here, here (was: Re: What Devanagari text would you most like as an e-text_

Dipak Bhattacharya dbhattacharya2004 at YAHOO.CO.IN
Fri Jun 5 17:56:21 UTC 2009

The necessity was never denied by me. All said, on the supposition that producing the online version of texts, on which I am no expert, is an expensive and laborious job, the claim for not-easily-available multi-volume works is greater than that of easily available and cheap-by-Western-standard works whatever acuteness of its necessity for particular projects. Again, there is absolutely no message of underestimating of the work with Gāndhārī manuscripts. Every sane Indologist wishes them the best.

--- On Fri, 5/6/09, Stefan Baums <baums at U.WASHINGTON.EDU> wrote:

From: Stefan Baums <baums at U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
Subject: Re: here, here (was: Re: What Devanagari text would you most like as an e-text_
Date: Friday, 5 June, 2009, 10:39 PM

Dear Dipak Bhattacharya,

> Coordinating printed Dictionaries reasonably saves time. But the
> Gandhari mss have not themselves been coordinated, an absurd
> prosposition till a critical index is prepared, a work that
> requires hard manual labour, a case by case inductive procedure.

just briefly. With the Gāndhārī material we were facing a special
chicken‐and‐egg situation in that the ambiguities of the writing
system, the fragmentation of the manuscripts etc. made it arguably
more important than for better‐preserved Sanskrit texts to have a
grammar and dictionary to help in their decipherment, but then of
course a grammar and dictionary would have to be based on a
decipherment of the material in the first place, as you mention.

Our solution to this problem was preparing transliterations of the
complete corpus of Gāndhārī texts (both published and not) to the
best of our abilities here and now. This goal has been mostly
accomplished. Digital versions of all transliterations reside in a
database from which a word‐index is automatically generated and
kept up‐to‐date at all times. If we change a reading in the
process of decipherment (i.e., pre‐publication), this is instantly
reflected in the word index. As a next step, we have now begun to
enrich the word database with Sanskrit and Pali equivalents,
grammatical tagging and English translations, thus bringing it
gradually into true dictionary format (and a print edition will be
produced in due course). Out of all this material, those texts
that have been published are already accessible to everybody (both
as full texts and through the dictionary interface) and internally
we can draw on the full range of preliminary transliterations
(warts and all), bringing the benefits of the digital approach to
everybody concerned. Another aspect of the whole system are
grammatical analysis tools that we are now developing (queries of
the sort ‘what happens to OIA i in closed syllable when preceded
by a palatal,’ with full statistics), and then there is the
complete catalog of texts and the bibliography, so it is not only
still less but also quite a bit more than a dictionary already.

In addition to the benefits given by Andrew and Stephen,
digitizing BHSD would then allow us to integrate it into our
overall system so one can seamlessly navigate back and forth
between Gāndhārī and BHS entries.

All best,

Stefan Baums
Asian Languages and Literature
University of Washington

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