victor van Bijlert victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL
Wed Feb 18 22:39:29 UTC 2009

Actually, I am also not certain. But I know for a fact that a word like
bhaava can mean innumerable things depending on the context and the kind of
text. In any case, it would perhaps be possible to discover the
artificiality of Sanskrit if one could discover how simple word acquire very
complicated and unlikely meanings.
Moreover, I think one should bear in mind that Sanskrit is only studied
through fixed and written texts, texts that were composed with a purpose.
The obvious comparison with English as in your examples may perhaps not work
in Sanskrit. I do not believe Sanskrit was ever meant to be used as an
ordinary living language but rather as a kind of learned and sacred
Esperanto for elevated subjects. The fact that in principle Sanskrit texts
from the twentieth century would not be unintellible to a reader from the
first century is remarkable. Sanskrit never changed in grammar, perhaps a
little in style and syntax. This might indicate that the language was always
conceived of as 'eternal' and meant to formulate 'eternal matters'.


-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] Namens Dominik Wujastyk
Verzonden: woensdag 18 februari 2009 12:23
Onderwerp: Re: frequencies

On Wed, 18 Feb 2009, victor van Bijlert wrote:

> I do agree that statistical and other analysis of the corpus of Sanskrit
> texts would deliver interesting insights, for instance in the way
> terms were invented by different sects in order to separate themselves off
> from the 'competition'. Perhaps one could see in the Sanskrit texts
> interference with the mothertongues of the authors. I think texts of Jains
> and Buddhists should be included.
> Victor

I think the examples of research you outline above are not necessarily the 
kind of result that can be found from corpus analysis.  The corpus doesn't 
know, e.g., what a "technical term" is, unless it's be so tagged, and that 
tagging is based on prejudgement.  The BNC page I cited mentions questions 
like these:

  In what social situations is wicked a term of approval? Why does it
  "sound wrong" to say "The good weather set in on Thursday" although "The
  weather set in on Thursday" is perfectly acceptable? If I can say "I live
  stone's throw away from here", can I also say "I'm going a stone's throw
  away from here?"

I'm not sure that I would even agree with the suggestion above that we can 
find out causes (answer "Why?" questions).  Language is, in the end, just 
what people say and what passes between people in such a manner that they 
believe they understand each other.  But maybe I'm wrong about that.


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