_e_m_houben at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

> For the Paa.niniiyas among you:
> For centuries western scholars and missionaries have
> been describing most divergent languages all over the
> world in the categories of Latin grammar. What will
> happen if we start to describe a European language,
> for instance German, "through the eyes" of Paa.nini's
> theoretical approach? Will it give new insights on the
> structure of German? Does it solve old problems or
> does it create (interesting or unnecessary) new ones?
> Does it also give new insights on Paa.nini's
> theoretical system?
> These issues are courageously taken up in a recent
> paper by Prof. Peter Raster (Essen). See the *Essener
> Linguistische Skripte - elektronisch*, issue of
> December 2001:
> Best, Jan Houben
> __________________________________________________
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