Allen W Thrasher athr at LOC.GOV
Wed Feb 18 16:22:54 UTC 2009

Is it not possible that the language of the hymns (or at least some of them) was largely an artificial one, at least that it exploited every possibility of the language for artifice, artifice which might extend to morphology as well as imagery?  And is it not also possible that at some stage, without the use of writing, archaic vocabulary and archaic grammatical features which had fallen out of the everyday spoken language were preserved for the production of new hymns?


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.

>>> Dipak Bhattacharya <dbhattacharya2004 at YAHOO.CO.IN> 2/18/2009 11:06:54 AM >>>

09 02 18
Victor's observations pertain to post-Paa.ninian Classical Sanskrit. But early Vedic was a living language with a Vedic dialectal base. There was no Prakrit (that has a system different from the one common to Classical Sanskrit and Vedic) around in say 1000 BCE. The fact that post-Paa.ninian records outnumber Vedic ones is no reason for forgetting the reality of the Vedic dialects. To observations like "Sanskrit is by definition an artificial language" one must add "if we do not regard Vedic as Sanskrit" But that does not stand.
--- On Wed, 18/2/09, victor van Bijlert <victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL> wrote:

From: victor van Bijlert <victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL>
Subject: Re: frequencies
Date: Wednesday, 18 February, 2009, 1:36 PM

I think we should also take into consideration that Sanskrit is by
definition an artificial language. The word itself means after all something
like: purified, perfected. It stood in contrast to the Prakrits, the natural
languages (of the Aryan elites?). Being an artificial language, Sanskrit
would not have the same features as a spoken contact language used in the

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] Namens Alexandra Vandergeer
Verzonden: woensdag 18 februari 2009 8:18
Onderwerp: Re: frequencies

Correct, but does it also hold for the top100 of used words? I doubt so, I
personally think that the highly specialized vocabularies, or jargons,
fall in a lower category, except of course of the name and ways of address
of the deity in a purana devoted to that particular deity and so on and so
on. Anyway it would be interesting to see whether indeed the different
genres in Skt texts are so different as we generally assume, restricting
ourselves to the top100. It would be equally interesting to see whether
there is a shift in language use throughout the centuries in the
high-frequency words.


> 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,
> EF

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