[INDOLOGY] Follow up to Lanman question

Klaus Karttunen klaus.karttunen at helsinki.fi
Fri Aug 30 12:21:19 UTC 2013

Dear colleagues,
Whitney was one of the five first Indological book (soon after Stenzler and Lanman) that I purchased more than 40 years ago and I still use it regularly. But of course, for grammar, not for language history. For this, Burrow, Gonda and many other books were already available. I still recommend Whitney to students as grammar ( with the warning that some of his ideas are antiquated).


Klaus Karttunen
South Asian and Indoeuropean Studies
Asian and African Studies, Department of World Cultures
PL 59 (Unioninkatu 38 B)
00014 University of Helsinki, FINLAND
Tel +358-(0)9-191 22674
Fax +358-(0)9-191 22094
Klaus.Karttunen at helsinki.fi

On Aug 29, 2013, at 12:55 PM, Dipak Bhattacharya wrote:

> I am sorry for the long lecture that follows. Particularly because Sanskrit philology is still fast changing and my ideas, written from India, may sound outdated. Still I put it here just because I am interested in it for bread and butter.
> Whitney’s grammar is often outdated with older points of views like the disappearance of m of –m ending roots like √gam in the weak grade. This is the Pāṇinian norm. Even the concept of the thematic stem was less developed than in Macdonell’s Vedic grammar. Whitney is more useful - I should say the best like every work by him - as a norm setting grammar than as a historical one. Macdonell’s is better but also outdated as it has no idea of the laryngeal.
> Burrow’s Sanskrit Language is more advanced and really looks fresh as he has accepted the laryngeal theory and some other ideas of Kurylowicz and even of Kuiper. But Burrow’s idea of the suffixal –i- in, say, sthita is unacceptable. But he is not more faulty than the strongest upholders of the laryngeal theory.  In fact the common explanation of it (mainly from the Leiden school) as the replacement of a consonant is itself unsatisfactory and inconsistently upheld by some celebrities whom I need not name.   The contested idea of Schwebeablaut too will be found not disapproved by Burrow.
> I think that the outline can be best known from Burrow (1973), the details (excepting of the verb) from Wackernagel-Debrunner. For verb one should update Macdonell mainly with help from Hoffmann and Narten and partly Kuiper for his general conception, controversial and improved by Hoffmann, of morphophnology. I cannot tell about Werba whose work I could not collect. But there is a great desideratum, among many, in the study of adverbs, particularly the declensional ones.
> So much on conventional study. Structural study of Sanskrit grammar, barring what is incipient in Renou, is almost nil.
> Sorry again for a long lecture
> Best
> DB
> From: Stefan Baums <baums at lmu.de>
> To: indology at list.indology.info 
> Sent: Thursday, 29 August 2013 12:37 AM
> Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Follow up to Lanman question
> Dear Herman,
> Whitney certainly served as the first‐stop reference grammar in
> the European contexts that I have worked in (in Germany, England
> and Denmark). Wackernagel is just to bulky and expensive (and of
> course incomplete) to always have by one’s side. And even in
> Germany, the English original of Whitney’s second edition (1889),
> readily available in Indian reprints, is the version commonly used
> (rather than the German translation of the first edition).
> All best,
> Stefan
> -- 
> Dr. Stefan Baums
> Institute for Indian and Tibetan Studies
> Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
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