[INDOLOGY] Examples of very ambiguous devanagari Sanskrit sentences

Antonia Ruppel antonia.ruppel at cornell.edu
Sun Feb 8 21:19:02 UTC 2015

Dear Harry,

There is also something in one of the stories from the Kathāsaritsāgara
quoted by Lanman in his reader: Section 26 (pp. 49-53) = vi.108-164, which
Lanman calls 'The king who didn't know his Sanskrit grammar'. The crucial
scene is one where the king misinterprets

modakair (= mā udakaih) deva paritāḍaya mām '*don't* pelt me *with
water*/throw water at me'


modakair etc 'pelt me *with sweets*'.

(His ignorance thus revealed, he then needs to go ahead and study Sanskrit

Maybe this helps?

All best,

On 8 February 2015 at 20:25, Martin Gansten <martin.gansten at pbhome.se>

> In the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.3 there is a sentence that, if memory
> serves, can be read as either sam enena vadiṣya iti '[He thought], "I
> will speak with him"' or sa mene na vadiṣya iti 'He thought, "I will not
> say [all that I know]"'. Again if memory serves, Patrick Olivelle and
> Śaṅkara -- two great authorities in their different ways -- both uphold the
> latter meaning, but I admit the former has always made more sense to me
> (not least because the two people concerned do end up conversing in the
> very next sentence, using the verb sam+vad).
> Martin Gansten
> Harry Spier wrote:
> Thanks for these replies.
> What will help me the most is some very simple Sanskrit phrases that
> show  completely different meanings by how you put breaks in the
> transliteration.  I need to show examples of this to non-sanskritist,
> non-devanagari knowing typesetters.
> The best I could come up with is:
> पुष्पमध्येति स्मरति च
> which can be:
> puṣpam adhyeti smarati ca He turns his mind towards the lotus and
> remembers it.
> or
> puṣpa-madhyeti smarati ca = puṣpa-madhya iti smarati ca = He  remembers  [the
> phrase] "the middle of the lotus"
> More examples like this would be useful.
> Thanks,
> Harry Spier
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 s a p e r e   a u d e

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