gemination/degemination of stops in ligature with semi-vowels

Stella Sandahl ssandahl at SYMPATICO.CA
Tue Dec 23 12:52:09 UTC 2008

Dear Victor,
Point taken. But can someone now answer Allen's initial questions  
which have been overlooked in the double t debate?
Happy New Year to all!

Stella Sandahl
ssandahl at

On 23-Dec-08, at 7:22 AM, victor van Bijlert wrote:

> I do not think the earlier posters were not making sense. For the
> significant difference between bodhisattva / bodhisatva and the other
> examples is that Buddhist Sanskrit has a tendency to invariably have
> meanings slightly different from 'normal' Sanskrit, also depending  
> on the
> context. This is part of the socio-religious rhetoric of Indian  
> sects in
> their debates. A good point to my mind is the very Buddhist advaya  
> and the
> terribly Brahmanical advaita.
> If the Sanskrit bodhisattva / bodhisatva is a kind of translation from
> Prakrit / Pali bodhisatta, the latter could have had the meaning of
> bodhisatvan with a meaning different from bodhisattva. The double  
> or single
> t makes a semantic difference possible which is not the case with  
> tatva /
> tattva or karma / karmma.
> But I agree, not being a pucka Buddhologist, that I could not care  
> less
> whether bodhisattva is a bodhisatva or a bodhisatta which is actually
> perhaps a bodhisatvan. The socio-religious meanings of the term can be
> understood from the way the term is used in various Buddhist texts.
> Victor van Bijlert
> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] Namens Stella Sandahl
> Verzonden: dinsdag 23 december 2008 13:07
> Aan: INDOLOGY at
> Onderwerp: Re: gemination/degemination of stops in ligature with  
> semi-vowels
> At last something sensible in the double t debate! Thanks!
> Stella Sandahl
> --
> University of Toronto
> On 22-Dec-08, at 10:21 PM, Dominic Goodall wrote:
>> Surely the alternation bodhisatva/bodhisattva in manuscript
>> transmission has now been more or less explained.
>> Gemination of stops in ligature with semi-vowels is unproblematic
>> and no reader is fazed by karmma being written in place of karma.
>> Degemination of stops in ligature with semi-vowels has therefore
>> also long been assumed to be unproblematic by many transmitters of
>> Sanskrit texts.  For many a scribe, there is simply no meaningful
>> difference between sattva and satva (even if a grammarian might
>> baulk at writing the second). Reading one, a scribe may happen to
>> `copy' the other. Many editors therefore pass over this sort of
>> variation in silence on the grounds that there is no point
>> differentiating what transmitters of the text have clearly regarded
>> as functionally identical.
>> Michael Slouber has helpfully pointed out the parallel case of
>> tattva/tatva. But it is perhaps worth considering also such
>> examples as v.rttyaa (instrumental singular of v.rtti): some
>> transmitters may in the same text write v.rtti with a doubled t,
>> but v.rtyaa with a single one. Noone is likely to entertain
>> speculations about this difference reflecting different notions of
>> etymology.
>> Conclusion: it seems unlikely that anything can be useful known
>> about the history of the word bodhisattva/bodhisatva from the way
>> it is written in manuscripts.
>> Dominic Goodall
>> Pondicherry Centre,
>> Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient (French School of Asian Studies)
>> On 23 Dec 2008, at 02:47, victor van Bijlert wrote:
>>> But then again in Bengali script the difference would be very
>>> noticeable.
>>> Moreover, if this orthography also occurs in manuscripts from
>>> Central Asia
>>> that are not written in Nagari, the orthography still needs to be
>>> explained.
>>> Victor
>>> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
>>> Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] Namens Allen W
>>> Thrasher
>>> Verzonden: maandag 22 december 2008 20:44
>>> Aan: INDOLOGY at
>>> Onderwerp: Re: bodhisattva/bodhisatva
>>> Frequently Nagari t's are written starting with a horizontal, with
>>> the
>>> result that t and tt can look virtually identical.
>>> Allen
>>> Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
>>> Senior Reference Librarian
>>> Team Coordinator
>>> South Asia Team, Asian Division
>>> Library of Congress, Jefferson Building 150
>>> 101 Independence Ave., S.E.
>>> Washington, DC 20540-4810
>>> tel. 202-707-3732; fax 202-707-1724; athr at
>>> The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the
>>> Library of
>>> Congress.

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