Re: [INDOLOGY] Speaking of plagiarism: Satya Prakash Sarasvati and Satyakam Vidyalankar’s Ṛgveda

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at
Sun Jul 19 23:35:20 UTC 2015

On 19 July 2015 at 20:12, George Hart <glhart at> wrote:

> I remember years ago when I was studying Sanskrit Ingalls mentioned that
> Monier Williams had apparently copied from Boethlingk-Roth without
> attribution. He said that Boethlingk was able to adduce entries in Monier
> Williams that had the same mistakes originally made on the SP Lexicon. Plus
> ça change…. George Hart

​The relationship of the MW and PW dictionaries was carefully evaluated in
the 1988 article,

Ladislav Zgusta, "Copying in Lexicography. Monier-Williams' Sanskrit
Dictionary and Other Cases (Dvaikośyam)" *Lexicographica*, 1988, 4, 145-164.

It's a complex and nuanced relationship, that Zgusta describes very well,
developing seven defined categories of textual dependence (A-G).  It's
worth reading the whole article, which is careful and illuminating.  Zgusta
says, p.161,

To sum up: MONIER-WILLIAMS is completely independent of PW in respect to
the general
plan of the arrangement of his dictionary, or its macrostructure (category
E, p. 157); and
in respect to his semantics, or the way in which he handles the description
of meaning by
English equivalents (cat. G, p. 159). Yet some alleged cases of copying
remain unclear
(cat. D, p. 156).
However, there is no doubt that MONIER-WILLIAMS copied some data from PW
B, p. 154) although sometimes it is clear that while he copied without
checking in
the original sources, he gave the material thus gained some thought of his
own (cat. C, p.
155). The data which he acquired in this way are mostly of peripheral
importance; one
can easily imagine that he tried to save time in this unorthodox way. There
is. however,
one block, or set of highly important data which he completely took over,
or copied from
PW, namely the indications of Vedic morphological forms (cat. F, p. 158).
It can even be shown that MW contains not only facts or data of language
from PW,
but also interpretations conceived by BÖHTLINGK and ROTH (cat. A, p. 154).
There is no defense as far as category A is concerned. As for category F
(p. 158),
it would seem that a more explicit acknowledgement in the preface to MW
would be
necessary, but also sufficient: it is against the cumulative spirit of
scientific discovery,
against the synchronic and diachronic cooperation of scholars, to repeat
some already
well done research in all its minutiae; and also, if there are myriads of
bits of information
thus obtained spread throughout a dictionary, it would be difficult to
acknowledge each
and every single piece. MONIER-WILLIAMS ought to have been more explicit in
the pre-
face; but had he been more open on the subject, this ought to have sufficed.
The same can be said mutatis mutandis about categories B and C. One simply
expect a Sanskrit lexicographer working after the publication of PW not to
use the wealth
of data published in it and re-do all the excerption himself. As in the
case of the preced-
ing category, MONIER-WILLIAMS ought to have been more explicit in his
preface. In
addition to this, he ought to have checked all second-hand date in the
primary sources to
eliminate PW's misprints and errors, which he neglected to do. (Although
the second
Ought to' perhaps may have to be reworded as 'should' in this real,
non-ideal world of
Both in the case of categories F, and B and C, MONIER-WILLIAMS' sins are
rather those
of omission than of commission; only category A comprises a sin of

Zgusta also says, p.160,

In sum, it is not possible fully to condemn MONIER-WILLIAMS, just as it is
not possible
fully to exonerate him.  ...
MONIER-WILLIAMS and his dictionary have
been taken seriously; e.g., when G. BÜHLER in his 'Lexicographic Notes'21
(p. 90) men-
tions "the three great modern Sanskrit dictionaries, compiled by
Europeans", it is clear
that he puts MW into the same category as PW and pw. The same scholar also
(ibid., p. 86) a case where MONIER-WILLIAMS indicated his doubt about a
equivalent given in PW and was right in his skepsis. It must also be
mentioned that not
only did MONIER-WILLIAMS get an honorary PhD degree from the University of
gen, but also that such serious scholars as E. LEUMANN (Strassburg) and C.
(Jena) did not hesitate to cooperate with him on the second edition of MW.

Dominik Wujastyk

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