[INDOLOGY] Query on negation

Brendan S. Gillon, Prof. brendan.gillon at mcgill.ca
Mon May 20 22:54:24 UTC 2013

Thanks to Birgit for referencing my article. The upshot of the article is to argue that the distinction the two forms of negation identified by the grammatical tradition corresponds to what contemporary linguists would characterize as wide and narrow scope negation. The parsing of the compound as (a-dharma)-j~na gives the privative prefix narrow scope, while the parsing as a-(dharma-j~na) gives the privative prefix wide scope.

This ambiguity is exhibited by such English compounds as `un-button-ed'. An `unbuttoned shirt' may be either a shirt which one has never buttoned or shirt which had been buttoned but someone has undone the buttoning.

Such ambiguities are typically decided by context, as Madhav pointed out.

Best wishes,

Brendan Gillon

Brendan S. Gillon                            email: brendan.gillon at mcgill.ca
Department of Linguistics
McGill University                             tel.:  001 514 398 4868
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webpage: http://webpages.mcgill.ca/staff/group3/bgillo/web/
From: INDOLOGY [indology-bounces at list.indology.info] on behalf of Madhav Deshpande [mmdesh at umich.edu]
Sent: Monday, May 20, 2013 5:02 PM
To: Patrick Olivelle
Cc: Indology
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Query on negation

If we are dealing with accented Sanskrit, then adharma+jña would give us the udātta accent on the final syllable, while a+dharmajña would give us the initial udātta.  But in Sanskrit without accents, we have to rely on the context to make this distinction.  A good case may be adharmacārin that I have seen in a few places, where it indeed means those who behave in unrighteous ways.


On Mon, May 20, 2013 at 3:46 PM, Patrick Olivelle <jpo at uts.cc.utexas.edu<mailto:jpo at uts.cc.utexas.edu>> wrote:
Thank you very much, Birgit. This is very illuminating. I will check out this study.


On May 20, 2013, at 2:25 PM, Birgit Kellner wrote:

> Brendan Gillon once argued that the distinction between the two types of negation called prasajyapratiṣedha and paryudāsa is precisely the one that accounts for the different interpretations in Patrick Olivelle's example: a syntactic difference in terms of whether the negation has wide scope (prasajyap.) - "not knowing the dharma" - or narrow scope (paryudāsa) - "knowing something that is not dharma". But I can't think of indicators other than context that would allow to determine which interpretation is to be preferred.
> @ARTICLE{Gillon_Brendan_1987,
>  author = {Gillon, Brendan S.},
>  title = {Two Forms of Negation in Sanskrit: prasajyapratiṣedha and paryudāsapratiṣedha},
>  journal = {Lokaprajñā },
>  year = {1987},
>  volume = {1/1},
>  pages = {81-89},
>  }
> With best regards,
> Birgit Kellner
> Am 20.05.2013 21:09, schrieb Patrick Olivelle:
>> bhoḥ paṇḍitāḥ!!
>> I have a question regarding a negative prefix "a" when used in a compound.
>> For example, at Manu 8.59 we have the compound "adharmajñau", which in my translation I have rendered as "two men ignorant of the Law" taking the negative prefix to apply to the whole compound "dharmajñau". Medhātithi commenting on this verse (and the Smṛticandrikā [Mysore ed. III: 287] cites Medh approvingly) appears to think that these two men were proficient in adharma, that is, in subterfuge (chala). Then the compound would consist of adharma and jña -- adharma being here ways of subverting justice. In the Smṛticandrikā the example given is a man who, knowing that other kinds of evidence is valid only for a year (I am not sure how he gets this??), gets a document written with 10 thousand paṇas, when it should have been just 5 thousand. This is the chala or adharma (ways of getting around legal procedures) in which the man if proficient.
>> This sort of ambiguity must occur also in other similar compounds. Is there a way to detect that? Or is it just a matter of context and interpretation. Have the grammarians talked about this?
>> Thanks.
>> Patrick
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