victor van Bijlert victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL
Wed Feb 18 08:03:39 UTC 2009

Obviously Sanskrit is a language functioning in a timeless never-never
world. It is the language of the Brahmanical sacred world-order. Thus it
would probably never have been meant to be a vehicle of daily communication.
Sanskrit is timeless, pure and holy, at least certainly since the second
millenium (C.E.). The use of Sanskrit by Buddhists in the first millenium is
certainly remarkable. Could it indicate a strong tendency on the part of
Buddhists to adapt themselves even more to Brahmanical norms than the texts
of the Pali canon seem to indicate? The comparison with Hebrew is
interesting, for Hebrew is another ancient sacred language of scriptures and
not of daily communication on worldly matters. Latin and Arabic also
developed these tendencies.
But I'm no linguist.
Victor van Bijlert

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] Namens
Verzonden: dinsdag 17 februari 2009 15:55
Onderwerp: Re: frequencies

Frequency in Sanskrit does not work in the same way as in English and  
other modern languges. It is possible to complie a list of 3000 words  
in English that cover 70-80% of "all" conversations, newspaper  
articles, etc. This is just not possible in the case of Sanskrit--if  
it were possible, it would have been done a long time ago--because the  
vocabulary is highly specialized according to literary genres. On the  
other hand, if one moves within the same genre, one can go back and  
forth hundreds of years without any difficulty, something that cannot  
be done in English, German, French and do on. Hebrew is an exception,  
but this is a special case.
Best wishes,

  Quoting Jonathan Silk <kauzeya at GMAIL.COM>:

> Just a quick note (in addition to correcting the misprint pointed out by
> Jan--yes, of course, linguist!): Whether or not one wants to include the
> lexicon of Buddhist texts as "Sanskrit"--and there was long ago more than
> one discussion about this, about whether we also want to speak of Jaina
> Sanskrit, architectural Sanskrit and so on--the language of these texts is
> not in any sense "derived from Pali". While the two are related, to be
> and some portion of Buddhist(ic) Sanskrit vocabulary may have been
> or adapted from Middle Indic (--that is, *some* Buddhist[ic] Skt is
> 'Sanskritized Prakrit'), I am not aware of any case in which it can be
> that the Middle Indic in question is Pali (but I have not looked into
> this--has anyone?).
> This is slightly off the topic, but the point is that if one wants to
> to exclude particularly Buddhist lexica from a lexicon of Skt, the grounds
> for this cannot be that the words are not Skt.
> On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 2:39 PM, Alexandra Vandergeer
> <geeraae at>wrote:
>> Naturally, but the same is valid for present-day English. Frequency lists
>> are based on a wide spectrum, including newspapers, books, literature,
>> spoken language, but not necessarily poems. In the case of Skt, I'd
>> epics, philosophical texts in the broadest sense, shastras, [Buddhist
>> texts not, likely derived from Pali] to give a reasonable sample of the
>> Sanskrit language as is.
>> And I agree with Jonathan that the lexicon suggested by Himal is likely a
>> 'useful' vocabulary to read avarage Skt texts. Anyway, thanks Himal for
>> the suggestion.
>> Alexandra van der Geer
>> Athens
>> > I am not sure whether the question is even meaningful for classical
>> > Sanskrit. Frequency where? In Epic literature? In philosophical
>> > literature? In dharmasaastra or Buddhist texts? Each genre has its own
>> > special vocabulary, and its own frequencies.
>> > Best wishes
>> > EF
> --
> J. Silk
> Instituut Kern / Universiteit Leiden
> Postbus 9515
> 2300 RA Leiden
> Netherlands

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