[INDOLOGY] Examples of very ambiguous devanagari Sanskrit sentences

Elliot Stern emstern at verizon.net
Tue Feb 10 20:02:56 UTC 2015

Dear Dermot,

You are of course right that my response was not on target. Some of the earlier responses led me away from the specific focus of your question.

I don’t see, however, that Martin Gansten’s response met your requirement:

sa mene na and sam enena are distinct in the usual roman transcription, but they are also distinct in the usual printed devanagari:

स मेने न        समेनेन

In case your system doesn’t read this devanagari, here is the same as transcribed into roman:

sa mene na           samenena



Elliot M. Stern
552 South 48th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19143-2029
United States of America
telephone: 215-747-6204
mobile: 267-240-8418
emstern at verizon.net

> On 09 Feb  2015, at 09:34, dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk wrote:
> Dear Elliott,
> Thank you for your contribution below. But that example (´sveto) is ambiguous whether you
> write it in roman or devanagari. The original request was for sentences that are ambiguous in
> devanagari but not in roman. Martin Gansten's example from BU 4.3.1, sa mene na / sam
> enena, fulfils the requirement, because the space between sa and mene can be written in
> roman though not in devanagari. But Matthew Kapstein's example ekonAviMzati / eko nA
> viMzati doesn't fulfil the requirement, because the spaces can be written in devanagari as
> well as in roman.
> I notice that you follow the practice of only writing spaces in roman where they are possible in
> devanagari, e.g.  dhavatityekasmadeva rather than  dhavatity ekasmad eva. As far as I know
> this is a fairly recent practice; the older practice is to write spaces in roman where they are
> possible--that is, wherever a letter doesn't belong to two words because of sandhi. I have
> sometimes been rebuked for following this practice, on the grounds that I should transcribe
> the devanagari exactly. But the practice of writing spaces in devanagari is itself relatively
> recent. I haven't any firm evidence, but I understand it came in with printing, around 1800. So
> the demand to write spaces in roman only where they would be written in devanagari is not
> supported by ancient tradition. The rule for both is the same: write spaces where you can.
> This means that in devanagari, though less often than in roman, editors of texts make
> judgments which guide the reader to one or other way of understanding the utterance: e.g. sa
> mene na or sam enena in BU 4.3.1. This is not a matter of variants in the text itself, but only
> two ways of interpreting it, since the text is neither of the above, but only samenena.
> If anyone can help with more precise observations, I'd be grateful.
> Dermot Killingley
> On 8 Feb 2015 at 16:40, Elliot Stern wrote:
> Here's an example as explained in nyayakaika:
> yatha ´sveto dhavatityekasmadeva vakyadarthadvayamavagamyate ´suklo nirektiti ca
> kauleyaka ito druta gacchatiti ca
> Elliot M. Stern
> 552 South 48th Street
> Philadelphia, PA 19143-2029
> United States of America
> telephone: 215-747-6204
> mobile: 267-240-8418
> emstern at verizon.net
>    On 08 Feb 2015, at 15:25, Matthew Kapstein <mkapstei at uchicago.edu> wrote:
>    well, there's always the famous prahelikaa verse:
>    ekona vi´sati stria  snanartha sarayu gata |  vi´sati pratiyata ca eko
>    vyaghrea bhakita
>    where it all changes if you read:
>    eko  na
>    Matthew
>    Matthew Kapstein
>    Directeur d'études,
>    Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
>    Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
>    The University of Chicago
>    _______________________________________________
>    INDOLOGY mailing list
>    INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
>    http://listinfo.indology.info
> --
> Dermot Killingley
> 9, Rectory Drive,
> Gosforth,
> Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1XT
> Phone (0191) 285 8053

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