Klaus Karttunen klaus.karttunen at HELSINKI.FI
Thu Feb 19 08:55:58 UTC 2009

It would be interesting to study the roots of the common Sanskrit  
dictionaries. The influence of Böhtlingk & Roth has been enormous,  
but there were other sources, notably the famous early Sanskrit- 
English dictionary edited by H. H. Wilson (1819, 2nd ed. 1831). Long  
ago I was checking the definition of some ritual terms in various  
dictionaries and noted that Apte had often copied, in a slightly  
condensed form, the very words of some longer definitions from  
Wilson. By the way, Wilson is the dictionary Rückert is said to have  
copied by hand as the book was too expensive.

Klaus Karttunen

On Feb 19, 2009, at 10:28 AM, Jan Houben wrote:

> 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
>> To: INDOLOGY at
>> 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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