Jan Houben jemhouben at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 19 08:28:10 UTC 2009

At present, practically all sanskrit lexicographic works published in
Europe, India or elsewhere is for up to 90-100% based on the work done from
1855-1875 by Otto Böhtlingk and Rudolph Roth (!)
It is well-known that this applies to Monier-Williams' dictionary (see his
own introduction which understates his dependency), but it also applies
to seemingly independent works such as V.S. Apte's Skt-English dictionary,
and to a lesser extent even Taranath Tarkavacaspati's Vacaspatyam (1873) --
which is now being digitized in a project by Varakhedi et al. -- is
"contaminated" with hypothetical etymologies of Böhtlingk&Roth. Before
statistics can be done on sanskrit words we have to answer the question: on
which level? Do we consider bhuutasya independent and different from bhuute;
and from bhavati? On the root-level, rough indications of frequencies --
largely based on Böhtlingk's and Roth's indications -- are given in
Whitney's Roots ... (grammarians' roots = very rare or hypothetical; V+ =
present in Vedic and later texts; etc.).
The primary need for sanskrit studies before or together with a frequency
analysis of words within a certain sanskrit corpus (taking into account
dhaatus and ga.nas) would perhaps be the setting up of a Sanskrit WordNet,
as already exists for Hindi (on the IIT Bombay website,; sequence within synset
according to relative frequency). On verbal roots to be used in a Sanskrit
WordNet see contribution of M. Kulkarni and P. Bhattacharya to the second
International Symposium on Sanskrit Computatinal Linguistics accessible
through Oliver Hellwig's site ( can be used to get (absolute) frequencies of words --
from general, syntactical to technical, from ca to paarada -- in texts of
the very specific domain of rasavidyaa.

Jan Houben

On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 2:31 PM, Dipak Bhattacharya <
dbhattacharya2004 at> wrote:

> A few hours' intensive work with Grassmann's Woerterbuch zum Rigveda may
> give a picture of the Rgveda regarding frequency. Grassmann also notes the
> immediately related words. As a source material more spread out in time and
> space (and not informing the context) will be the VVRI Sa.mhitaa Index The
> task too will be more time consuming with it. I have no access to the new
> index by A.Lubotsky's and cannot tell how far and whether at all it develops
> upon Grassmann.
> Kuiper gives some statistics of words of non-Vedic origin in Aryans in the
> Rigveda, 1991, Amsterdam selectively but with precision, and obviously,
> often without reference to the parts of speech or context. Hoffmann had the
> habit of giving statistics relating to the words he dealt with. The
> statistics of the adverbial and nominal use with full and comparative
> account of the circumstances of occurrence of angiras and angirasva(n)t in
> the Rgveda was dealt with in Mythological and ritual symbolism, Calcutta
> 1984. Statistics of the function and employment of the ablative with
> pronominals in the Rgveda and Atharvaveda may be found in 'The Veds Texts,
> Language and Ritual' Groningen 2004: 181--215. Unfortunately I have not
> access to  most of the works of T.Elizarenkova but her 'An approach to the
> description of the contents of the Rgveda'(Mélanges d'indianisme a l mémoire
> de Louis Renou) is an imaginative ground work on which a part of the desired
>  type of statistics can be attempted. Gonda (Epithets in the Rgveda)
> evaluates the epithets more qualitatively than quantitatively but it can be
> used for the desired purpose.
> All the statistically surveying studies known to me are mostly specific on
> meaning, form, mytheme etc and many belong to the level of text-study.
> But studies dealing with various parts of speech should exist
> DB
> --- On Tue, 17/2/09, Alexandra Vandergeer <geeraae at GEOL.UOA.GR> wrote:
> From: Alexandra Vandergeer <geeraae at GEOL.UOA.GR>
> Subject: frequencies
> Date: Tuesday, 17 February, 2009, 1:27 PM
> Dear Sanskritists,
> Did anyone ever compile a frequency list of Sanskrit nouns, verbs and
> adjectives in terms of use per 1000 lemmas?
> Alexandra van der Geer
>      Add more friends to your messenger and enjoy! Go to

Prof. Dr. Jan E.M. Houben,
Directeur d Etudes « Sources et Histoire de la Tradition Sanskrite »
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, SHP,
A la Sorbonne,45-47, rue des Ecoles,
75005 Paris -- France.
JEMHouben at

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