gemination/degemination of stops in ligature with semi-vowels

Dominic Goodall dominic.goodall at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 23 03:21:16 UTC 2008

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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